Gaziantep police ‘stopped tracking ISIL cell before attacks’

Gaziantep police ‘stopped tracking ISIL cell before attacks’

Gaziantep police ‘stopped tracking ISIL cell before attacks’ Turkish police in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on March 2014 reportedly stopped tracking a group of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, who later staged deadly attacks in Turkey. 

Police stopped tracking militants in order to prevent them from receiving “unjust treatment” as part of a then-existing law stating that people suspected of involvement in terrorist activities cannot be tracked for more than six months to “prevent them from being victims,” according to the Doğan News Agency. 

Police in the southeastern province of Gaziantep monitored from 2012 to 2014 some 19 militants including Yunus Durmaz, the mastermind of the Suruç and Ankara bomb attacks and the former Turkey “emir” of ISIL, according to an indictment. 

A total of 19 militants of the group, along with eight fugitive suspects and Durmaz, who blew himself up during a police raid in late May, were physically and technologically tracked by the police for two years, and information and pictures obtained during this period were included in the indictment of an ISIL case opened in March.     

During the two-year period, the anti-terror police requested a tracking warrant from the prosecutor’s office every month and obtained it until March 2014. However, a Gaziantep court rejected the police’s demand in March 2014, paving the way for the militants to continue their preparations for attacks without being tracked.

“In order to prevent victimization in the future and in light of the related law, the further tracking of the militants was rejected,” read the court justification, adding that the maximum monitoring period could be six months, which was against the practice carried out by the police. 

The prosecutor’s office then ordered for the data regarding the suspects obtained over two years that did not include “an element of crime” to be destroyed, which was followed by the ending of the police’s tracking on March 17, 2014 and the destroying of the related recordings.

Eight of the 19 suspects were arrested during anti-ISIL operations conducted throughout 2015, while suspects Ahmet Güneş, Talha Güneş, Nusret Yılmaz, İlyas Kaya, Cebrail Kaya, Abidin Aygün, Kürşat Akçiçek and İsmail Pektaş were currently in Syria fighting for the organization.