A Syrian man arrested in Turkey last month for allegedly helping three British schoolgirls join Islamic State militants told police he was in touch with Canadian officials as far back as 2013 and had helped a dozen other people cross into Syria, according to Turkish media reports.
Turkey's Foreign Minister revealed last week that police had arrested the man, who he said had been working for another country's foreign intelligence service. Mevluet Cavuolu would not name the country in question but said it's part of the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State extremists and is not the United States nor a member in the European Union.
Turkish media reports last week said the man was working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and identified him as Mohammed al-Rashed.
The Turkish media reports cited information from security sources and a statement Mr. al-Rashed allegedly made to police after his arrest. The Canadian government says Mr. al-Rashed is not a Canadian citizen nor CSIS employee but has refused to comment further.
The revelations come at a time when Turkey is under pressure to demonstrate its commitment to restricting the flow of foreign jihadis to Syria. Turkey's relatively porous border with Syria offers a key entry point for those looking to join Islamic State militants, despite recent efforts by the Turkish government to crack down on the practice.
On Sunday, pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah reported additional details about Mr. al-Rashed's alleged relationship with Canadian security officials, which it said came from a statement he gave to police after his arrest.
Mr. al-Rashed told police that he first came in contact with Canadian officials in 2013 when he was seeking asylum in Canada, the newspaper said, and Canadian officials offered the prospect of citizenship in exchange for information about Islamic State militant operations.
According to the Daily Sabah, Mr. al-Rashed told police that he had collected information from a hospital he worked at in the Islamic State-occupied city of Raqqa and transferred it to a contact at the Canadian embassy in neighbouring Jordan.
He told police he delivered a range of information to the embassy, including passport details, baggage tags and information about foreigners travelling to Syria to join Islamic State militants, the newspaper said. Mr. al-Rashed also indicated he had helped 12 other people – in addition to the three British schoolgirls – to cross into Syria and shared information about all of the crossings with his contact at the Canadian embassy, according to the newspaper report.
The Globe and Mail has not viewed the police statement and cannot verify its authenticity.
Mr. al-Rashed told police that the cost of his plane and bus tickets were covered by the embassy, according to the Turkish newspaper. He identified his contact at the embassy as "Matt," who he said was handing over the information to a superior named "Claude."
He also identified an Islamic State contact, whom he called "Abu Kaka," and said he was a British citizen based in Raqqa, according to the Daily Sabah. Mr. al-Rashed told police he was receiving money from abroad and transferring it to his brother in Raqqa via a jeweller in a Turkish town near the Syrian border.