Al Qaeda leader in Turkey captured


Abu Zar, the leader of al Qaeda in Turkey, in a photograph taken in Afghanistan. The photograph is from a jihadist website.

Turkish security forces recently detained al Qaeda’s top leader in the country during raids that have netted more than 150 suspected operatives.

Police arrested Abu Zar, who is also known as Serdar Elbasa, and 30 other operatives during a raid in the city of Adana on Jan. 18. The raids led to intelligence that allowed police to detain an additional 120 people suspected of having ties to al Qaeda, during sweeps in 16 of Turkey’s provinces over the past 24 hours.

As the leader of al Qaeda’s wing in Turkey, Abu Zar focused on providing support to al Qaeda affiliates operating in Chechnya and Afghanistan, according to Zaman, a Turkish newspaper. Abu Zar recruited fighters in Turkey and dispatched them to the Caucasus to fight the Russians, and to Afghanistan to battle NATO forces. Several of the al Qaeda fighters captured on Jan. 18 admitted to having received training in camps in Afghanistan.

Abu Zar has also personally spent time fighting in both Afghanistan and Chechnya. Photographs of Abu Zar in Afghanistan have appeared on several jihadist websites. In addition, he recruited Chechens and Azeris to serve with him in Afghanistan. According to Zaman, police discovered that Abu Zar also fought in Chechnya in 2007 and was tasked by Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucusus Emirate, to raise money to support the jihad there.

At the time of his capture, Abu Zar was plotting to attack the Turkish forces serving in Afghanistan as well as Turkish police at home, according to documents seized by police during a raid on Jan. 15. Police also discovered supplies that had been gathered to be sent to Afghanistan. Turkey currently has 1,755 troops operating in the Kabul region.

For the past six years, al Qaeda in Turkey has been under intense pressure by Turkish security forces. Periodic sweeps net dozens of suspected fighters and supporters. The group’s last major attacks took place in November 2003. On Nov. 15, 2003, two suicide truck bombs hit the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues in Istanbul, killing 21 Muslims and six Jews. Five days later, suicide truck bombs slammed into the HSBC Bank AS and the British Consulate in Istanbul, killing 30 people, including the top British diplomat in Turkey.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • ArneFufkin says:

    It never fails to strike me how evil these men appear. There is nothing but hatred and violence in their eyes and facial countenance. They need to be removed from civilized humanity.

  • Tyler says:

    Dude looks like Fu Manchu. Yeesh.

  • Bungo says:

    He probably had an unhappy childhood. (He reminds me of Jack Palance in those old Westerns)

  • Bulls Eye! says:

    “Dude looks like Fu Manchu. Yeesh.” OR “Jack Palance”…
    That’s a great perception! Hahaha..
    I guess evil eventually deadens the heart, coz he certainly didn’t have one…

  • Bob says:

    He looks like Smeagol for Lord of the Rings to me.

  • Bulls Eye! says:

    Smeagol – hahahahaha

  • Abu Zubayr says:

    “It never fails to strike me how evil these men appear. There is nothing but hatred and violence in their eyes and facial countenance. They need to be removed from civilized humanity. ”
    The people here pick pictures like that on purpose…You havent noticed.
    I could get a picture of him smiling but that wouldnt work.
    Im sure you look pretty evil too sometimes.
    Evil is in the heart, not upon your face.

  • Bulls Eye says:

    Abu Zubayr –
    So what brings you to this site then?
    Looking for info on latest events from “kaafir” media?
    Tut tut…you’re being a naughty pet muqalid…

  • Zeissa says:

    Once long ago the Turkish tribes fought against Islam on the borders of the noble yet increasingly decadent Christian Byzantium, home of Orthodox Christianity and Imperial Greek Glory.
    But one Turkish tribe decided to ally with the Mohammedans to gain on the other tribes. To open friendly relations they outwardly professed to adopt Islam.
    They were not allowed to leave in a most bloodletting fashion. Through this tribe all of the Turkish tribes were turned to Islam, and they went on to found an Empire on Byzantium’s corpse that would collapse under the weight of Islam, be reborn in secularism and once again… on the eve of the present… fall to Islam.
    Now the less concentric evil of Ankara fights a smaller but more concentric evil.

  • Zeissa says:

    Honestly, he doesn’t look evil to me. He looks like a hardbitten man who’s annoyed.

  • Zeissa says:

    Well, ok, he does actually look a bit evil.

  • R says:

    The photo was taken in Chechnya, not in Afghanistan


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