Arrest warrant out for French couple suspected of taking 4 girls to Middle East

ORLEANS, France (AFP) - French prosecutors said on Monday that two European arrest warrants had been issued for a couple thought to have left for the Middle East with four young girls.

The warrants follow suits filed separately by the former spouses of the couple. They are believed to have taken with them four girls aged between three and five.

The first suit was filed by Ms Ilham Tarbouni, who had no news of her three-year-old daughter after she went to her father's home for the summer. Police went to the home of the father, a Muslim convert, and found it empty. The 34-year-old had allegedly professed his intention to go to Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

His new companion, the mother of three young girls, was also missing. The father of two of the three, Abdel Hakim Labriak, filed a separate suit saying he feared his former wife and his daughters "had left for Iraq or Syria".

Like a number of European countries, France has expressed concern over radicalised young people leaving the country to fight in Iraq and Syria, and who could pose a risk to domestic security on their return.

In France, about 950 people are thought to fight or have fought in Syria, to have returned or be in the process of going there.

France recently unveiled a Bill aimed stopping aspiring jihadists from travelling to Syria. It includes a ban on foreign travel of up to six months for individuals suspected of radicalisation, and gives the authorities powers to temporarily confiscate passports.