ISTANBUL: Around 3,000 people in Turkey are believed to be linked to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, a Turkish intelligence report said on Saturday, warning of possible attacks by extremists.
The report called for enhanced surveillance of the 3,000 people, including identifying their rank within the extremist group or whether they were active within it, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Saturday.
A “red alert” had also been sent to security units warning of possible attacks on the embassies of Western countries by IS jihadists following last week’s deadly Islamist attacks in France, the report said.
Security at the diplomatic missions had been increased to the maximum level, the report said, adding that NATO facilities and Western nationals were also potential targets.
And it warned of possible bomb attacks “anywhere and anytime” in Turkey by “sleeping cells.”
Most of the vehicles stolen in Turkey ended up in the hands of IS jihadists, it said, warning that they could be used in car bomb attacks in the country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said up to 700 Turkish nationals had joined the IS.
He added that Turkey had barred entry to around 7,250 people from abroad who were planning to join IS and said 1,160 would-be jihadists were also deported.
Turkey has long been accused of not doing enough to stem the flow of jihadists seeking to join the IS group which has captured large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The Turkish government said on Monday that Hayat Boumeddiene, the wanted partner of one of the gunmen involved in last week’s Paris attacks, crossed into Syria via Turkey days before the assaults, amid reports that she may have joined IS.
A female suicide bomber killed herself and a policeman last week in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, home to the city’s greatest concentration of historical monuments.
Turkish authorities have so far refrained from naming the suicide bomber but reports in Turkey and Russia on Friday identified her as Diana Ramazanova, 18, from the northern Caucasus region of Dagestan.
She was said to have been the widow of a Norwegian jihadist who died fighting for IS in Syria.
In Moscow, a senior Russian diplomat has said far more than 800 Russians are fighting alongside the Islamic State group.
Ilya Rogachev, who heads the Foreign Ministry’s department for modern challenges and threats, told Ekho Moskvy radio Friday that those who have joined the group include people from the Russian province of Chechnya and some other regions in the volatile North Caucasus.
He said precise numbers of Russians among the Islamic State fighters are hard to measure, as they include some Chechen refugees who had moved to Europe, as well as some ethnic Chechens from Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor, Georgia.
Chechnya, which has seen two devastating separatist wars, has become more stable under the steely grip of a Moscow-backed strongman, but the Islamist insurgency has engulfed other North Caucasus provinces.