Ankara: Turkey says it has detained an intelligence agent working for one of the states in the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State for helping three British teenage girls cross into Syria to join the jihadists.
The surprise revelation by Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday appeared aimed at deflecting sustained criticism from Western countries that Turkey is failing to halt the flow of jihadists across its borders.
“Do you know who helped those girls? He was captured. He was someone working for the intelligence [service] of a country in the coalition,” Mr Cavusoglu told the A-Haber channel in an interview published by the official Anatolia news agency.
A Turkish government official said the agent was arrested by Turkey’s security forces 10 days ago, and added that the person was not a Turkish citizen.
“We informed all the countries concerned,” the official said. “It’s not an EU member, it’s also not the United States. He is working for the intelligence of a country within the coalition,” Mr Cavusoglu added, without further specifying the nationality of the detained agent.
The coalition also includes countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Australia and Canada.
A European security source familiar with the case of the three girls said the person in question had a connection with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency.
A Canadian government source in Ottawa said the person was not a Canadian citizen and was not employed by CSIS. The source did not respond when asked whether the person had been working for CSIS.
The spy agency did not respond to requests for comment.
Close friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, crossed into Syria after boarding a flight from London to Istanbul on February 17. They took a bus from Istanbul to the south-eastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa close to the Syrian border, from where they are believed to have crossed the frontier.
March 13, 2015
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