Istanbul – A few hours before two major earthquakes hit Turkey on Sunday, Istanbul police arrested 15 IS militants accused of plotting to carry out attacks on synagogues and churches in the country.
In addition to synagogues and churches, the country’s official news agency, Anadolu news, reported late Saturday that the group had planned attacks on the Swedish and Dutch consulates in Istanbul.
The potential attacks are believed to have been planned in retaliation for the public burning of a Quran by far-right activist Rasmus Paludan outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm last month. A similar action was subsequently carried out in The Hague by far-right politician Edwin Wagensveld.
In a statement, Istanbul police said: “15 people were detained on the grounds that the so-called Khorasan Province leadership of Daesh (IS) ordered an action against the Swedish and Dutch consulate generals and places of worship belonging to our Christian and Jewish citizens in Istanbul,”
The police added that they could not ascertain any “concrete threats” against the locations, despite being informed by international intelligence agencies that an attack could be imminent.
The suspects arrested were allegedly linked with the Islamic State’s Khorasan wing (IS-K), named after the Khorasan region of northeast Iran and parts of Afghanistan where they primarily operate.