The alleged Turkey leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been captured in Syria in an operation by Turkish intelligence, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Kasım Güler, codenamed Ebu Usame el Türki, who is accused of being the Turkey leader of ISIL, was taken by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to Turkey for interrogation, the report said, noting that the operation came one day after the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Joe Biden on Monday during the NATO summit in Brussels.
MİT launched the operation upon receiving information that Güler was planning to carry out an attack in Turkey after illegally crossing the border with Syria, the report said.
Reportedly the first ISIL member caught on an INTERPOL Red Notice, Güler was said to be carrying ISIL documents and secret information with him when apprehended.
Güler had been to Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2008 and 2010 before joining ISIL in 2014 and rising through the ranks to the position of financial executive for Russia, Europe and Turkey, according to the report.
Güler’s capture came shortly after the meeting between Erdoğan and Biden, which was advertised by pro-government media outlets as the start of a new era in Turkish-US relations.
The Biden administration is known for its strong stance against ISIL and is determined to act against the sources of financing for terrorism.
A report by the US Department of Defense had said Turkey is still a transit country for logistics, finance and weapons for ISIL despite the country’s efforts to step up the crackdown on the terrorist organization. The 136-page report, submitted to the US Congress, included the claim, based on remarks from the US European Command, that Turkey is still used as a base by ISIL, particularly for money transfers.
The US Treasury last month announced sanctions against certain individuals and businesses, including those in Turkey, over links to ISIL. Blacklisted individuals and firms were accused of playing a critical role in connecting ISIL to an international network of donors and facilitating access by the terrorist organization to the financial system in the Middle East, the report said.
Turkey declared ISIL a terrorist organization in 2013 and has been attacked by the jihadist group multiple times since then. A total of 315 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb blasts and four armed attacks organized by ISIL in the country.