Turkey said to detain 32 IS-linked suspects, foil attacks on synagogues and churches

Suspects, including 3 alleged senior IS operatives, detained in dawn raids on 9 provinces across Turkey, Anadolu news agency reports

In this October 13, 2014 photo, a man shows an Islamic State flag at an Islamic bookstore in the Fatih district of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
In this October 13, 2014 photo, a man shows an Islamic State flag at an Islamic bookstore in the Fatih district of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish security forces have detained 32 people suspected of links to the Islamic State terror group who were allegedly planning to carry out attacks on synagogues and churches as well as the Iraqi Embassy, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Friday.

The suspects, including three alleged senior IS operatives, were detained in raids carried out at dawn in nine provinces across Turkey, Anadolu Agency reported, citing unnamed security sources.

They were detained in a joint operation by the country’s intelligence agency and police, the agency said.

The arrests came a week after police rounded up 304 suspected IS operatives in simultaneous raids across Turkey in what appeared to be a security sweep leading up to the New Year festivities.

The Islamic State group has carried out a string of deadly attacks in Turkey, including  a shooting at an Istanbul night club on January 1, 2017, that killed 39 people during New Year celebrations and a suicide bombing in Istanbul in March 2016 that left three Israelis dead and 11 wounded.

Turkish Jewish institutions have also been targeted before by terrorists responding to geopolitical issues. In 2003, Al-Qaeda orchestrated a wave of bombings in Istanbul, hitting symbolic Western targets, such as the British consulate and local headquarters of the British HSBC bank. They also bombed two Turkish synagogues, killing 28 people and injuring hundreds.

Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, leaving two police officers injured. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

In February, Istanbul police arrested 15 suspects connected to the Islamic State terror group, who were allegedly plotting to target synagogues and churches in Turkey.

The arrests came a month after the US state department issued a warning to US citizens residing in Turkey that terror attacks could be imminent against diplomatic institutions and places Westerners are known to congregate, specifically naming churches and synagogues.

The Mossad spy agency has been credited with helping to foil several plots to carry out terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey over the past two years, reportedly due to ties with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

Most of the reported attack plots were linked to the Islamic State jihadist terror group and targeted businesspeople and other Israelis in Turkey.

Earlier this month, the National Security Council reiterated its recommendation that Israelis reconsider all travel abroad and called on those who do need to travel overseas to avoid outward displays of their Jewish and Israeli identities amid rising antisemitism around the world as Israel fights the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

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