Turkish police seize ‘record’ amount of explosives in ISIL operation
Police have seized a "record” amount of explosives in an operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that helped foil the group’s plan to carry out a massacre at the Forum Istanbul shopping mall.
According to intelligence units, the anti-ISIL operation conducted over the weekend prevented a major bomb attack that the militants planned to stage in Istanbul.
“This is maybe the biggest and most successful operation of the past 30 years when taking its contents into account,” a high level intelligence source told daily Habertürk on Nov. 2, adding that the joint efforts of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and Istanbul police saved Turkey from a massive disaster.
Anti-terror police in Istanbul launched an operation on Oct. 27 after two consecutive explosions took place in two buildings in Istanbul’s Esenyurt and Arnavutköy districts.
In the raids that followed the blasts, police confiscated a total of 56 bomb set-ups prepared with 16 different chemical materials and strengthened with aluminum and steel marbles, 67 bomb molds weighing between three and four kilograms each, 32 propane cylinders, gas cans, iron marbles and four suicide vests ready to be worn.
According to the police, ISIL could have staged more than 40 attacks with the aforementioned amount of seized explosives.
Moreover, two kilograms of unidentified white powder was also found in one of the cell houses.
“This amount of explosives hasn’t been seized in a long time,” the intelligence officer told Habertürk, while praising the operation.
Mücahit Şahin and Can Yenil, who were caught in the mall, were being tracked by intelligence units over their suspected links to ISIL.
Police determined that they rented houses in Arnavutköy and Esenyurt, and both of them were staying with women believed to be their wives.
Both houses were under surveillance 24 hours a day in order to bust an ISIL cell, and the operation kicked off when Şahin and Yenil hastily left their houses late on Oct. 27, which was followed by explosions.
Intelligence units continued to track Şahin and Yenil and detained them, as well as the women with them, when they entered the mall in order to prevent a possible attack.
It was recently revealed that the four suspected militants set up a three-phase bomb plan aiming to carry out a massacre at the mall, which consisted of detonating bombs inside and outside the mall before donning suicide vests and staging suicide attacks targeting people rushing to help victims of the two blasts.
Meanwhile, police detained a total of 283 suspected ISIL militants in operations carried out in the past 11 days.
Police on Nov. 2 said they seized 66 improvised explosive devices during the anti-ISIL operations conducted in 25 provinces across Turkey.
The statement said that of the alleged ISIL militants caught, 96 are Turkish citizens while 187 others are foreign nationals. It didn’t provide information on their nationalities.