Çağatay Kenarlı / Istanbul, Oct 22 () - Twelve suspects have been detained for having links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Istanbul, with three of them reported to be senior ISIL leaders in Chechnya and Dagestan.
Mohamed al-Haj S., an ISIL-linked suspect of Chechen origin, was detained in Istanbul early Oct. 20 after Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers raided a home in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district.
Six laser range finders, three binoculars and a telescope were seized in the raid of home of the Chechen militant, who had long been physically and technically surveilled.
Security sources said Mohamed al-Haj S. was one of the senior ISIL leaders in Chechnya and that he had been to conflict zones in Syria multiple times. The Chechen militant was arrested after giving testimony at the Istanbul Police Department.
In a separate anti-terror operation, 11 ISIL-linked suspects of Dagestani origin were detained early Oct. 21 after Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers raided six separate homes in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district.
Security sources said two of the eleven suspects, who were identified as Aslan T. and Mahmut Ş, were senior ISIL leaders in Dagestan and that the two headed recruitment and logistics activities in Istanbul for those coming from Russia to join ISIL.
The other nine suspects detained in the Oct. 21 raids said they came to Istanbul to head to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria, according to their testimonies.
The nine were then taken to the foreigners bureau of the police department for deportation procedures.
Turkey has stepped up anti-terror operations against ISIL as two suicide bombing perpetrators in the deadly twin blasts in Ankara were reported to be ISIL militants.
The twin blasts ahead of a peace rally in the Turkish capital on Oct. 10 struck the country, leaving more than 102 civilians dead and hundreds of others injured.