Intelligence reveals Daesh threats to Jewish school and synagogue in Turkey

Published March 29th, 2016 - 09:41 GMT
Turkish special police officers patrol in the street on August 10, 2015 in Istanbul. (AFP/File)
Turkish special police officers patrol in the street on August 10, 2015 in Istanbul. (AFP/File)

Daesh are planning an imminent attack on Jewish kindergartens, schools and youth centers in Turkey, according to a report by Britain-based Sky News Monday.

The report came hours after Jerusalem issued an alert for all Israeli citizens to leave Turkey as soon as possible, citing an Islamic State threat, and nine days after three Israelis were killed in a bombing in Istanbul.

According to Sky News, citing an "intelligence source," extremists are plotting to attack a synagogue which also doubles as a school and community center in the Beyoglu neighborhood of Istanbul.

The source said the threat was imminent and could happen at any moment.

"This is a more than credible threat. This is an active plot," the source said. "We don't know when it's scheduled for. It could be in the next 24 hours or next few days."

The report was likely referring to the Neve Shalom synagogue, Istanbul's largest, serving many of the country's estimated 17,000 Jews.

The synagogue has been the site of two previous deadly attacks: a 1986 shooting and a 2003 bombing.

The source said the intelligence was related to the capture of a group of Daesh operatives, including a suicide bomber, in Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, last week, and added that security was being beefed up along with increased anti-terror measures.

On Saturday, Turkish police warned of possible Islamic State attacks against Christians and Jews over the weekend.

The police issued a nationwide alert warning of possible attacks targeting churches during Easter on Sunday, as well as synagogues, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Israeli officials followed up that warning Monday by raising the terror risk in Turkey from level 3 (basic concrete threat) to level 2 (high concrete threat).

The Prime Minister's Office cited a March 19 attack in central Istanbul in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded.

That attack, the PMO said in a statement, underscored the threat emanating from Daesh cells that seek to attack tourism sites and proved that Daesh has "high capabilities of carrying out further attacks."

"[Militant] infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets – including Israeli tourists – throughout the country," the statement added.

Israelis in Turkey should "leave as soon as possible," it said.

Despite chilly ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, Turkey remains a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Daesh has been blamed for four of six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a double suicide attack at a peace rally in the capital, Ankara, in October that left 103 people dead.

A radical offshoot of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed the other two attacks.

The police have warned that Daesh group members may have scouted out places of worship as well as consulates and embassies, saying that churches and synagogues especially in Ankara, as well as foundations belonging to non-Muslims, should be on their guard.

Israel has not stated definitively whether last Saturday's blast had deliberately targeted Israelis. It has praised Turkey for its handling of the aftermath of the bombing.

© 2019 The Times of Israel. All rights reserved.

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