News24

Suspected al-Qaeda members held in Turkey

2011-04-12 18:22

Istanbul - Turkish police detained at least 40 suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation and the Turkish Hezbollah in dozens of co-ordinated police raids in Istanbul on Tuesday, local media reported.

Halis Bayancuk, considered one of the ringleaders of al-Qaeda in Turkey, was among those detained.

He had already been detained in 2008 over alleged links to al-Qaeda but was released a year later, state television channel TRT reported.

Al-Qaeda members in Turkey were behind a series of bombings in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed 57 people and injured hundreds.

Six Turks and a Syrian were sentenced to life in prison for organising the attacks, which targeted synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank.

Some of those detained in Tuesday's raids were reported to also have ties to the Turkish Hezbollah, which has no connections to the Lebanese Shi'ite group of the same name.

Turkey's Hezbollah emerged in the 1980s as a militant group that primarily targeted sympathisers of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The group, which carried out torture and murdered scores of people, was disbanded after many of its leaders were arrested in 2000.