Tooba Gondal: Turkey deports London Isis matchmaker

Tooba Gondal wrote that she wanted to prove she was a changed person

A former London university student accused of acting as a recruiter for Islamic State is reported to be among a group of alleged female jihadists being deported from Turkey to France.

Tooba Gondal, 25, who lived in Walthamstow before leaving for Syria in 2015, had pleaded to be allowed to return to the UK with her two children. However, France Centre for Analysis of Terrorism said she was being sent to France under a plan by Turkey to expel the foreign jihadists from its jails.

If the standard procedure is followed, she will be placed in custody when she arrives in France and her children, Ibrahim, three, and Asiya, 18 months, will be placed in care.

Lawyers said that almost all alleged Islamic State followers were imprisoned while their level of radicalisation was assessed. The most radical were placed in solitary confinement.

Officials said that an overwhelming majority of alleged Isis followers were charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation. The offence carries a maximum sentence of ten years in jail.

The children of Islamic State members are initially placed in foster homes where they undergo psychological tests to determine if they have been traumatised by their stay in a war zone. Most are subsequently allowed to live with family members.

Gondal is a French national although she had lived in Britain since her early childhood before moving to Syria. She said she had sewn her French passport into her babies’ nappies to keep it hidden in Syria, where Islamic State systematically destroyed the identity papers of its members arriving from other countries.

Gondal has often claimed to have a British residence permit, but was served with a Home Office exclusion order last year barring her from the UK.

She is accused of acting as a matchmaker for Isis, attracting women from the West to marry its fighters in Syria. She is reported to have recruited Shamima Begum, the Isis bride from Bethnal Green in east London who is being held in a camp in Syria. Gondal herself had three husbands, all of whom have been killed.

After the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, in which 130 people died, she tweeted: Wish I could have seen the hostages being slaughtered last night with my own eyes. Would have been just beautiful.

But in an open letter published by The Sunday Times last month, Gondal, who studied English at Goldsmiths, University of London, said she had been manipulated by Islamic State and added: I desperately wish for the British government to take us back. I want to prove that I am a changed person; a much better individual for society. I offer to help prevent vulnerable Muslims from being targeted and radicalised. She was seeking to prove that her son Ibrahim’s father, a suicide bomber, was a British national, giving Ibrahim UK citizenship.

At the time, she was living in the Ain Issa camp under Kurdish control in Syria, but she reportedly escaped amid the chaos that followed the Turkish invasion of the region last month. French newspapers said she had crossed over the border and been arrested in Turkey.

She is among 11 French nationals being expelled, according to Ankara. They include four women suspected of belonging to Islamic State and seven children.

There are 1,201 foreign Islamic State convicts and suspects in Turkish jails.

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