Turkey arrests 4 Libyans for suspected ISIL links
AA PhotoFour Libyans suspected to be linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been arrested in southeastern Turkey ahead of joining the jihadist group in Syria.
The four, identified as 22-year-old Abdulmajit Mustafa Salih, 20-year-old Mahdi Saleh el-Btair, 18-year-old Khlifa Bashir Agoub and 20-year-old Abdullah İsa, were arrested in the Besni district of the southeastern province of Adıyaman late Feb. 10 by Besni District Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers upon intelligence that the quartet had arrived in Adıyaman via bus after a flight from flew from Libya to Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 10.
The four were reported to have rented a car with expired Turkish visas in order to head to Kilis, a southeastern Turkish province bordering Syria. The arrest came a day after the Libyans were detained on Feb. 9, as they were reported to be readying to cross into Syria from Kilis to join ISIL.
An official from the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition hailed Turkey for its efforts to combat ISIL militants inside and outside its border with Syria.
“This is having an impact. It is much harder for ISIL fighters to get into Syria now than it was even six months ago and once they’re in, it is much harder for them to get out,” U.S. State Department Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Bret McGurk said in a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 10.
ISIL was blamed for deadly bombings in Turkey during the second half of 2015. Two ISIL-linked suicide bombers killed four people in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 5, 2015, detonating themselves at a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally. Another killed 33 civilians on July 20, 2015, at the Amara Cultural Center in the southeastern district of Suruç. Two others killed at least 100 people attending a peace rally in Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015, in the deadliest attack in the country’s history.
The latest of its attacks targeted a German tourist group touring a square in Istanbul’s historic Fatih district on Jan. 12 this year, killing 11 and wounding 15 others.