3,000 in Turkey linked to ISIL group, police intel report says

3,000 in Turkey linked to ISIL group, police intel report says

Fevzi Kızılkoyun ANKARA
3,000 in Turkey linked to ISIL group, police intel report says

A prayer was performed by an Islamist group for the Kouachi brothers, who attacked the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Istanbul’s Fatih district on Jan. 16. DHA Photo

There are around 3,000 people linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in Turkey, a police intelligence report has alleged, raising a red alert over the possible future actions of “sleeping cells” of the jihadist group, sources have told Hürriyet.

The number is in addition between 700 and 1,000 Turkish fighters in the group, whose potential return has concerned Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said earlier this week.

Turkey has so far deported 1,165 people and placed an entry ban on 7,250 more, Çavuşoğlu also said.

The police intelligence reports calls for sensitivity to detect the links of the fighters in Turkey.

It urged the surveillance of 3,000 people to observe their positions in ISIL and determine whether or not they are active, describing them as “sleeping cells.”

The police intelligence warning covers possible attacks on the consulates of Western countries by ISIL and al-Qaeda.

The warning to security units under an “urgent” notice said ISIL may stage new attacks following deadly attacks on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris, which claimed 17 lives along with those of the three attackers.

The study also warned about possible bomb attacks by ISIL or al-Qaeda.

Turkey faced four car bomb attacks in central Istanbul on Nov. 15, 2003, and Nov. 20, 2003, which left 57 people dead and hundreds wounded. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Beth Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues, the HSBC bank headquarters and the British Consulate. British Consul-General Roger Short was among the victims.

The security measures for the consulates and assets of Western states have been raised to a maximum level with additional forces deployed. The new measures include patrol groups in addition to existing static security points.

The warning also covers NATO facilities and citizens of Western countries.

The fact that ISIL militants control many points on Syria’s border with Turkey is increasing the risks, the notice said.

The report said the criminal reports of foreign fighters who join ISIL by passing through Turkey were absent, creating problems for security forces.

A close watch on such people’s connections in Turkey is crucial, it said.

“A common concern about the foreign fighters is: What will happen when they return to their countries? We also have this concern,” Çavuşoğlu told a group of reporters traveling with him to Nicosia on Jan. 14.

Underlining that Turkey had designated ISIL as a “merciless terrorist organization” that does not represent Islam in any way, Çavuşoğlu said: “Of course, a country that speaks like this is an open target of terror. We therefore have to be cautious and take the necessary measures.”