Ankara: Turkish security forces have captured one of the senior executives of the Islamic State (IS) terror group, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Turkish police and intelligence captured Bashar Hattab Ghazal al Sumaidai, code-named Abu Zeyd and Master Zeyd, according to the country’s semi-official Anadolu Agency.
“International reports and the UN Security Council report also contained information that this terrorist was one of the senior executives of the IS terrorist organization. During his interrogation, there are his statements that he was a so-called ‘qadi’ in the so-called ministry of education and the ministry of justice,” Xinhua news agency quoted Erdogan as saying to reporters onboard his presidential plane while returning from Croatia.
The terrorist’s connections in Syria and Istanbul had been followed for a long time, and intelligence information was obtained that he would enter Turkey illegally, the President said.
Istanbul police found out that al Sumaidai had been using a fake identity and props to disguise himself, Erdogan said.
After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abdul-Nasser Qardash, Abu Zeyd was one of the most important leaders of the group, according to the President.
The Turkish government designated the IS as a terrorist organisation in 2013.
The IS has been accused of launching a spate of deadly attacks in Turkey since 2015.
Turkish counter-terrorism forces have been conducting operations against IS members in the country.
Turkey’s southern border with Syria has been a major crossing point for refugees and foreign fighters since the civil war started in 2011.