The US embassy in Ankara had announced Sunday that it was going to close Monday due to unspecified security threats.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
After the US embassy in Ankara reportedly shared intelligence information with their hosts, Turkish authorities detained four Islamic State (ISIS) members on Monday in connection with a threat on the embassy, according to the state-run news agency.
All four suspects are Iraqi nationals, said the Anadolu news agency. Two were captured on a bus at a security checkpoint on the highway to the Turkish capital and two were detained in the Black Sea city of Samsun.
In addition, the agency reported that police detained 12 ISIS suspects – all foreign nationals — in Ankara earlier in the day. They were also searching for eight others, although it was unclear if these arrests had any connection to the alleged plot against the US embassy.
The embassy had posted on its web page Sunday night that it would be closed due to an unnamed security threat, and recommended that American citizens in the country should heighten their awareness, avoid the embassy and large crowds, and “keep a low profile.” According to ABC News, security was noticeably tightened in the area, with police searching pedestrians before allowing them to enter the street where the embassy is located.
Even after the arrests, however, the mission put out a second statement saying that the embassy would also remain closed to the public on Tuesday as well, due to security issues.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters on Monday that “IS terrorists” had carried out 20 attacks in Turkey over the years since the civil war erupted in Syria, killing a total of 310 people and wounding 967 others. He added that 4,045 terrorists had been arrested, including 1,858 “foreign terrorist fighters” since 2011.
Although Turkey joined the Western coalition fighting ISIS in Syria, its relations with the United States have recently been strained due to American support for Syrian Kurds, whom Ankara claims are linked to Kurdish groups in Turkey seeking independence.
On Monday, however, embassy spokesman David Gainer expressed gratitude to the Turkish government. “We appreciate the continuing strong support we receive from the Turkish national police and Turkish security services in making our facilities as safe as possible,” he said.