Saturday 19 August 2017

Belgian man arrested in Turkey on suspicion of scouting target sites for IS Paris attacks

The 26-year old Belgian citizen Ahmet Dahmani is escorted by a plain clothes police officer on November 20, 2015 in Antalya. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The 26-year old Belgian citizen Ahmet Dahmani is escorted by a plain clothes police officer on November 20, 2015 in Antalya. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
People light candles in front of the Cosa Nostra restaurant honouring victims of the deadliest attacks on France in decades (AP)

Turkish police have arrested a Belgian man of Moroccan origin on suspicion he scouted out the target sites for Islamic State in attacks that killed 129 people in Paris a week ago, a Turkish government official said on Saturday.

The official, confirming a report by the Dogan news agency, said two other men were also arrested, without giving details.

The Belgian, Ahmet Dahmani, was arrested at a luxury hotel in the southern coastal city of Antalya. Dogan said the 26-year-old had been staying in a five-star hotel in the popular tourist destination since Nov. 16.

Dogan said the two other men, both Syrian citizens, were detained on a nearby highway on suspicion they had been sent by Islamic State in Syria to ensure Dahmani's safe passage across the border and were planning to meet him.

Dogan, citing court sources, identified the two men as 29-year-old Ahmet Tahir and 23-year-old Muhammed Verdi.

Counter-terrorism police first became aware of Dahmani when he arrived on a flight to Antalya and tracked him to the hotel in the Manavgat district of the city, Dogan said.

Separately, Turkey deported a group of Moroccans detained at Istanbul's main airport this week over suspected links to Islamic State.

The eight, who said they had arrived at Ataturk airport on Tuesday night from Casablanca for a holiday, were detained by border police and questioned by profiling experts who flagged them as suspected militants, a government official said.

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