A family of seven suspected German Islamists arrived in Berlin on Thursday after the Turkish Interior Ministry announced earlier this week that it was kickstarting mass deportations of captured Daesh supporters, having faced backlash over its military campaign on the Syrian border, according to German authorities.
There are no German arrest warrants for Kanan B.’s family, which essentially means they are free to return to their homes in the central German state of Lower Saxony, albeit with police keeping an eye on the family.
According to Turkish authorities, Kanan B. attempted to travel to Syria with his family about a year ago, but it remains unclear if he reached his destination.
The family - two parents, two adult children, and three minors - had been kept in custody in the Turkish city of Izmir since March.
'No Serious Case’
German authorities said they do not believe Kanan B.'s family ever joined Islamic State, yet argued he was part of the "Salafist spectrum", a group of Muslims thought to stick to an exceptionally conservative interpretation of Islam.
Interior policy spokesman for Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Armin Schuster stands by the point of view that the German returnees were not "serious cases" going on to warn against media hysteria around Daesh supporters returning to their European homes.
"They did not take part in the fighting," he told the radio station Deutschlandfunk.
"They won't be sent to prison but they have to be kept under surveillance".
According to him, thorough checks of such citizens by law enforcement are common practice in Germany, and they will by all means be carried out with regard to the Kanan B. family.
Schuster further noted there are two more cases, and they are “a little more difficult”.
Two women deported by Ankara are already under investigation in Germany and are to be picked up by authorities at the airport, questioned, and searched. Prosecutors will then decide whether there is enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant.
Earlier in April, Germany brought back the first children of German Daesh* followers from Iraq.
Daesh Returnee Challenges
Debates show no signs of abating in Germany and in other European countries about how to deal with German citizens who joined Daesh and since been viewed as a security threat back home.
While Germany’s government was in agreement that citizens with dual nationality should be deprived of their German passports if they become members of terrorist groups, opposition parties have accused the government of trying to get round the responsibility of putting suspected Daesh members and their supporters on trial.
The opposition has accused the government of procrastinating instead of sorting out the issue sooner. Stephan Thomae, deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), ascertained that Berlin had little choice but to accept German citizens, but "the government kept its head in the sand for a long time, didn't want to have anything to do with these cases", he told DW.
"That is coming back to bite them now. It would have been better if the government had made contact with Turkey much earlier to discuss such processes".
Critics of deportations also argued that German prosecutors have little chance of bringing cases against Daesh members or supporters because of the difficulty proving their suspected roles in the terrorist organisation.
Erdogan Acts on Daesh Captives
On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced he was starting to send away suspected Daesh fighters and their supporters who had until recently been held in Turkish prisons.
Prior to making the deportation announcement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned European states that he would flood them with Daesh captives if they proceeded with their fierce criticism of Ankara’s Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria. The operation lasted a week before being halted by a ceasefire deal mediated by the US.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia