Turkish police, intelligence foil large-scale bomb attack by Daesh

This file photo shows Turkish police in Istanbul. Security services in Turkey took down a Daesh cell a day before the country's Republic Day. (AP)
Updated 30 October 2017
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Turkish police, intelligence foil large-scale bomb attack by Daesh

ANKARA: Turkish police and intelligence officials collapsed two terrorist cells in Istanbul over the weekend, preventing a large-scale bomb attack by Daesh.
A car loaded with homemade explosives and a bomb-laden motorcycle, as well as suicide vests and many bullets, were found in the parking area of a crowded shopping mall in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district on Oct. 28, just one day before the national celebrations of Republic Day.
Four suspected Daesh militants were detained in connection with the incident.
According to the authorities, the car and motorcycle were linked to two consecutive explosions that took place on Oct. 27 in two buildings in Istanbul’s Arnavutkoy and Esenyurt districts, followed by fire.
As a result of countrywide operations over the weekend, some 143 Daesh-linked terrorists, many of them of foreign origin, were detained in various cities including the capital Ankara, and in the western province of Izmir, the northwestern province of Bursa and the eastern province of Erzurum.
Police confiscated many digital materials and unlicensed weapons during the raids. Experts point out that the security operations of Turkish police increase especially before the celebrations of important national days, showing how big the Daesh terror threat is in the country.
There are many questions left unanswered, according to Serhat Erkmen, a Middle East expert at the Ankara-based 21st-Century Turkey Institute.
“We don’t know yet whether these newly captured Daesh terrorists are those who recently returned from Syria and Iraq, or whether they were those who have been nestled in Turkey for years,” he told Arab News, adding that the results of the police investigations will show the big picture in a much clearer way.
Erkmen also noted that it is also necessary to reveal why Daesh suspects caught in the shopping mall in Istanbul who were reportedly Turkish-origin Austrian citizens preferred to stage a failed terror attempt in Turkey rather than their country of origin.
“But fortunately Turkish police are getting increased expertise and capability in counter-terrorism efforts and are bringing down many cells, especially recently,” he added.
The latest report by the Soufan Center, a US-based think-tank, said out of 1,500 Turkish fighters who joined Daesh, about 900 have returned home — a new risk factor for domestic and regional security.
“With the increased loss of territory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh began implementing a new existential strategy by downsizing into a micro level in the countries to continue their existence, which is also the case in Turkey,” Abdullah Agar, a security expert and retired special warfare and commando officer, told Arab News.
“Nowadays Daesh transfers its activities toward other countries like Libya, Afghanistan, African countries or neighborhood Turkey. But the fact that Turkey carries its anti-Daesh efforts in a systematic way decreases this threat to a significant level,” he added.
“However, despite all efforts of Turkish police and intelligence, the threat is always present because it is a continuing struggle until the underlying conditions that fed this terrorism are eradicated completely.”
Agar also underlined that Daesh chooses symbolic days, dates, figures and locations to carry out its terror attacks.
“All Turkish nationals who return home after joining Daesh should be on trial if they have been involved in any terror act, while their families should absolutely be put under a rehabilitation program and be in strict monitoring,” he added.
Since Aug. 15, 2016, Turkish police in Istanbul have conducted 136 operations against Daesh and detained 968 suspects. At the risk-analysis centers set up by Turkish officials at airports and bus stations to catch foreign fighters, 940 Daesh suspects were reported in the same period.
During a press conference in Ankara on Oct. 30, Ozturk Yilmaz, the deputy group chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, urged the Turkish government to increase intelligence measures against terrorism, and claimed that various Daesh-linked radical group cells established in Turkey are planning further symbolic attacks.
“We believe the government should take strict, extensive and results-focused measures against these groups in order to end their existence,” he said, urging the government to implement a more “careful approach, especially concerning border security and security checks and visa services in airports.”


Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

A Turkish soldier is seen in an armoured personnel carrier at a check point near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

  • Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained

SYDNEY: A Turkish court rejected an Australian request to extradite a citizen it believes is a top recruiter for the Daesh group, Australia’s foreign minister said on Friday, in a setback for Canberra’s efforts to prosecute him at home.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Daesh videos and magazines. Australia has alleged that he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of militancy.
“We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision,” she said.
Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained there nearly two years ago.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported from Kilis that Prakash was initially ordered to be freed but was later charged under Turkish law with being a Daesh member.
A spokesman at Turkey’s foreign ministry in Istanbul had no immediate comment and the Turkish embassy in Australia did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a militant group.
Canberra announced financial sanctions against Prakash in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
The Australian government wrongly reported in 2016, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq or Syria.
A staunch ally of the United States and its actions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Australia believes more than 100 of its citizens were fighting in the region.