Turkish police: Seven detainees fought for ISIL in Syria, recruited members
İZMİR – Anadolu Agency
Cihan PhotoTurkish police has found that the seven suspects detained in an operation conducted in three cities on July 1 had fought in Syria for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while also recruiting new members for the jihadist group through social media.
As of July 2, counterterrorism units at the İzmir Police Department were still interrogating the seven suspects, who were detained in provinces of İzmir, Isparta and Erzurum.
Officials from the police department said the suspects were members of ISIL and had fought for the group by crossing into Syrian territories from time to time.
ISIL members residing in towns of Menemen and Buca, in İzmir, were in contact with one another. They used social media to recruit followers who showed interest in their accounts and what they shared through the “like” and “share” buttons.
Thus, the members eventually managed to recruit followers through social media. They also transferred money to ISIL, which they collected under the pretext of charity and aid.
Police haven’t yet found any indication showing that the group had an “action plan” to be conducted in Turkey. After their interrogation is completed, the detainees will be sent to the courthouse.
The seven suspects were detained in 22 raids, after receiving intelligence that some members of ISIL passed into Turkey from Syria and then travelled to İzmir.
The police found two guns, an ISIL flag and many organizational documents during searches conducted in Buca and Menemen.
Turkey shares a 911-kilometer long border with Syria, where thousands of foreign fighters have joined militant groups such as ISIL. Turkey continues to closely cooperate with other countries to stop the flow of the fighters to Syria.
In January, foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey also had concerns regarding the return of Turkish citizens who fought alongside jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
At the time, Çavuşoğlu said there are currently 500-700 Turkish nationals who joined ISIL, expressing his concerns over potential terrorist attacks after their return to the country and saying Turkey is also an open target for ISIL.