40 Syria-bound Moroccans, one Syrian deported from Istanbul Atatürk Airport
Çetin Aydın – ISTANBUL
DHA photoSome 40 Moroccans and a Syrian have been deported from the Istanbul Atatürk Airport after criminal profilers determined the group could be entering Turkey to cross into Syria in an attempt to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
On Nov. 4, criminal profilers hired at Istanbul Atatürk Airport to find foreign fighters who wish to join ISIL designated a group of 45 passengers from Morocco’s Casablanca as “suspicious.”
After interviews with all 45, police authorized the entry of four individuals into Turkey, while the rest, 40 Moroccans and a Syrian, were held for further investigations of possible ISIL ties.
While none had thobes or long beards (a usual profile of ISIL-linked militants), the fact that all carried similar amounts of cash raised a red flag.
Suspicions proved right as investigations revealed the Syrian suspect was responsible for guiding 40 Moroccans into Syria. All militants were deported to their home countries by counterterrorism officials.
Meanwhile, the investigation brought to light a new ISIL policy created to adapt to tighter security controls.
According to reports, the militant jihadist organization has started to advise foreign fighters to travel in modern clothing in order to ensure entry into Turkey without encountering any problems.
Reports allege militants even frequented clubs and entertainment venues in order to deceive security officials.
While police units have been cautioned on ISIL’s new strategy, they were asked to be especially careful during meetings by left-wing organizations, likely targets for ISIL.
Turkey has stepped up efforts against ISIL, especially after the twin blasts in Ankara on Oct. 10 that killed 102 people ahead of a peace rally.
The country is an important route for the flow of foreign militants to join ISIL, as it shares a 900-km border with Syria. The Turkish military has recently started erecting a concrete wall along the border to prevent Islamist militants from crossing its borders.