Turkey arrests 'Islamic State member' planning US consulate attack

A Syrian national named Mohammed Raghil al-Hardani was detained in the southern city of Kahramanmaras


Afp December 15, 2015
US consulate in Istanbul. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL: Turkey has arrested an alleged member of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group suspected of planning a suicide attack on the US consulate in Istanbul, media reported on Tuesday.

The man, a Syrian national named in the Turkish reports as Mohammed Raghil al-Hardani, was detained at the bus station in the southern city of Kahramanmaras and then remanded in custody by a local court.

Al-Hardani had been seeking to travel from Kahramanmaras to the southern city of Gaziantep to join a IS bomb-making cell, the Dogan news agency reported. He was then planning to travel from there to Istanbul to carry out the attack.

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Dogan said that police had trailed the suspect to Kahramanmaras from the northern city of Samsun.

Intelligence about the planned attack prompted the partial closure of the consulate for one day last week, the official Anatolia news agency said.

Turkey had shared the intelligence about Hardani's plans with its American counterparts. An unidentified friend detained with him was released, the reports said.

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The United States consulate in Istanbul on December 9 offered only limited services with a scaled-down staffing due to information about a possible security threat.

There were no further details on the suspected plot or any confirmation from the government.

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Istanbul is on high alert for attacks following three deadly bombings blamed on the Islamic State group in Ankara and the southeast of the country this year.

There have also been attacks on security forces by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and sporadic actions by the banned ultra-left wing group the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front.

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