Turkey detained nearly 200 people over suspected links to Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists over a two-day period as part of enhanced counterterrorism efforts ahead of New Year celebrations.
On Friday, Turkish law enforcement arrested 75 alleged ISIS terrorists after detaining nearly 120 such suspects the previous day.
Citing Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Reuters noted that around 500 police officers participated in “simultaneous raids” in the Turkish capital of Ankara alone on Friday.
The Anadolu Agency (AA) explained:
Counter-terrorism police conducted a series of dawn raids across the capital Ankara, detaining 29 people, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media. The raids came after Ankara prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 46 suspects, most of whom were reportedly foreign nationals. Some of the suspects were believed to be preparing for a terror attack on New Year’s celebrations, the source added.
Turkish police also raided 25 different locations on Friday and arrested 46 suspected ISIS members, including 43 foreigners, alleged the police source.
Citing Turkish police, Reuters reported that the suspects were involved in “smuggling and theft” activities for ISIS.
On Thursday, “Police detained a total of 120 people, including Syrian and Iraqi citizens, over suspected links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in various operations conducted in 12 provinces across Turkey,” revealed Hurriyet Daily News, citing AA.
During the New Year’s celebration at the end of 2016, an ISIS-linked terrorist armed with an assault rifle killed 39 people at a nightclub in Istanbul, including foreign nationals from various Arab nations, India, and Canada.
Turkey is expected to more than double the number of police officers deployed in Istanbul ahead of this year’s celebrations.
Reuters learned from Turkish officials that Turkey will increase the number of police officers to “37,000 and ban public celebrations in key districts on New Year’s Eve for security reasons, a year after a gunman killed 39 people in a nightclub.”
The Turkish police reportedly already unveiled some of its contingency measures, namely its intention to ban access to Ankara’s central Kizilay square on December 31, close many roads in Istanbul, and prohibit heavy vehicles.
“More than 300 people have lost their lives in [ISIS] Daesh-claimed attacks in Turkey, where the terror organization has targeted civilians in suicide bombings, and rocket and gun attacks,” noted Anadolu. “Turkish security forces have been involved in a long-running campaign to thwart Daesh attacks.”