ANKARA, Turkey – Police have arrested three Turks suspected of having fought alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, officials announced Friday.
The three were detained Tuesday in the southeastern province of Hakkari after they sneaked across the Iranian border, police said. The suspects — who were identified only by their initials — have not been formally charged but could face accusations of engaging in radical Islamic activity.
Last week, Turkish police arrested two Palestinians and a Jordanian believed to have crossed into Turkey en route to Israel, allegedly to carry out a suicide attack. Police said the three had trained in Taliban and Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
Police said the Turks detained in Hakkari on Tuesday were among about 20 Turks who left for Afghanistan in October "in response to the Al Qaeda's call for jihad," or holy war.
The U.S. assault on Afghanistan began Oct. 7 after the Taliban refused to surrender Usama bin Laden, head of the Al Qaeda terror network and chief suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. The Taliban regime fell in December.
Five Turks were detained in November after they returned to their homeland after failing to reach Afghanistan. The other Turks made it to Afghanistan, where they met Al Qaeda members, police said.
The Turks were given weapons and trained at an Al Qaeda camp near Kabul, the Afghan capital, police said in a statement.
The Turks fought alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda members for about two months, the police said. One died and three were wounded during U.S. bombing of a mountainous region near Kabul, the statement said.
Police said the suspects belong to the banned Selefiler organization, which aims to replace Turkey's secular government with an Islamic state.