ISTANBUL (AP) — Two men suspected of planning Islamic State group attacks in Europe were arrested in Turkey following 10 days of being interrogated by police, Turkey’s state-run agency reported Saturday.
Mahamad Laban, 45, a Danish citizen, and Mohammed Tefik Saleh, 38, a Swedish citizen, received weapons and explosives training in Syria for the past three months, the Anadolu Agency said. Pictures published by Anadolu show Laban and others in trenches covered with sandbags. In several pictures, Laban is seen wearing camouflage gear and holding a machine gun. Anadolu did not provide details on the arrests but said Saleh’s wife had informed Swedish authorities that he had crossed from Turkey to Syria and joined IS in 2014, along with his two daughters. The agency says the wife didn’t go to Syria and returned to Sweden.
The agency said the two men entered Turkey using fake identification with the intention of going to European countries.
In January, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said more than 52,000 people from 145 countries were on a no-entry list and some 4,000 people have been deported. Nearly 750 people with alleged IS links were detained in a major police sweep in 29 Turkish provinces last week. Turkey has been hit by a string of attacks by IS, most recently on New Year’s Eve in an Istanbul nightclub that left 39 people dead. The gunman, Abdulkadir Masharipov, was caught on Jan. 16 and formally arrested Saturday. With coalition-backed Iraqi forces fighting IS in Mosul and Syrian Democratic Forces closing in on Raqqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate, fears have increased that IS fighters leaving Iraq and Syria may carry out attacks elsewhere.
In its 2017 terror threat assessment, Denmark’s intelligence agency – known by its acronym PET – pointed to an “increased terror threat against Denmark” with foreign fighters potentially heading home.
Jan M. Olsen contributed from Copenhagen, Denmark.
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