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Mother sues France over jihadist son’s trip to Syria

© Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP | French border police failed to question a teenage boy while travelling alone to Syria via Turkey

Text by Sam BALL , Steven JAMBOT

Latest update : 2014-12-08

In the first case of its kind, a mother is suing the French state after her teenage son travelled to Syria to join jihadists fighting there, claiming the authorities should have done more to stop him from making the journey to the war-torn country.

The 16-year-old boy travelled to Syria via Turkey last year, his mother, named as Nadine D, told French daily Le Parisien in an interview published Monday.

Despite his young age, the fact he was travelling alone on a route commonly used by Westerners heading to fight in Syria and was without a passport – only his national ID card – he did not rouse the suspicions of French border police, she said.

“Given current events, the border police should have at least questioned a minor travelling alone to such a destination,” Nadine told the newspaper.

“Common sense should have led them to ask him why he was going there, if he had family ties there and why he was not accompanied.”

Although the boy, whom the newspaper referred to by the false name Dylan, told his mother he was undertaking “humanitarian work” in the country, he is believed to have joined the ranks of jihadists fighting in Syria.

According to David Thomson, a journalist at RFI who has been in contact with Dylan, he is a member of a group of fighters affiliated with al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official Syrian branch.

Nadine filed a complaint against the state for misconduct at the Administrative Court in Paris in mid-November, demanding damages of 110,000 euros.

“Freedom of movement carries with it a duty by the police to act in a dangerous situation. That was the case here, but they let him pass,” said Nadine. “I hold the state responsible for the departure of my son.”

‘Police failed in their duty’

Under French law, minors with a valid ID are allowed to leave the country unaccompanied by an adult and a statement from France’s Interior Ministry insisted that border police had “no reason to prevent him from travelling”.

However, the law also requires police to take into account “the nature of risks and threats” of each situation and take action if necessary, said Nadine’s lawyer, Samia Maktouf.

“In leaving a minor to travel alone to a country known to be a transit route for jihadists without asking any questions, the police failed in their duty,” she told Le Parisien.

France has seen close to 1,000 of its citizens, including several teenagers, travel to Syria or Iraq to wage jihad.

The French government has recently beefed up anti-terror measures in an effort to stem the tide of French citizens waging jihad abroad, including a law allowing police to impose a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to join jihadist groups overseas.

When contacted by FRANCE 24, Maktouf said her client had decided to file the lawsuit “both for herself and other mothers in this situation”.

“If the court finds in our favour, it would set a precedent that all the mothers have been hoping for,” she said.

Nadine describes her son as a shy boy who was raised in a Catholic household but began taking an interest in Islam around a year before his departure.

She says she still has contact with him via Facebook and Skype.

“Our discussions are brief. He merely reassures me by telling me he's fine, that he doesn’t do anything bad,” she said.

Date created : 2014-12-08

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