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Jihadi 'recruiter' to be charged in France after Turkey handover

A child in al-Rai, near Aleppo, Syria Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

A jihadi recruiter was to be charged in France on Saturday after being handed over by Turkey, where he was arrested after leaving Syria. Kevin Guiavarch wrote to French authorities in 2016, claiming to have renounced Islamist violence.

Guiavarach, 24, is believed to have been a member of both the former al-Qaida affiliate, al-Nusra front, and the Islamic State (IS) armed group, before leaving Syria with his four wives and six children in 2016.

He was arrested in Turkey on 6 June and kept in jail until a court cleared his transfer to France on Friday.

Believing that he was a jihadi fundraiser, the UN had placed him on its most dangerous terrorist list in 2014, thus banning him from international travel.

Turkey had already deported his wives, who were charged with association with terrorist plotters and detained in October and November last year.

Convert to Islam

Guiavarach, a Breton who converted to Islam at the age of 14, is believed to have gone to Syria in 2012.

French investigators picked up his trail in 2014, believing that he had used social media to recruit a teenage girl from Troyes, eastern France, who left for Syria but was picked up in Germany and returned to her family.

Investigators say it is rare for a jihadi to return because many are killed in combat and IS tries to prevent its members leaving the areas it controls.

They hope Guiavarach will give them useful information on IS's structure and finances.

About 700 French nationals are currently fighting in IS's ranks, according to French authorities, and about 200 have been killed in Syria.