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20 sought for alleged ISIL membership due to magazine activities

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The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued arrest warrants for 20 people linked to the Tevhid magazine, a monthly publication accused of spreading the ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Turkey, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

According to officials, the suspects are sought over the activities of the magazine, run by Halis Bayancuk, accused of being the leader of ISIL in Turkey.

Bayancuk denies the accusation.

In February 2021 Bayancuk, also known by the name of Abu Hanzala, was handed down a prison sentence of 12-and-a-half years by an İstanbul court on charges of “establishing and leading an armed terrorist group.” He had been behind bars since his detention in May 2017.

The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned Bayancuk’s conviction on December 28, 2022 and ordered a retrial, which led to his release in July 2023.

Since 2009 Bayancuk has been detained at least a half-dozen times in Turkey, only to be released because of a lack of evidence or problems involving the charges against him.

He and his wife were arrested after police raided their home and seized a number of ISIL-linked documents in 2015. He was released in March 2016.

Bayancuk is involved in the management of various media outlets, including the Tevhid magazine, the Tevhid bookstore, the tevhiddersleri.org and tevhidgundemi.com websites, and the Halis Bayancuk Hoca YouTube channel, which has nearly 400,000 subscribers.

The police have launched operations to detain the suspects.

Turkey has been the target of numerous attacks carried out by ISIL, including suicide bombings and attacks that have left over 300 people dead and many injured since 2013, when ISIL was officially classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

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