ANKARA, Turkey - Police launched a nationwide crackdown on suspected militants linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network yesterday, rounding up 120 people in simultaneous predawn raids, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
It was not clear whether yesterday’s raids in 16 provinces in Turkey, a member of NATO and an ally of the West, would amount to a major blow to home-grown Islamic militants.
Yeni Safak newspaper reported this week that Turkish police had recently seized video recordings of alleged Turkish Al Qaeda militants in Taliban camps in Afghanistan, as well as alleged plans for attacks on Turkish soldiers in Kabul and on police in Turkey.
Turkey, NATO’s sole Muslim member, took over the rotating command of the NATO peacekeeping operation in Kabul in November and doubled its number of troops to about 1,750.
Yesterday’s crackdown follows another raid on suspected militants in Ankara and Adana last week in which police rounded up and interrogated about 40 people and reportedly seized documents detailing Al Qaeda activities. Twenty-five of them were charged with membership in a terrorist organization.