Turkish security forces deal with returning jihadists from Islamic State – the Economist

The Turkish government is struggling to deal with the aftermath of the Islamic State (ISIS), as hundreds of jihadists and their families return to their homes in Turkey or attempt to flee to the country after defeat in Syria and Iraq, the Economist reported this week.

At least 2,000 Turks are believed to have joined the extremist Islamist group, and 500 of these are now interned in Turkish prisons, which also hold around 700 foreign ISIS fighters, the Economist said.

Meanwhile, some 400 Turkish women who joined ISIS and more than 280 children are being held in Baghdad, Turkish newspaper Gazete Duvar reported this week. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has been involved in negotiations for their return.

Turkey’s security forces well know the dangers posed by an influx of radicalised Turks who have spent time among the ranks of ISIS. Members of the group are believed to be responsible for a series of attacks that killed more than 300 people in Turkey between 2015 and 2017.

Action by Turkish security has prevented further attacks since then, and police say they have stopped a total of 28 attacks since 2014.

“Belatedly, the country has begun to focus on prevention and rehabilitation. The government has organised seminars for Turkish and refugee children, to inoculate them against is propaganda. The religious affairs directorate, which oversees the teaching of Islam, has trained 70 prison chaplains to work with religious extremists”, the Economist reported.

Turkish officials told the magazine that they still face a significant threat from the group, which they said had been making efforts to expand its network in Turkey and move its finances through the country.