Suspected ISIL scout in Paris attacks arrested in Turkey's Antalya
ISIL suspect Ahmet Dahmani is accompanied by police officers after his detention in Antalya. DHA photo
Turkish police have detained a Belgian man of Moroccan origin on suspicion that he scouted out the target sites for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in attacks that killed 132 people in Paris on Nov. 10.
The suspect, and two others detained for possible links to him, were arrested by a court on Nov. 21, Doğan News Agency reported.
Ahmet Dahmani, 26, was detained at a luxury hotel in the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya according to Doğan.
Two other men, 29-year-old Ahmet Tahir and 23-year-old MMohammed Verd -both Syrian citizens- were also detained on a nearby highway on suspicion that they had been sent by ISIL in Syria to ensure Dahmani's safe passage across the border and were planning to meet him. The suspects had fake passports in their possession, the police said.
Counter-terrorism police first became aware of Dahmani when he arrived on a flight to Antalya and tracked him to the hotel in the Manavgat district of the city.
"We believe that Dahmani was in contact with the terrorists who perpetrated the Paris attacks. The investigation continues," a Turkish government official told Reuters.
The security forces detained him because they believed he was an ISIL militant preparing to illegally cross the Turkish-Syrian border, the official said.
The Belgian authorities had not warned Turkey about Dahmani and he was therefore not among the more than 26,000 names on a list of people, maintained by the Turkish authorities but largely based on foreign intelligence, banned from entering Turkey.
"Had the Belgian authorities alerted us in due time, Dahmani could have been apprehended at the airport," the official said.
Turkey estimates that no more than 1,300 of its nationals are among the many thousands of foreign fighters to have joined the ranks of ISIL in Syria, less than from some Western European countries.
But the group, which holds territory adjacent to the Turkish border in Syria, is trying to recruit more.
In a Turkish-language video released by ISIL’s media arm AlHayat on Nov. 21, the group called on Turkish
Muslims to move to the lands under its control, assuring them it is not dangerous there and that life is “normal and prosperous,” Reuters reported.
The eight, who said they had arrived at Atatürk Airport on Nov. 17 night from Casablanca for a holiday, were detained by border police and questioned by profiling experts who flagged them as suspected militants, a government official told Reuters.