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Alleged head of ISIL in Turkey detained in İstanbul

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Halis Bayancuk, also known as Abu Hanzala, the alleged Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader in Turkey, was detained in İstanbul on Tuesday.

Bayancuk was detained as part of an investigation conducted by the Sakarya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office targeting ISIL.

Bayancuk had previously been detained several times and released pending trial over his alleged ties to Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIL.

On March 25 of last year Bayancuk was among seven ISIL suspects who were released pending trial by an İstanbul court.

The suspects were released by the court considering “the state of the evidence against them and time already served in prison.” The court imposed a travel ban on the suspects.

Bayuncuk was detained in İstanbul with his wife in July 2015 and later arrested with several other suspected ISIL members.

Bayuncuk led an Eid prayer on July 2015 in İstanbul where he criticized the Turkish government and made a call for a “holy war.” The media reported that a group of ISIL militants — allegedly consisting of 1,000 members — gathered at a picnic site in İstanbul’s Ömerli neighborhood to perform the prayers signaling the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

Bayuncuk was also detained on Jan. 14, 2014, along with dozens of others during anti-terrorism raids on al-Qaeda cells by the police and gendarmerie units in six provinces across Turkey. He was later arrested. However, he was released in the eastern city of Van in October 2014 by a controversial court order after Turkey’s government removed the police chiefs who ordered the raids from office.

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