Terror group expanding presence in Turkey

Monday, July 5, 2004

ANKARA Ansar Al Islam, regarded as one of the most lethal Islamic insurgency groups, has extended its operation to Turkey.

Turkish officials said Ansar Al Islam operatives have been stationed in several cities of Turkey to plan attacks. They said these operatives were trained by Al Qaida and infiltrated Turkey from neighboring Iraq.

Ansar Al Islam was believed to have carried out the November 2003 suicide strikes against synagogues and banks in Istanbul. More than 60 people were killed in the car bombings, Middle East Newsline reported.

Since then, officials said, Ansar operatives have been streaming into Turkey. They said many of them could have come under the guise of Kurdish insurgents.

On June 18, Turkish security forces captured four suspected Ansar operatives in Bursa and Istanbul in a plot to attack the NATO summit at the end of this month. Officials said Turkish police seized several remote-control bombs as part of a plot to infiltrate a car bomb into the summit grounds.

Officials said the four men have confessed to being part of Al Qaida-inspired plans to carry out suicide attacks. The suspects were arraigned at Istanbul State Security Court.

Earlier, three other Ansar members were detained in a counter-insurgency operation in Istanbul.

In Bursa, authorities said police arrested 16 people suspected of planning to attack the NATO summit as well as synagogues. No further details were reported.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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