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27 May 2024

More suspects detained in Turkey's Al Qaeda crackdown

By Agencies


Turkish police have detained six more people in a crackdown on alleged Al Qaeda militants suspected of planning car bomb attacks in Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.


The detention brings to 25 the number of people rounded up since Thursday when anti-terror police carried out simultaneous raids on 18 houses in Turkey's southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras.


Four alleged members of the extremist network and a policeman were killed in a gun battle during the operation.


Police believe that one of them, 41-year-old Mehmet Polat, who was shot dead along with his son after holding out for about 12 hours, assumed the leadership of an Al-Qaeda cell in Gaziantep after his predecessor joined the insurgency in Iraq and was killed there in June, Anatolia reported on Sunday.


Three of the suspects, including a Russian national of Chechen origin, were detained in Istanbul. They are believed to have acted as couriers between Al Qaeda militants within Turkey and abroad, the report said.


The police have determined that some of the suspects used fake passports to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan to meet Al Qaeda leaders and make plans about the group's activities in Turkey, Anatolia reported.


The security forces seized 13 guns, ammunition and more than 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds) of chemicals used in making bombs as well as printed Al Qaeda material following Thursday's raids.

Since December the authorities have arrested 39 people with suspected links to Al Qaeda in two other operations in Turkey.


A Turkish cell of the extremist network was blamed for truck bombs that targeted two synagogues in Istanbul on November 15, 2003, and the British consulate and a British bank five days later. The attacks killed 63 people, injuring hundreds and causing huge material damage.


Last year, seven men were jailed for life over the bombings, one of them a Syrian national who masterminded and financed the attacks.  (AFP)