Report: Turkey traded UK fighters in swap with ISIS

British counter-terrorism officers have begun to investigate Shabazz Suleman, 18, a grammar school pupil, and Hisham Folkard, 26, two British citizens who are believed to have joined ISIS. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Two British extremists are allegedly among 180 rebel prisoners handed back to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by Turkey in return for the release of diplomats held by the group, UK daily The Times reported on Monday.

According to the newspaper, British counter-terrorism officers have begun to investigate Shabazz Suleman, 18, a grammar school pupil, and Hisham Folkard, 26, two British citizens who are believed to have joined ISIS.

Last month, 46 Turkish consular staff and three Iraqis who were seized by ISIS in Iraq were freed and returned home, ending Turkey’s most serious hostage crisis in recent years.

The two men were among 10 European Union citizens on a leaked list of names obtained by The Times.

The report from The Times is “credible,” UK government officials told the BBC.

Limited knowledge

Folkard’s father, a Roman Catholic who asked to remain anonymous, told The Times that he had not been in contact with his son since early August, after officers from a UK counter-terrorism unit contacted him to ask about Hisham’s older brother.

He claimed that he “hardly knew” either of the men, who had been taken away by their mother before travelling to Yemen to study Islam.

Suleman, who was due to take exams at a UK school, had expressed support for “the Islamic caliphate,” his friends said.

Shortly after the Turkish hostages were released by ISIS in September, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish government would not reveal details of how they were released.

“There are things we cannot talk about,” Erdogan told a group consisting of some of the hostages and their families. “To run the state is not like running a grocery store. We have to protect sensitive issues. If you don’t, there would be a price to pay.”

“Whether there was or wasn’t a swap - 49 personnel were returned to Turkey,” Erdogan added. “I would not exchange that for anything.”

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Last Update: 14:51 KSA 17:51 - GMT 14:51
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