Australian PM plays down Islamic State plot to target Anzac Day Gallipoli events

Published By ITCT News Desk On : April 25, 2019
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Ankara: Turkish police said they had arrested a Syrian national who was planning retaliation for New Zealand mosque attack.

The suspect, a Syrian national, was arrested after a police operation in Osmaniye and was among several IS members detained.

Turkish police allege the suspect, named in the charge sheet as 25-year-old Abdul Karim Helif, was planning the attack as retaliation for the mass shooting in March at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Two sim cards, one in a Samsung phone, are central to the case against him.

However the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has cast doubt on a possible plot to target Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli despite the arrest of a man with suspected links to Islamic State by Turkish police.

Morrison has confirmed the Gallipoli memorial service on Thursday will go ahead as planned. He has spoken to Australia’s chief of defence force, Angus Campbell, on the phone, who is on the ground and will address the ceremony.

“The reports that we are receiving are inconclusive about any link between that arrest and any possible planned event at Gallipoli itself,” Morrison told reporters in Townsville on Thursday. “In fact to make that assumption would be, I think, making a very big assumption.”

He noted the arrest had taken place three hours away from where the Gallipoli memorial service is held.

“It is fairly routine for Turkish authorities to arrest people with suspected terrorist links,” Morrison said.

Asked if security had been beefed up, Morrison said normal arrangements were in place.

Turkish police assessed the threat to be serious but gave no details about the nature of the proposed attack.

Australians and New Zealanders travel to Turkey each year for memorial services commemorating the failed 1915 military campaign by Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and allied forces to drive Ottoman troops from Gallipoli and the Dardanelles region.

The Australian veterans affairs minister, Darren Chester, said the arrest was primarily a matter for Turkish authorities.

“We work closely with the local Turkish authorities on security arrangements,” he told ABC Radio National on Thursday. “Obviously the tragic events in Christchurch had nothing to do with the events of 1915 on the peninsula and there’s a great deal of respect between the Turkish people and Australian and New Zealanders.”

The Australian War Memorial director, Brendan Nelson, praised Turkish authorities for dealing with the issue.

“The Turkish authorities went to extraordinary lengths to see that the Gallipoli peninsula was secure for the Anzac Day services that are being held there.”

Turkish nationals were banned from attending the dawn service amid heightened security fears.

 

SOURCE: Guardian

 

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