Suspected 16-year-old wannabe jihadist arrested en route to Syria

Female French teenager was detained in Nice after a tip-off from Turkish Airlines

PARIS

A 16-year-old girl suspected would-be jihadist has been arrested at Nice airport in southern France as she apparently tried to reach Syria after a tip-off from Turkish Airlines.

A 22 year-old-man – already under police surveillance as a suspected jihadist recruiting agent – was also arrested later in Nice. He is believed to have given the girl money to buy a plane ticket to Turkey.

Turkish Airlines tipped off the French authorities after the girl, who has not been named, bought a ticket to Istanbul with cash on Saturday. The airline was apparently unconvinced by the girl’s claim that she was travelling to Turkey to visit her grandmother.

French authorities reportedly contacted the girl’s father who said he had no idea that she planned to leave the country. She was arrested before she could board her flight.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that border police at Nice airport arrested the girl on Saturday, before her departure "for jihad".

Thousands of foreign fighters, many from Western Europe, have joined extremist Islamist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, according to US and European intelligence estimates.

About 800 young French Muslims, some as young as 14, many of them girls or young women, are believed to have travelled to the two war-torn countries to join the so Islamic State or other jihadist groups.

France's Muslim community is the biggest in the European Union, at five million.

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