Turkish police have been placed on high alert. AFP photo.
ANKARA, Turkey – Some 3,000 people in Turkey are linked to the Islamic State (ISIS), according to a police intelligence report, which warns of possible attacks and bombings by “sleeper cells,” the Hurriyet daily reported.
The police report says that the suspected ISIS sleepers should be placed under surveillance to determine whether or not they are active, the daily quotes sources as saying.
“The security measures for the consulates and assets of Western states have been raised to a maximum level with additional forces deployed. The new measures include patrol groups in addition to existing static security points,” Hurriyet said.
Two separate attacks in Istanbul in November 2003 that were claimed by al-Qaeda left 57 people dead and hundreds wounded.
Hurriyet reported that an “urgent” notice has been sent out to security forces, warning of new attacks following deadly attacks on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris, which claimed 17 lives along with those of the three attackers.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said this week that up to 700 Turkish nationals have joined ISIS, posing a security threat to Turkey when they return.
“Nearly 500-700 Turkish citizens have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq and this poses a security threat when those radicals return to Turkey,” he told reporters. “Therefore, we are anxious,” he said.
He said that Turkey has prevented 7,250 people from joining up with ISIS through Turkish borders and authorities deported 1,160 foreign nationals, who came to Turkey to join ISIS, back to their countries.
Ankara has been blamed by anti-ISIS organizations, mainly Kurdish politicians and MPs in Turkey, for reportedly facilitating travel by foreign jihadis into Turkey.
Foreign governments have asked Turkey to tighten its borders and stop suspected jihadis from joining ISIS in neighboring Syria.
Turkey has always denied accusations of allowing Islamic militants to cross into Syria for jihad. Ankara has acknowledged, however, that Hayat Boumedienne, a suspect wanted in connection with last week’s deadly attacks in Paris, had escaped across the Turkish border into Syria.