Turkey has detained and arrested three alleged members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Central Anatolia, one of whom used to serve as a special operations police officer, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
The operation took place in the central province of Konya, where several locations were raided by the police based on information provided by another ISIL member who was detained last year and turned informant in order to benefit from the effective repentance law.
One of the three suspects who were were detained and arrested, a former Turkish special operations police identified only by the initials B.S., is reportedly ISIL’s so-called provincial “emir” for Konya.
This is not the first case of a Turkish law enforcement officer being revealed to have been involved with radical groups. In December 2016 Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was assassinated by an off-duty policeman shouting al-Nusra Front slogans.
The gunman, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, also shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo!” as he opened fire, presumably referring to Russia’s involvement in Syria. He was then shot dead by police at the scene.
On Friday one of the suspects on trial for involvement in Karlov’s murder, another police officer who was friends with the assassin, confirmed his connections with an Islamic sect based in Turkey while denying having any links to the faith-based Gülen movement which is accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of being behind the assassination, a charge denied by the cleric.
Erdoğan also blamed the preacher’s network for an attempted coup in June 2016 which was later used as a pretext for the Turkish government to dismiss tens of thousands of police officers over their links to the movement.