Missing Londoner found in Turkey had ‘settled’ in ISIS-held Raqqa with British wife
Stefan Aristidou, who grew up in Enfield, north London, is understood to have told Turkish authorities that he had travelled to Syria not to fight with the group but to “settle.”
In April 2015, Aristidou, who is of Greek origin, landed at Larnaca Airport on the southeastern coast of Cyprus. Seven days later he went “missing.”
Back in the UK, his family heard nothing from him for two years, despite issuing desperate pleas through missing persons charities and on social media.
This week, the British national was tracked to the Turkish town of Kilis, three miles from the Syrian border and around 43 miles from Aleppo. He was picked up with a British woman of Bangladeshi origin identified as his wife. An American man was also detained.
It comes amid reports of a mass exodus of IS fighters from Syria and Iraq as the terrorist group loses its hold in the region.
Around 850 foreign fighters have travelled from the UK to Syria and Iraq to fight with IS and other jihadist groups. It is thought that around half of these fighters have already returned to the UK, while around 200 have died.
“We are in contact with the Turkish authorities following the detention of a British man on the Turkey/Syria border,” a spokesperson for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.
According to the Daily Mail, Aristidou’s wife has been released, though she could face charges. The men, who are still detained, may face sentences between seven and a half and 15 years, the newspaper says.
Shortly after he went missing, Aristidou’s family worked with the Lucie Blackman Trust – a charity set up to help relatives of missing or murdered people overseas, the Guardian reports. After it learned of Aristidou’s arrest, the appeal was taken down.
“The Lucie Blackman Trust supports families with a loved one missing overseas. This appeal was launched some time ago in good faith but given the nature of the reports the appeal has been closed,” a spokesperson for the charity told the newspaper.