RT news – Published time: February 19, 2015 18:04
“The jihadist militants could be working on armed or bombing attacks in Ankara and Istanbul against the diplomatic missions of the countries involved in the US-led anti-ISIL [ISIS] coalition,” said the Hurriyet newspaper, citing the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
The agency, which refused to provide additional information when contacted by Reuters, warned the police that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists repelled from the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, are now looking for ways to cross the border. Hurriyet said that MIT sent a warning as far back as February 3 to local police departments, in an attempt to intercept the flow of terrorists.
It was unclear how many of the jihadists have already penetrated the Turkish border, but MIT said that some have already been sheltered in safe houses in the south of the country. MIT reports that some of the terrorists – a group of men from 17 to 25 from Palestine and Syria – intend to cross into Bulgaria, and from there into the rest of the EU.
Last month, Turkey declared that 3,000 people – a figure that does not include the potential new influx – inside the country have connections with the radical Sunni movement. Moreover, the Turkish foreign ministry says there are between 700 and 1,000 Turkish fighters in the group, whose potential return concerns Ankara. The country has already deported over a thousand people and slapped an entry ban on 7,800 others.
Jihadists reportedly control many points on the Syria-Turkish border. Ankara has repeatedly been accused of not taking action to stop the flow of extremists seeking to join the Islamic State in Syria.
Moreover, Damascus accused Turkey of providing logistic support to Islamic radicals fighting in Syria.
“Is it Turkey’s fault it has borders with Syria?” Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu recently said, responding to calls by Germany’s domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen to take more action to prevent jihadists from entering Syria and Iraq via Turkey. “We need to receive intelligence first so we can track people.”
The Islamic State, which has set itself the goal of creating a Sunni caliphate stretching across the Middle East and beyond, has recently indicated a greater focus on targets outside the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria.
‘Sleeper cells’: 3,000 in Turkey linked to ISIS, police report says
About 3,000 people have been linked to Islamic State militants in Turkey, says a police report. The data has prompted a red alert over possible attacks, including in NATO and the West, by the so-called “sleeper cells” of the jihadist group.
A Turkish police intelligence report has urged surveillance of about 3,000 people to observe their connections with the jihadists, sources told the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
“There are around 500-700 Turkish citizens who have joined the ranks of [Islamic State],” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier this week.
Those 3,000 “possible links” to jihadists are additional to the group of about 700 Turkish fighters who are already fighting alongside Islamic State.
The criminal records of foreign fighters who joined the IS militants via Turkey were absent, said the report, adding that it had created problems with security sources.
“A common concern about the foreign fighters is: What will happen when they return to their homeland? We have this concern too.”
Ankara has so far banned entry to 7,250 people from abroad who were planning to join the Islamic State jihadists, and has deported 1,165 would-be extremists.