Turkey detains Russian ‘planning drone attack on US warplane’
Turkish authorities on Thursday detained a Russian suspected member of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group for allegedly plotting a drone attack on an American warplane at a US base in southern Turkey.
State-run Anadolu news agency said that Renat Bakiev is accused of seeking to stage an attack at “the Incirlik airbase or a plane stationed there”.
Quoting local police, it said that “for this purpose, he worked to obtain a drone”.
Dogan news agency added that Bakiev is suspected of seeking to “stage a bomb attack aiming to bring down a US plane using a drone” at the Incirlik airbase.
He allegedly carried out reconnaissance work for the plot, both reports said, without giving further details on how the plan would have been put in place.
Anadolu further reported the suspect had asked fellow IS members through the Telegram messaging app for 2,800 lira ($790) in order to buy the drone.
The Russian embassy in Ankara said in a statement it was “carrying out the necessary work to understand what happened and make clear the circumstances”
The United States uses Incirlik, in Adana province, as a key base for air strikes against the IS jihadists in neighbouring Syria.
Bakiev also is suspected of carrying out preparations for a plot to attack a centre of the Alevi religious minority — an offshoot of the Shia sect of Islam — in Adana city, Dogan reported.
Bakiev was detained in Adana, it said. A court later remanded him in custody ahead of trial.
Anadolu also reported claims that Bakiev had been to Syria to fight with IS and had sought to stage an attack against American forces there, but without success.
Images showed the suspect — clean shaven and wearing an orange T-shirt — being led to a medical check by two Turkish policemen after his arrest.
Turkey was hit in 2016 by a succession of attacks that left hundreds dead in the bloodiest year of terror strikes in its history.
The attacks were blamed on IS jihadists who had taken swathes of territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who have battled the Turkish state in an over three-decade insurgency.
Thirty-nine people were killed, mainly foreigners in a gun attack by an jihadist gunman on an elite nightclub in Istanbul just 75 minutes into New Year’s Day in 2017.
There has since been a lull in similar attacks, but tension and high security remain in big cities.
Turkish security forces have frequently detained Russians — especially residents of the mainly Muslim northern Caucasus — in raids against IS suspects in Istanbul.
Several Russians have been arrested over the triple suicide bombing and gun attack on Istanbul’s main international airport in June last year blamed on IS. The trial is due to get start on November 13.