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France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory

France on Friday charged a man with murder days after his expulsion from Turkey, holding him in custody over crimes alleged to have taken place in jihadist-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.

France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory
People walk under a billboard erected by the Islamic State (IS) group as part of a campaign in the IS controlled Syrian city of Raqqa in 2014. Photo: Raqa Media Center / AFP
Using the pseudonym “Abou Salman al Faransi”, 26-year-old Othman Garrido is believed to have arrived in the region in 2012, where anti-terror prosecutors (PNAT) say he committed “murder in connection with a terrorist undertaking” and joined a “terrorist conspiracy”.
   
He is believed to have played an important role in and have information on the French jihadist scene.
   
A judge on Friday ordered him jailed provisionally after he spent the week in police custody.
   
“Based on photographs of abuses where he is visible”, Garrido “was likely involved in other murders in Iraq and Syria” being probed in a separate investigation, PNAT said.
 
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Prosecutors suspect him of three murders in total, although they have not been able to precisely date the crimes.
   
France has had an arrest warrant out since 2016 for Garrido, a native of southern city Montpellier.
   
Turkish forces captured him near the Syrian border in July, and handed him over under a Paris-Ankara deal covering the return of French jihadists.
   
A youth court sentenced Garrido in 2017 to 15 years in jail for joining the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, where he trained and fought as well as attempting to incite violence by French Muslims.
 
   
After burning his French passport, Garrido urged Muslims to kill “infidels” in a seven-minute video distributed by IS' communications arm in 2014.
   
He was flanked in that recording by two other French jihadists using the pseudonyms Abou Ousama al Faransi and Abou Maryam al Faransi.   
 
Garrido's parents and two of his brothers have also received jailed sentences of 10 and 15 years. It is unclear whether his brothers, who also travelled to Syria, remain alive.

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French Islamic State mother jailed for 14 years

A French mother who took her three children to Syria to join the Islamic State jihadist group in 2014 was sentenced to 14 years in jail in Paris on Friday.

French Islamic State mother jailed for 14 years
The woman was arrested shortly after landing at Istanbul Airport. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP
Judges convicted Jihane Makhzoumi, 38, of charges including terrorism and child abandonment, highlighting her “informed participation in a criminal enterprise” described as “bloodthirsty”.
   
“Only a significant sentence could be imposed under these circumstances,” the judges added.
   
Makhzoumi left France with her partner Eddy Leroux – another IS convert believed to have been killed in Syria – her three young children and a fourth child, the daughter of Leroux.
   
She was arrested at a Paris airport when she returned along with her three children in 2016 – Leroux's daughter having apparently been left behind in Syria.
   
The prosecutor had told the court Makhzoumi had a personality of “appalling egocentrism” and had “at no time shown a capacity for empathy”.
 
“This departure to Syria is absolutely not an accident, it is the result of years of radicalisation,” said the prosecutor.
   
“The lives of their own children do not matter that much, in comparison to their project.”
   
Makhzoumi appeared visibly shocked when the verdict was announced and her lawyers labelled the sentence “totally disproportionate” and said they would appeal.
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