Turkey has captured a top member of the extremist Islamic State (IS) group responsible for operations on its territory, the interior minister announced on Tuesday.
The jihadist group has claimed responsibility for a spate of deadly attacks in Turkey, including an assault on an upscale Istanbul nightclub during New Year’s Eve festivities just minutes into 2017, which left 39 people including tourists dead.
“Daesh’s so-called Turkey emir (commander) has been captured and detained,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu tweeted, praising the Turkish police.
DEAŞ’ın sözde Türkiye Emiri önemli planlarla yakalandı ve tutuklandı…
Teşekkürler, tebrikler Emniyet Teşkilatı 👏🇹🇷
— Süleyman Soylu | Maske😷 Mesafe↔️ Temizlik🧼 (@suleymansoylu) September 1, 2020
The minister was using a pejorative Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
Speaking to reporters later, Soylu identified the suspect as Mahmut Ozden, adding that he was captured after the August 18 arrest of another IS member who was allegedly planning an attack in Istanbul.
The suspect received orders from Syria and Iraq and was also asked to organize small-scale protests in Turkey, Soylu said in televised remarks.
The minister said police had also uncovered plans for several IS attacks, including a kidnapping plot.
“There’s an ongoing operation” to locate other suspects, he said.
Turkey has stepped up its campaign against the IS group at home and abroad, and allowed its territory to be used as a staging post for raids by a US-led international coalition battling jihadists in Syria.