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Niger Arrests Two Turks Coming From Istanbul Via Turkish Airlines On Charge Of Supporting ISIS

On December 25, 2019, Al-Arabiya published a report saying that Niger's National Security Service arrested "three terrorists," including two Turkish citizens and a local collaborator, flying from Turkey on Turkish Airlines.[1] The three are accused of being affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Greater Sahara.

According to the report, the arrest of the three came hours after security services issued an alert including a photo and pictures of the passports of "a dangerous group of terrorists that has infiltrated into the capital Niamey."

Photos of the two Turkish suspects


A photo of Soner Gürleyen's passport


A photo of Muhammet Ozcan's passport

Citing a Nigerien security source, the report notes that the two Turks arrived from Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight and were arrested "on suspicion of supporting ISIS in the Greater Sahara."

The report adds that ISIS claimed a "bloody attack" against a military base west of Niger on December 12, 2019, that killed 71 soldiers and wounded others. ISIS's West Africa Province claimed that the attack "killed at least 100 Nigerien soldiers and wounded dozens others."[2]

According to the report, observers say that "it is likely that the three suspects are connected to Turkish parties providing logistical support and weapons to terrorist groups in the Sahel and Libya."

A photo of the third suspect from Niger

A photo of the Nigerien passport of the suspect Moulaye Zeini Abdouramane Samber

Quoting local sources, the report says: "Turkish companies have established an international airport in Niamey in a suspicious deal that included a condition stating that a Turkish company would administer it for two-and-a-half years, in which passengers would pay a tax that would reimburse the construction cost of the airport in five years only." The report concludes by saying: "Fears prevail in the region that Turkey would use the airport and Turkish Airlines flights to Niamey and Bamako [in Mali] to support extremists in southern Libya and destabilize neighboring Nigeria."

It should be noted that Turkey has been criticized for its involvement in the domestic affairs of African countries particularly Nigeria[3] and Libya.[4]