Turkish police capture suspected top ISIS figure

Turkish police captured a suspected top aide of Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday.

The suspect, an Afghan national identified by the codename Basim, was detained in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district, the agency said.

The suspect is believed to have been involved in helping hide al-Baghdadi in Syria’s northern Idlib province after the fall of ISIS in 2019, as well as organising training for the jihadist group while in Syria and Iraq and serving on its decision-making council, according to Anadolu.

Turkey was one of the principal routes for foreign fighters trying to join ISIS at the height of the group’s self-declared caliphate.

The country continues to bea regional transit hub for group members,although Ankara has recently stepped up efforts to counter attempts of smuggling ISIS fighters and weaponry into war-torn Syria.

Meanwhile, Turkey has abandoned a separate probe on ISIS in which the prime suspect committed suicide, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

Yunus Durmaz, on trial for the Oct. 10, 2015 suicide bombing of a peace march outside the Ankara train station, detonated another bomb during an operation for his arrest in May 2016, Cumhuriyet cited Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as saying on Sunday.

Soylu was responding to a question by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairman Muharrem Erkek on why there had been no developments in the Durmaz case.

Erkek asked why Durmaz had not been detained despite 19 different tip-offs on his whereabouts and why his communication records had been erased after his death.

Soylu left the questions unanswered and merely said Durmaz had committed suicide, the newspaper said.

The Ankara bombing, in which two ISIS bombers blew themselves up in the midst of a crowd made up largely of leftists and Kurdish sympathisers, was the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Turkish history, killing 109 civilians and injuring 500 more.