Turkey detains 49 ISIS suspects in showcase operation ahead of Sunday vote
Turkish police have detained 49 alleged Daesh members who reportedly were planning a “sensational” terror attack ahead of Sunday’s referendum on governance model.
A total of 49 people have been detained in Turkey after a large-scale police operation, according a report by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
According to the report, simultaneous operations have been conducted in several districts of Istanbul. The police seized three handguns, two of them reportedly capable of only firing blanks, plus three cartridges, 16 rounds of ammunition, a radio, a machete, six electronic point-of-sale terminals, a large number of bank cards, military camouflage gear and around $341,000-worth in cash in three different currencies.
Forty-one of the 49 detained are reported to be foreigners.
The police says the detained suspects planned to conduct “sensational attacks” during the Sunday referendum on ammending the country’s constitution and system of government and “create chaos” in the country, according to the report by Gulf News.
More than 55 million Turkish citizens will vote Sunday on proposed constitutional amendments, including a major increase in the powers of the presidency, currently held by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, effectively turning the republic from parliamentary to presidential.
Earlier this month, the Daesh terror group called for attacks against the Turkish referendum in its Arabic and Turkish publications, claiming that voting is opposing God and branding voters of Muslim faith as “disbelievers,” according to the Arab News.
Ironically, the opponents of the referendum fear that a more powerful Erdogan will impose a heavier religious influence on Turkish life, and endanger the secular foundation laid by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk early in 20th century.