Paris – About 690 French citizens who joined the Islamic State organisation are thought to still be in Syria and Iraq, French top anti-terror Prosecutor said on Friday.
“I think that the majority of them do not want to come back to France, considering the judicial proceedings against them,’’ Francois Molins said.
The fate of possible returning jihadists has been a hot topic in France, where a series of terror attacks, many of them claimed by Islamic State have cost more than 230 lives since early 2015.
Most current cases of returnees involved “a certain number of women, mostly widows with children, who may in fact be tempted to return to France.
“All adult returnees, as well as suspected child combatants from age 13 up, are brought before judges,’’ Molins said.
Younger children were cared for and rehabilitated through the educational system.
“On this issue, we need to leave aside any naivete,’’ Molins argued, saying that both women and adolescents had been trained to bear arms in Islamic State territory.
So far, 398 returnees have been placed under formal investigation, with 260 of them held in detention, Molins added.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that French nationals who travelled to Islamic State territory to fight alongside the militants would not be welcomed with open arms.
“We are not organising a repatriation process for our citizens who went to fight for Daesh in no case,’’ Macron said, adding that those caught in Iraq would have to face Iraqi justice. (dpa/NAN)