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French police stop 'teenage jihadist' from flying to Syria

© Philippe Huguen, AFP | File picture

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-09-01

French police stopped a 16-year-old girl from boarding a flight to Turkey at Nice airport on Saturday on suspicion that she was on her way to join an Islamist militia in Syria, the interior ministry said.

A man in his twenties was later arrested after he was linked to a cash payment for the teenager's airline ticket, according to a statement released by the ministry on Sunday.

The development comes after two other French female teenagers were arrested on August 19 and later charged with criminal conspiracy in relation to a terrorist organisation. These arrests were part of an ongoing investigation into the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl from the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, also suspected of travelling to Syria to join jihadist fighters.

The French interior ministry estimated in April that nearly 700 French citizens or residents have made their way to Syria since the conflict began.

Homegrown terror fears

Fears that homegrown extremists could return from Syria to carry out attacks in France prompted the government to recently introduce new measures to combat the radicalisation of disaffected youths.

They included a "hotline" that friends and family of would-be jihadists can call to provide authorities with information.

The interior ministry said the hotline had received nearly 300 tips in four months, of which one in four concerned minors.

A bill containing even tougher measures, including powers to ban those suspected of seeking to take up arms overseas from leaving the country, as well as the blocking of jihadist websites, is set to go before the French parliament later this year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-31

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