ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police have detained an alleged top commander of the Islamic State group in Turkey, as well as 11 suspected collaborators, Turkish officials said Tuesday.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu identified the suspect as Mahmut Ozden and described him as the “so-called emir” of the militant group in Turkey.
Police seized the suspect’s computer and other “digital material” which revealed that the group took orders from “Iraq or Syria” and planned to kidnap Turkish politicians and to take them to Syria. The group also planned to attack businesses, the minister said.
Soylu told reporters that information obtained from an IS militant who was detained in a raid in Istanbul last month while reportedly planning to conduct a “sensational” attack in the city, led to Ozden’s arrest. Operations against the group are ongoing, Soylu added.
Police in Istanbul later announced that 11 people linked to Ozden were detained in raids and that they were under orders to carry out attacks in several Turkish provinces.
Police said Ozden was detained in an operation in the southern city of Adana. He appeared before a court on Tuesday which ordered his formal arrest and imprisonment pending charges.
Turkey has suffered a string of attacks by Islamic State militants over the past five years, including an attack at an Istanbul nightclub during New Year celebrations in the early hours of 2017. The attack killed 39 people, most of them foreigners.
Last month, police in northwestern Bursa province also detained a suspected IS militant who was allegedly planning an attack on a police station.