Paris attacks suspect stayed in İzmir: Report

Paris attacks suspect stayed in İzmir: Report

Paris attacks suspect stayed in İzmir: Report

DHA photo

One suspect of the Paris attacks stayed in Basmane, a neighborhood in İzmir once largely populated by Syrian migrants, according to several media reports, amid a fresh wave of police raids targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in the Aegean province.

Ahmad Al Mohammad, a Syrian man whose passport was found in the pocket of one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, reportedly blended in with migrants flocking to İzmir in late September and checked in to a hotel in the Basmane neighborhood on Oct. 2.

Al Mohammad reportedly stayed at Hotel Sultan and checked out on Oct. 4, while intelligence sources said he was last recorded in the Greek island of Leros. İzmir Gov. Mustafa Toprak, meanwhile, said the governor’s office had no record Al Mohammad had ever stayed in Basmane. 

Intelligence sources added they spotted a person with the same alleged name as the offender, but they assumed they were not the same person according to existing records, local reports said.

After the claim went public through several media outlets, officers from the İzmir Police Department Counterterrorism Unit conducted pre-dawn raids in Basmane, a transition point for foreign migrants seeking to cross into Greece and many other European countries by sea.

In police raids of 27 hotels in Basmane, 286 foreign nationals and 80 Turkish citizens were checked by the around 300 police officers involved in the operation. Two foreign nationals holding expired residency permits as well as 41 foreign nationals who did not hold passports or any sort of identification documents were sent to the İzmir Migration Management Directorate for deportation.

On Nov. 19, meanwhile, Turkey handed over to Greece a man suspected of seeking to join ISIL militants in Syria, though not in relation to any attacks under investigation, a police source told Agence France-Presse.

The suspect, a member of the Greek Muslim minority living in the northeastern town of Komotini, had been arrested in Turkey on Nov. 18.

The man is believed to have sought to join ISIL in Syria, but was not currently sought in connection to an active investigation, the source said.

The Nov. 18 arrest came as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Turkey and agreed with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to step up efforts to stem the refugee flow to Europe.