Turkish police have foiled a planned ISIS terror strike on the Izmir holiday resort following a string of dawn raids. In total 445 suspects have been arrested across the country – including nine jihadis in the tourist resort plotting their attack. One of the men arrested in Izmir is a Syrian national who had made contact with people smuggling gangs to sneak ISIS terrorists into Europe. Around 100 suspects were arrested in the south east of the country near the border with Syria.
At least 60 suspected jihadis were arrested in Ankara, most of them believed to be foreign nationals. The operation around the country saw 150 suspects rounded up in Sanliurfa in the southeast and 47 in the nearby city of Gaziantep close to the Syrian border which has a known jihadist presence, Dogan said. One of the suspects detained in Izmir – a Syrian identified only as E.A. – is said to have been in touch with people smugglers in a bid to help the ISIS members escape to Europe, Anadolu said.
The New Year’s Eve attack on the Reina nightclub was the first time ISIS claimed responsibility for an atrocity in Turkey, although it had been suspected of several bombings during 2016. Police detained the suspected New Year’s Eve attacker, Abdulgadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, on January 16 after over over two weeks on the run and authorities say he has confessed to the massacre. The Hurriyet daily reported after the attack that ISIS also planned a simultaneous New Year’s strike in Ankara but dropped the plot after arrests by the Turkish authorities. Sources claim most of the 60 people detained in the capital are foreigners, although there is no information yet as to their nationality. Dozens more arrests were made in provinces ranging from Bursa in the west to Bingol in the east. In addition to the latest arrests, Turkey says at least 780 people, including 350 foreigners, remain in detention – some of whom have been convicted – over suspected links to the jihadist group.
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