Digital and other organizational material belonging to the terror group were confiscated in the operation, carried out after detention warrants for 245 suspects were issued by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office.
As part of a long-standing campaign against Daesh cells in Turkey, one of the primary aims of the operation is to counter an offshoot group within Daesh, “Tatlibal Group,” named after its Turkish leader Bayram Tatlibal.
Some 27 Daesh suspects were also detained in the northwestern province of Bursa through simultaneous operations at various addresses.
The operation followed a similar one this week in the central province of Kayseri in which four Daesh terror suspects were arrested. One of the suspects, an Iraqi man, recently shared footage of him killing his own brother — who opposed Daesh on his social media account — on the instructions of the terror group. The man confessed to infiltrating Turkey’s southern province of Hatay through Syria 20 days ago.
Emel Parlar Dal, associate professor in the International Relations Department at Marmara University in Istanbul, said that the main focus of the operation was sleeping cells and the recruitment network of Daesh in Turkey, including Tatlibal Group.
“With the foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq following the gradual loss of their territories, there is a risk that these cells may be reactivated,” Parlar Dal told Arab News.
The downfall of Daesh in the Syrian city of Raqqa did not signal the end of the group, she said.
“This operation clearly shows that the Daesh threat is still concrete and serious for Turkey.”
She said: “In this new period, Daesh is likely to use Turkey for a recruitment center for its foreign fighters as well as a logistics hub, which requires an exhaustive analysis about its possible strategies for using its networks in countries like Turkey to reactivate itself.”
According to Parlar Dal, this new period requires a joint action plan between Turkey and Western countries to eradicate new security threats.
This is not the first time that Turkish police have targeted the Tatlibal Group, which has been under surveillance since 2014, in its anti-terror operations.
In January 2016, Ankara counter-terrorism police detained 10 suspects belonging to the group. But its cadre recently made a decision to move to Syria, and the leader of the group is on the run.
Sertac Canalp Korkmaz, a researcher in security studies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, said the territorial losses of Daesh and the diminishing of the so-called “caliphate” project might traumatize its militants and sympathizers, which could push them toward organizing some “sensational” terror attacks.
“At this point, the active cooperation between the intelligence and the police forces has resulted in such successful operations and it is very important for maintaining Turkey’s domestic security,” Korkmaz told Arab News.
The Tatlibal group is known as a “takfir” group inside Daesh, and it is tasked with recruiting militants to the conflict zones.
“These people judge and accuse others of being unbeliever, or kaafir, and such terror groups abuse this concept. For them, many values in Turkey — such as republic, democracy, and secularism — do not coincide with their own interpretation of religion. Therefore, they target Turkey and similar countries,” Korkmaz said.
Since Aug. 15, 2016, Turkish police in Istanbul have launched 136 operations against Daesh and arrested 968 suspects.
Last month, Istanbul police foiled a Daesh bomb attack in a crowded shopping mall on the European side of the city. As a result of the operation, two Daesh-linked cells were brought down.