A 16-year-old girl suspected of of making her way to Syria to join Muslim extremists was arrested Sunday at an airport in southern France, according to officials.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement that border police at Nice International Airport arrested the girl on Saturday, before she departed “for jihad.”
Suspicion was raised when a 22-year-old Chechen man was attempting to pay cash for her one-way ticket to Turkey. Turkish Airlines alerted French border police to the purchase.
The girl unconvincingly told the authorities that she was going to Istanbul to visit her grandmother. Upon contacting her home, the girl’s parents told police they have no family there and objected to her traveling to Turkey.
The Chechen man, who is believed to be the girl’s recruiter, was detained shortly thereafter. He is apparently an individual known to authorities for similar activity.
France estimates that as many as 800 of its citizens have left to join Islamist organizations in Syria.