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Alleged US Isis member 'marooned between Turkish and Greek borders'

An alleged American member of Islamic State has been marooned in the no-man’s land between the Turkish and Greek borders after the Greek authorities refused him entry, according to a Turkish news report.

The Turkish television channel Haber 7 screened video images of a man dressed in dark clothes waving at the camera from the strip of land between the two border posts.

Jean-Charles Brisard, the president of the Centre for Analysis of Terrorism in Paris, said in a tweet that the video showed how “a Isis jihadist expelled by Turkey to Greece is literally stuck in the buffer zone separating the two countries after Greece’s refusal to allow entry into the territory”.

A state department spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports of the detainment of a US citizen by Turkish authorities. Due to privacy considerations we have no further comment.”

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is due to visit Washington on Wednesday when he is expected to discuss the fate of foreign fighters caught in Isis ranks.

On Monday Turkey said it had begun deporting foreign members of Isis held in custody, in a policy that risks diplomatic fallout with its European allies.

One US citizen had already been repatriated and seven German nationals were due to be flown home on 14 November, the interior ministry spokesperson İsmail Çataklı said on Monday. Preparations to deport two Irish, 11 French, and three Danish citizens were also under way, he said. The suspects were not immediately identified.

The interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, said last week that Ankara would begin to send Isis militants back to their home countries from Monday even if they had been stripped of their citizenship, saying Turkey was not a “hotel” for foreign jihadis.

The broadcaster NTV quoted Çataklı as saying that “three more Islamic State militants at deportation centres will be sent back today”.

Turkey aimed to repatriate about 2,500 militants, the majority of whom would be sent to European Union nations, the state broadcaster TRT Haber said, adding that there were 813 jihadists at 12 deportation centres around the country.

Ankara has repeatedly criticised European nations in particular for refusing to take back any of the foreign nationals held in Turkish prisons and for stripping them of their citizenship.

A further 287 people, including women and children, had been captured by Turkey as a result of Ankara’s invasion of Kurdish-held areas of Syria last month, Soylu said.

Turkey has not given total numbers and nationalities of those it is planning to send home, or details on how such a policy will work. Many countries request passenger lists for both military and commercial flights before a plane is allowed to enter their airspace.

Several European countries, including the UK, have stripped Isis fighters of their citizenship to prevent their return, leaving many legally stateless and creating a problem for Ankara.

Turkey’s foreign ministry directed requests for comment to the interior ministry. The interior ministry did not immediately respond.

The French defence minister Florence Parly told French radio on Monday morning that she had no knowledge of any specific repatriation at this point, but she said France had a strict repatriation protocol in place with Turkey “which allows us to repatriate French terrorists when the situation arises”.

In The Hague, a Dutch court said the government must use “all possible means”, including a US offer of help with repatriation, to bring home 56 children whose mothers travelled to Syria to join Isis and other Islamic extremist groups.

British diplomats said the policy did not appear to apply to UK nationals held by Turkey. Aine Davis, a member of the cell known as “the Beatles”, who beheaded hostages in Syria, is serving seven and-a-half-years in a Turkish prison.

The British woman Tooba Gondal is also believed to be in Turkish custody, having escaped a Kurdish-run detention centre during the recent fighting in north Syria.

Since 2010, the UK has stripped more than 100 people of British citizenship over their alleged links to Isis, al-Qaida, al-Shabab and other terrorist groups. The policy has led to prolonged legal battles in some high-profile cases including those of the Isis member Shamima Begum and the alleged member Jack Letts, both of whom are held by Kurdish forces in Syria.

Additional reporting by Jon Henley and Angelique Chrisafis

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