France

French teenage girl suspected of jihadist aspirations taken into police custody

The house of Assia Saidi in Villefontaine, France
The house of Assia Saidi in Villefontaine, France AFP Photo/Jean-Pierre Clatot

The 15-year-old was suspected of running away from her home in southern France and wanting to travel to Syria to wage jihad.

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A source close to investigation that Assia Saidi was found on Saturday night by her parents in a bar near Marseille station where she had been working for a few days.

According to prosecutors, investigators discovered a Facebook page under a pseudonym which showed she was planning "to leave France and wage jihad."

"That was the goal," the girl told LCI television, before admitting she had quickly changed her mind.

The case has made waves in France, home to Europe's largest Muslim population, where some 930 citizens or residents, including at least 60 women, are thought to be either actively engaged in jihad in Iraq and Syria or planning to go.

France has taken a leading role in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, participating in US-led air strikes there, although it has not yet taken military action in neighbouring Syria, where the jihadists also hold large swathes of territory.
Assia is in police custody for stealing her parents' bank card.

Her mother told BFMTV: "We decided to go to Marseille. We looked for her all day ... she threw herself into our arms. We're so happy. Everyone hugged, cried, laughed."
"We are so relieved, so happy that she has not gone abroad," the mother said.
 

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