Three Suspects Linked To Paris Attacks Arrested In Antalya, Turkey With Alleged Ties To ISIS
As Belgium's capital went on lockdown after reports of an imminent terrorist attack, three suspects were arrested in connection with last week's Paris attacks in Antalya, Turkey. One of the men allegedly scouted sites for the attack on the City of Lights before the 10th and 11th arrondissements were attacked last week, killing 129 people and injuring hundreds of others.
Ahmet Dahmani, a 26-year-old Belgian national of Moroccan descent, was allegedly on the ground in Paris looking for possible attack points. Dahmani was arrested in the popular Turkish resort city of Antalya in a sting operation, according to Turkish officials.
“We believe that Dahmani was in contact with the terrorists who perpetrated the Paris attacks,” an official told The Wall Street Journal. “The investigation continues.”
Two other suspects, 29-year-old Ahmet Tahir and 23-year-old Mohammed Verd, had allegedly gone to Antalya to help Dahmani pass back into ISIS-controlled territory across Turkey's southern border. Both Tahir and Verd are Syrian nationals. According to The Wall Street Journal, the men are being held because of their ISIS connection.
The Guardian reported that counter-terrorism efforts noted Dahmani's presence when he arrived in Antalya's airport from Amsterdam and tracked him to a boutique hotel in the city's Manavgat district. Separately, Turkey deported a group of eight Moroccans from Istanbul's airport this week after they were suspected of having ties to ISIS.
Officials in Turkey say that Dahmani was able to enter the country because they were not notified to watch for him. He entered Turkey the day after the terror attacks in Paris.
"Had the Belgian authorities alerted us in due time, Dahmani could have been apprehended at the airport," the official told CNN's Turkish affiliate. "We urge our allies to continue sharing information with us."
Antalya has been hosting the Group of 20 summit this week, which brought world leaders to the Mediterranean city. But so far it doesn't seem like the event was a target for attack.
The news of the arrests comes as the capital of Dahmani's home country, Brussels, is on lockdown after officials reported threats of a Paris-style attack. The capital has been raised to a level four terrorist threat, which means "imminent and close by." The rest of the country was raised to level three.
Public transportation in Brussels has been shut down, and sporting events have been canceled. A spokesperson with the government's crisis center issued this statement to residents:
The advice for the population is to avoid places where a lot of people come together like shopping centres, concerts, events or public transport stations wherever possible.