Turkey’s interior minister has identified a key Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suspect captured by the country’s forces in Syria as the alleged mastermind behind attacks in Russia and Germany, The Associated Press reported, citing a local newspaper report on Friday.
Turkey had announced last week that it detained an “important” ISIL figure but did not name him. In an interview published in the Hürriyet newspaper, Süleyman Soylu identified the man as Yusuf Huba, describing him as a high-ranking ISIL member. Soylu said the man allegedly planned and ordered a bomb attack in Russia in 2018 as well as an attack on a supermarket in Germany.
Turkey has been highlighting what it says is its fight against ISIL in the face of accusations that the Turkish military offensive last month to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters from northeast Syria would allow for a resurgence of the militant Islamic group.
The interior minister said the suspect is also known as Abu Jihad al-Din al-Nasır Ubeyde and is being held and questioned in Syria, in an area controlled by Turkey.
“We have captured a very senior ISIL member who is known as a bomber, bomb-maker and mastermind of suicide bomb attacks,” he told Hürriyet.
It was not clear which attack in Russia in 2018 the minister was referring to. In a 2017 attack in the northern German port city of Hamburg, a 26-year-old Palestinian man killed one person and wounded six others in a stabbing spree at a supermarket.
Ankara has said it captured and detained several members from slain ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s “close circle,” including one of his wives, his sister and a daughter.
Baghdadi blew himself up during an Oct. 26 raid by US special forces on his heavily fortified safe house in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Since its military incursion into Syria, Turkey has also been deporting foreign ISIL members who are held in Turkish prisons or in Syria to their home countries. ISIL suspects from the United States, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have been repatriated in the past two weeks. Turkey also plans to soon deport an Irish woman and her child as well as 11 French nationals.