The National Police Department has issued a warning to all 81 provinces of Turkey to be on guard against potential attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terrorist group.
According to a report in the Milliyet daily on Wednesday, the National Police Department warned all the police departments in the country that an al-Shabaab member codenamed “Bihaari” may have been assigned to carry out bomb attacks in Turkey. The police stated that Bihaari has been to İstanbul in the past with the help of Hussein Abdilaziz Abdiriza, an official from the Somali government. Bihaari is said to be in Syria currently and has plans to move to Turkey, the police reportedly said.
The police statement also exposed other potential suspects who might participate in terrorist attacks in Turkey. An al-Shabaab member identified only as D.X., who was trained by the group to prepare explosives, is currently studying in Turkey, the police said. Another potential al-Shabaab member believed to be involved in planning a possible attack in Turkey is Ahmed Ibraahim Barlex, who also was educated in Turkey, according to the report.
On Jan. 22 al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bomb that was detonated in front of a hotel in Mogadishu, where a Turkish delegation was meeting a day before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was to arrive. Following the January attack, the spokesperson for al-Shabaab, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Raage, named Turkey as one of its targets.
“NATO is the biggest enemy of Muslims and Turkey is a part of it. NATO is a union of Christians. NATO uses Turkey as a hammer to smash Muslims,” said Raage.
The bomb attack outside the hotel killed two police officers. Erdoğan did not cancel his trip to Somalia and denounced the attack.
“They do it in the name of Islam, but I am a Muslim as well. There is no such thing in Islam. A Muslim, first of all, cannot commit suicide. To go and kill people, you cannot do such thing in our religion,” Erdoğan told reporters before departing to Mogadishu on Jan. 22.