Bedros Şirinoğlu, chairman of the Armenian Foundations Union and Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation, has warned Armenian community leaders against the possible assassination of spiritual leaders in Turkey by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Halk TV news website reported on Wednesday.
According to Halk TV, Şirinoğlu asked Armenian community leaders in a group text to refrain from participating in public demonstrations and cultural activities for two to three months as a precaution since he heard rumors that three ISIL militants with military training have entered Turkey with the aim of assassinating spiritual or civilian leaders.
“I’m canceling our meeting on February 6. I recommend that you do not engage in any association activities until [the ISIL militants] are caught,” Şirinoğlu added.
Speaking to Halk TV about this text message, Şirinoğlu said his warning got out although he asked the community leaders to find other excuses to cancel or postpone activities so as to prevent people from panicking.
He added that he isn’t nervous about the issue since the police increased his protection and informed his bodyguards of the security threat.
Halk TV said that when they asked the İstanbul Police Department about Şirinoğlu’s claims regarding the ISIL militants, the authorities told them they hadn’t received any information regarding a possible attack targeting civilian leaders in Turkey.
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 carried out by ISIL in the country.