04/18/2024, 14.17
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Istanbul: investigation unveils Isis-K network linked to the St. Mary's attack

At least 12 people are under investigation, six of whom are currently in jail. At the centre of the investigation is a cell based in Başakşehir and responsible for the attack on the Franciscan parish at the end of January. Other operations targeting the parliament, military barracks and police stations are under investigation. 

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - A crackdown by the Turkish authorities is underway against groups linked to the Islamic State in Turkey, suspected among others of links to the attack on a Catholic church in Istanbul at the end of January.

The news of the indictment of at least 12 people presumably linked to the Islamic State Khorasan Province, better known as Isis-K, part of a larger network responsible for terrorist activities in the area has just arrived.

The suspects would be responsible for managing a local cell based in Başakşehir, a district in the European part of the metropolis, and were organizing a series of attacks: the Turkish Parliament, some military barracks and police stations were targeted.

The indictment of the suspects is the result of a long investigation underway for some time into the activities of Isis-K in Turkey, which also involved the attack on the Franciscan parish of Santa Maria in Istanbul, in which one person died.

The toll was contained only by the fact that the weapons used by the attackers jammed when they opened fire, averting what could have turned into a massacre due to an attack with a clear confessional origin as reported to AsiaNews by Catholic leaders..

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launched the investigation based on information gathered by the police. The suspects, six of whom are currently in pre-trial detention in prison, are accused of having received instructions from Isis-K leaders to carry out attacks on institutional offices, including Parliament, and on law enforcement and army headquarters.

The center under investigation, called “Darul Vefa İlim ve Amel Merkezi”, would have been a clearinghouse for Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Caucasian members of Isis-K. These elements maintained close ties with representatives of the Islamic State in Syria and Afghanistan and planned to send recruits from Turkey to join the ranks of militants active in Khorasan province.

The centre, which was guarded by security units, allegedly worked to infiltrate its elements or associates into various mosques, and then gathered in the center for special occasions or planning meetings. Inside the structure there were also dormitories that hosted elements from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Caucasus, Iraq and Egypt and who had previously operated on behalf of the Islamic State in Syria. Furthermore, the center provided education to approximately 70 children aged 16 and 17, whose parents had been killed in Syria.

The investigation also emerged that, in June last year, at least nine members of a local cell met in Istanbul to plan attacks on Parliament and other strategic institutional locations, following the directives given by ISIS leaders in Syria.

Furthermore, the suspect Fuad Rasulov, identified by the nom de guerre “Fuad Azeri”, allegedly provided ammunition and explosive components for the attacks, while others were in charge of raising funds to support the fight.

He was arrested during an operation by security departments on 20 June 2022, then released on probation, and is accused of having spread propaganda for ISIS, having recruited members from Tajikistan and having participated in conflict zones in Syria in jihadist movement.

The center in Istanbul, raided on July 14 last year, included classrooms, dormitories and a mosque. Its associated social media accounts, which posted in Russian, announced new class registrations, iftar events and requests for financial help for the holidays.

This indictment provides detailed insight into ISIS-K's extensive network and activities in Turkey, highlighting the ongoing threat posed by the terrorist group and the efforts of Turkish authorities to counter its operations. Moreover, the recent attack on the Catholic church underlines the group's ability to carry out violent acts in the area.

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