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Turkey: at least 147 arrests linked to Islamic State and Moscow attack



No fewer than 147 people suspected of belonging to the jihadist group Islamic State (EI) have been arrested in Turkey. The Turkish Minister of the Interior, Ali Yerlikaya, announced this on Tuesday, March 26. The suspects were arrested in thirty of the country’s 81 provinces, the minister said in a message posted on social networking site X.

Forty people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State group were arrested on Sunday, March 24, in eight of the country’s provinces, according to the authorities. Since June 1, 2023, a total of 2,919 people suspected of links with the jihadist group have been arrested in the country, the Interior Minister said.

A Turkish security source said on Tuesday that two of the suspects arrested for their involvement in the attack in Moscow on Friday March 22, which was claimed by the Islamic State, had spent several weeks on Turkish soil before flying back to Russia on March 2.

“The two individuals were free to move unhindered between Russia and Turkey in the absence of an arrest warrant for them”, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that “these two individuals were radicalized in Russia given their short stay in Turkey”.

Authorities have established that the man in question was Shamsidin Fariduni, who entered Turkey on February 20 and left for Russia on March 2 from Istanbul airport after a stay in a hotel in the megalopolis’s Fatih district, the same source continued. The source said the man had left his hotel on February 27 and posted a message “eight times on social media on February 23 from the Aksaray district”, in the same Fatih district.

The other suspect, according to this official, is Saidakram Rajabalizoda: arriving in Istanbul on January 5, he immediately checked into a hotel in Fatih, which he left on January 21. “He then left for Moscow on March 2 on the same flight as Shamsidin Fariduni,” said the security source. “We believe that these two individuals were radicalized in Russia given their short stay in Turkey,” insisted the official.

These reports raise suspicions that the Moscow bombing was not something improvised, but an event prepared with time and not in Russia, but with foreign contacts.

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