Turkish authorities have detained a Russian national suspected to be a member of the Islamic State (IS) group and accused of planning to attack a US base in southern Turkey, a report said on Thursday. Dogan news agency said Renat Bakiev is accused of seeking to “stage a bomb attack aiming to bring down a US plane using a drone” at Incirlik airbase. He is suspected of carrying out reconnaissance work for the plot, the report said, without giving further details.
The United States uses Incirlik, in Adana province, as a key base for operations against the IS jihadist group in neighbouring Syria. Bakiev also carried 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 said.
Bakiev was detained in Adana, it said. A court will rule on whether he should be remanded in custody. 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.