Turkish police say top ISIL figure captured in operation

A close aide of killed ISIL (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been caught in Istanbul.a person on a court: Turkey sporadically carries out raids and detains suspected ISIL members within its borders [File: Reuters]

The Afghan national, only identified by the codename ASIM, was detained in the Atasehir district on the city’s Asian side on Wednesday, an Istanbul police statement said.

News reports of the joint operation carried out by Istanbul police and Turkey’s intelligence agency said the suspect had been involved in helping hide al-Baghdadi in Syria’s Idlib province after the fall of the group in 2019.

Al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid on his Syrian hideout by American special forces in October 2019.

Turkish media published a photograph of a balding, bearded man in a light coat following the arrest and an earlier image, purportedly of the same person, showing a long-haired, heavily bearded man in military fatigues wielding a curved sword.

State-run Anadolu news agency said ASIM was suspected of organising training for ISIL while in Syria and Iraq, as well as serving on its decision-making council.

He arrived in Turkey with a false passport and identity card, Turkish media said.

Turkey sporadically carries out raids and detains suspected ISIL members within its borders.

ISIL has carried out various attacks across Turkey, including on a nightclub in Istanbul on January 1, 2017, in which 39 people were killed, and a bombing in the city’s historic heart that killed 12 in 2016.

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