Two women married to Isis fighters were expected to land in Germany on Friday as Turkey continued to deport individuals with alleged affiliations to the terrorist group to their European countries of origin.
The women are the eighth and ninth individuals to be repatriated to Germany this week, after the Turkish government unexpectedly announced on Monday it would no longer act as a “hotel” for foreign nationals who fought alongside terrorists.
A German-Iraqi family landed in Berlin on Thursday evening. The family of seven, who are believed to have links to the Salafist scene in Hildesheim, in Lower Saxony, were questioned by authorities, and the 55-year-old father was detained over a series of minor, non-terrorist offences.
German authorities have reluctantly conceded they are obliged by international law to allow all German nationals into the country and will only be able to detain or bring to justice the returnees if Turkey or Syria cooperate in supplying evidence against them.
Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has appealed for Ankara to quickly pass on information “that would stand in a court of law to detain someone and bring them to justice”.
Germany’s public prosecutor general is investigating the two women due to arrive on Friday but they were not expected to be arrested upon touching German soil.
One of the women is believed to be a 27-year-old Hanover-born woman of south Asian descent who first travelled to Syria in 2014.
According to Hayat, a German deradicalisation scheme that has been in touch with the woman since December 2017, she spent at least the last two years in a secure annexe at the Ain Issa camp in Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria following the death of her husband in combat.
The woman escaped after Kurdish troops opened the camp’s gates in anticipation of the arrival of Turkish forces last month, and was then captured by the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, leading to her detention in Gaziantep.
Interviewed by Fox News in 2018, the woman said she was writing a book in the hope of protecting other women from making the same “mistake” she had.
“We believe that the woman mainly travelled to Syria out of love for her partner and not because she is deeply immersed in Islamist ideology”, said Claudia Dantschke, a project director for Hayat, a programme that seeks to deradicalise young jihadis by counselling their next of kin.
The second woman is believed to have been born in 1998 and recently escaped from the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in northern Syria.
Two more women who travelled to Syria after their husbands joined Isis are expected to be deported to Germany in the next three weeks, after German authorities have verified the identity of the children who are expected to accompany them.
A tenth individual whose deportation was originally expected this week is believed still to be a prison in Turkey. Benjamin Xu, 29, a German-Chinese jihadi from Berlin, is serving a life sentence over the death of two Turkish policemen in March 2014.
In total, 95 German nationals with affiliations to Isis are believed to be in prisons in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Twenty-six have already been made subject to arrest warrants in Germany, and there are a further 33 investigations that are designed to result in an arrest.