The travel route of three female Daesh suspects, who are on Interpol's Most Wanted list and were captured in Turkey in January, has been revealed following their hearings.
Sought with a red notice, Houda Z., along with two other women, Malika B. and Fatıha T., who were sought under blue notices, were arrested in January by Turkish security forces in a counterterrorism operation.
While the three women initially were arrested and sent to jail on charges of being members of a terrorist organization, they were released under judicial control after their first hearing.
The judicial process revealed the route the three women followed to reach Syria. Houda Z. left Paris with her husband and two children to go to Syria by truck. The family traveled from Italy to Greece by ship and continued from Greece to Turkey via motorway, before finally entering Syria.
Fatıha T. came to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia, and then traveled to Turkey's southern border province of Şanlıurfa and eventually into Syria.
During the hearing, Houda Z. denied the accusations, saying she has no relation to the Daesh terrorist organization. "We lived in Syria with our husband. He did not say anything about Daesh. After he was killed, I came to Turkey with the help of smugglers," she said.
She added that she has no plans to return to France due to fear of "torture."
Similarly to Houda Z., Malika B.
also denied the accusations during her hearing. She said she went to Syria with the help of a man whom she met on social media and met her future husband there. "We agreed with a smuggler to escape from Syria. I came in 2018 but lost any trace of my husband because we traveled separately to Turkey. I don't know whether he is alive or not," she said.
Turkey has taken significant measures against foreign Daesh members and has urged Western countries for intelligence cooperation.According to official figures, some 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 others deported in operations against Daesh in Turkey, while around 70,000 people were denied entry to Turkey over suspected links with the terrorist group.
Security forces have also foiled at least 10 attack plots. Figures show that some 18,500 suspects are currently being monitored for links to the terrorist group after being identified at airports upon arrival.
At the height of Daesh's power, hundreds of foreign fighters from dozens of countries streamed in to join the self-proclaimed caliphate. Some militants took their young children with them to Daesh-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq.
Following a period of expansion from 2014 to 2015, Daesh went into a gradual decline, with U.S.-led coalition bombings and Turkish-backed operations leading to a rapid decline in Daesh territories and the number of its militants.
Daesh is mostly defeated, dealing with the children of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq is posing a dilemma for governments in their home countries. Many of the foreign fighters and their families are in prison or in special camps in Iraq and Syria. More than 3,000 foreign women and children are being held at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria.