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Jailed ISIS leader confesses plans to assassinate opposition politicians: report

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A senior member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL) has confessed plans to assassinate main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and CHP İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in addition to attacks targeting LGBTI+ people, Alevis and tourists in Turkey, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

Alleged Turkey leader of ISIL Kasım Güler, codenamed Abu Usame al Turki, was captured in Syria in an operation by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on June 15, 2021 and arrested by a court on June 21.

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, local media reports said.

Güler’s confession was included in a case brought by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on charges that include “violation of the constitution,” “possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission” and “contravening Law No. 6136 on Firearms, Knives, and the other weapons,” DW said.

According to Güler, Nusret Yılmaz, who was involved in a suicide bomb attack in Ankara in 2015, planned to murder Kılıçdaroğlu during the “March of Justice” launched by the CHP leader to protest the arrest of a party deputy in 2017.

However, the plan failed after ISIL members preparing to carry out the attack were captured in Kayseri.

On Oct. 10, 2015 two ISIL suicide bombers attacked a peaceful demonstration in front of the Ankara train station, killing 109 and wounding 500 others.

Güler also said the terrorist organization had plans to murder İmamoğlu in 2020, but they couldn’t since media reports covered alleged preparations for the assassination of İmamoğlu, prompting İstanbul police to increase his security detail.

DW further quoted Güler as saying that Yılmaz was ordered to carry out an attack on İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana, used by the US Air Force and other NATO forces, in 2017.

However, the plan failed after five members of the organization were captured by Turkish police with explosives and guns on them in the border province of Hatay soon after illegally entering Turkey from Syria.

According to Güler, ISIL was also planning to attack a cemevi, a place of worship for Alevis, in Ankara in 2017, but the members ordered to carry out the attack were unable to do so.

Another failed ISIL plan was to attack balloons used for hot air ballooning mostly by tourists in Cappadocia, Nevşehir province. The plan fell apart after two ISIL members preparing for the attack were captured with firearms, DW said.

Güler also said that in late 2018 an ISIL member codenamed “Utbe from Van” was sent to İzmir to carry out an attack targeting LGBTI+ people but couldn’t do it since the terrorist organization failed to provide him with explosives for nearly seven months. Güler then ordered him to go back to his hometown of Konya, DW said.

It was ISIL that perpetrated the 2015 Ankara bombings, the 2014 Suruç bombings, the 2016 Antep bombing and the 2017 nightclub shooting in İstanbul, Güler further said.

Thirty-three people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when an ISIL suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Amara Culture Center in Suruç on July 20, 2015.

A suicide bombing carried out by a teenager that targeted a Kurdish wedding party in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, killed 51 people and injured 69 others.

On Jan. 1, 2017 an assailant shot his way into İstanbul’s Reina nightclub where hundreds were partying, claiming the lives of 39 people, the majority of them foreign nationals, and wounding 69 others. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, while assailant Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, was arrested 15 days later.

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