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article imageTurkish police foil al-Qaeda plot in Istanbul Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Mar 2, 2013 in World
Istanbul - On February 27, Turkish police arrested 11 al-Qaeda members who were planning to attack the U.S. Consulate, a church, and a synagogue in Istanbul.
In a counter-terrorism operation carried out on Wednesday, February 27, Turkish police arrested 11 members of al-Qaeda who were planning terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate, a church, and a synagogue in Istanbul.
Police in Tekirdağ had been tracking one suspected al-Qaeda member for two years. During this time police discovered that a group of al-Qaeda members had cell houses in the Çorlu district of Tekirdağ and the Büyülçekmece district of İstanbul.
An operation last week was launched against the al-Qaeda group after Tekirdağ police found out that the suspects had obtained a large amount of explosives in mid-February. On February 27, police raided nine houses in Çorlu and two houses in Büyükçekmece. Eleven people were captured along with 22 kilograms of A4 explosives, five handguns, five rifles, and maps showing the detailed locations of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul as well as a church and a synagogue in İstanbul's Fatih district.
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul was attacked by terrorists in 2008. Three Turkish police who were guarding the consulate died. On February 1 of this year, a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. The bomber was a member of the leftist group The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). One Turkish guard, Mustafa Akarsu, was killed as he bravely tried to block the bomber from getting past a security checkpoint.
After Wednesday's arrests of the 11 al-Qaeda members, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a warning for all Americans in Turkey to be more aware of their personal safety. In the warning, the embassy denied claims that the arrested terrorists had actual plans to attack specific sites in Istanbul.
One Turkish man I interviewed, who has worked as a security guard in the past, said,
"Americans, especially women, who live in Turkey should be careful. Always be aware of your surroundings. Sarai Sierra, that American tourist who was killed in Istanbul, was attacked while walking alone in a remote place. Stay with small groups of people in public places. Don't walk alone, especially at night. Avoid crowds, for even peaceful protests can suddenly turn violent, and Americans can be targets."
Reporter's Note: I have visited the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. I stood at the very spot which was bombed two months later. I also visited the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, which is built like a castle on a hill. As an American living in Turkey, I plan to take my own personal security more seriously after these recent events. I also think it's interesting that this happened just before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's first visit to Turkey.
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul stands like a castle upon a hill
The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul stands like a castle upon a hill
More about Turkey, Istanbul, us consulate, undercover operation, Alqaeda
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