Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pending al-Qaeda Attack in Turkey?

Al-Qaeda Robbers Target Jewelry Stores

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 25
February 6, 2009
Category: Eurasia Daily Monitor, Turkey, Terrorism, Home Page, Featured
By: Emrullah Uslu
The recent crisis with Israel not only diverted international attention away from the looming danger of al-Qaeda attacks in Turkey but the growing sensitivity toward Israel may actually be motivating groups associated with al-Qaeda to attack Jewish targets in Turkey. In fact, because of the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack, Israel's El-Al airline recently terminated its flights to Antalya. Zaman reported that the CIA had notified Israeli and Turkish authorities that al-Qaeda operatives had entered Turkey to target Israeli tourists. According to the report, al-Qaeda may be seeking to attack airports in Istanbul, Izmir, or Antalya (Zaman, February 6).

It was said initially that El-Al had cancelled its Tel Aviv-Antalya flights because Turkey did not allow armed Israeli security forces on airplanes coming into Antalya and Israel insisted on having armed security personnel on board (IHA, February 4). Another Israeli airline, Sun D'Or, has also announced that it will cease its flights until March 1 for "commercial reasons" (CNNTurk, February 4). It seems that neither argument reflects the real reason why Israeli airlines have stopped flying to Antalya. The danger of an al-Qaeda attack on an Israeli target could perhaps be the best explanation behind the cancellation of these flights.

The Turkish National Police (TNP) has recently been conducting operations against al-Qaeda members. In December police arrested 38 al-Qaeda members, 22 of whom were jailed. That operation revealed that the organization was planning to hit the Israeli, U.S., and British consulates in Istanbul (Sabah, December 20, 2008). On January 29 four al-Qaeda members tried to rob a post office in the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul, but undercover police officers who were following the suspects intervened, and a gunfight ensued. One al-Qaeda member was killed and another wounded. Two others escaped (Sabah, January 29). In following days the police arrested 11 suspected al-Qaeda members. After the arrest it was revealed that al-Qaeda militants were organizing an attack on a rabbi in Bursa (Milliyet, February 3).
Full article is here

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