Turkey on alert after CIA intel on ISIL attack threat

Turkey on alert after CIA intel on ISIL attack threat

Turkey on alert after CIA intel on ISIL attack threat

Riot police secure the area after an explosion on a highway overpass near a subway station, wounding five people, in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. AP Photo

Turkey has received notice of serious terrorism threats as both the Turkish and U.S. intelligence agencies warned of a possible terrorist attack on U.S. interests in the country by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), daily Hürriyet has reported.

ISIL is reported to be targeting U.S. interests in Turkey, such as consulates, embassies, residences and military bases, according to intelligence gathered by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the country’s spy agency.

According to intelligence, two separate written warnings were issued on Dec. 2 and Dec. 5, respectively, with the names of five ISIL militants who had allegedly infiltrated the country.

The Turkish Police Department sent police departments in all 81 provinces a written warning following the joint intelligence work by the CIA and MİT that three Palestinians, who recently entered the country, would carry out a terrorist attack.

ISIL militants were also alleged to be targeting areas mostly populated primarily by Russian tourists and tourists from other nationalities.

In the written warning issued on Dec. 2, authorities said vigilance should be paid to ISIL-linked suspects who had infiltrated Turkey and planned to carry out terrorist attacks targeting U.S. interests in Turkey. 

Turkey has been under pressure to step up security against suspected ISIL militants operating in the country, after initial criticism that it acted too slowly to recognize the threat. 

The country, however, has long been conducting counterterrorism activities against ISIL after militants from the group were implicated both in the Suruç bombing and the twin Ankara suicide blasts.

The perpetrator of the suicide bombing attack in Suruç, a district in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, was identified to be an ISIL militant, who detonated himself and left dozens of civilians dead and more than 100 injured on July 20. 

The suicide bombers in the Ankara twin blasts were also identified to be ISIL militants, as they killed more than 100 and wounded hundreds of others outside a train station in the Turkish capital on Oct. 10. The attack in Ankara was the deadliest act of terrorism in Turkey’s history.

Turkey has captured more than 2,627 members of ISIL, including 837 foreign nationals, over the past three years, the state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.