A 16-year-old French girl was arrested at Nice’s airport in France on Saturday, as authorities suspected she was on her way to join an Islamic extremist group in Syria, France’s interior ministry said.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that a 20-year-old man was arrested over the weekend on suspicion he purchased the girl’s ticket to Turkey from where she would have presumably crossed into Syria. Cazeneuve said the girl’s parents were unaware of her intentions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The French news agency AFP reported that her detention is just one of a string of similar incidents in recent weeks involving French girls volunteering for the Islamic State and other militant groups.
In August, two French girls, aged 15 and 17, were charged with criminal conspiracy over their suspected intention to travel overseas to join a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, French police continued to investigate the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl from Argenteuil, a suburb of Paris, who is believed to have traveled to Syria for jihad purposes, France 24 reported.
An estimated 800 French nationals have traveled to the Syrian conflict zone to volunteer for jihadist groups according to Reuters.
Additionally, roughly one in six people in France have a positive view of the Islamic State terrorist group, according to a poll conducted this summer by ICM Research for the Russian state news outlet Rossiya Segodnya.
Lawmakers in France and neighboring Britain are currently considering a range of penalties to dissuade their citizens from volunteering as jihadist mercenaries, largely due to a fear they could later return and threaten the home front with their newly acquired terrorist tradecraft.
Among the ideas being debated: Stripping jihadists of their British citizenship and banning them from returning home.
In France, a bill is being considered which would confiscate the passports of those suspected of planning to embark on jihad and blocking radical Islamist websites.
According to Reuters, France is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, which numbers 5 million members.