ISTANBUL (AFP) – A man suspected of running Al-Qaeda’s operations in Turkey was among 48 people detained in nationwide raids earlier this week, the Anatolia news agency has reported.
Identified only as Ekrem K., the man was allegedly communicating with Al-Qaeda cells abroad and trained new recruits, the report said.
Police were also looking for another man who is suspected of establishing contact with Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report added.
Monday’s nationwide crackdown was launched in seven provinces upon intelligence that local Al-Qaeda cells were preparing to carry out attacks in major cities.
Twenty-three people were taken into custody in the central province of Konya, while 17 others were detained in Istanbul.
The remaining suspects were captured in the northwestern provinces of Kocaeli and Bursa, the western provinces of Izmir and Afyonkarahisar and southeastern Mardin.
A Turkish cell of Al-Qaeda is blamed for four suicide bombings in Istanbul — at two synagogues, the British consulate and a British-owned bank — in November 2003, which claimed 63 lives, left hundreds injured and caused massive destruction.
Seventy-three people, among them two Syrians, are currently on trial for the attacks.