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Turkey seizes Paris attack suspect at border

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Turkey seizes Paris attack suspect at border
Ahmad Dahmani, 26, is led away by Turkish police. Photo: Ihlas News Agency/AFP
16:02 CET+01:00
Turkey has detained a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin suspected of links to the Paris attacks and who was seeking to flee to Syria, a government official said Saturday.
Ahmad Dahmani, 26, is accused of being "in contact" with the Islamist extremists who carried out the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State (IS) jihadists, the official added.
 
He was detained close to the southern resort city of Antalya along with two others, reportedly Syrian citizens who were to help him cross the border into Syria.
 
"The security forces stated that Dahmani is an ISIS militant who was preparing to illegally cross the Turkish-Syrian border," said the official. "We believe that Dahmani was in contact with the terrorists who perpetrated the Paris attacks. The investigation continues.
   
Pictures showed Dahmani -- wearing a Ferrari sports jacket and with his hands behind his back -- being led away by plain clothes police.
 
The Dogan news agency reported earlier that Dahmani had carried out reconnaissance work to scout out targets for the attacks in Paris. However this was not confirmed by the government official.
 
Anti-terror police had followed Dahmani after he arrived at Antalya's airport and checked into a five-star hotel in the luxury resort of Manavgat to the east of the city on November 16, Dogan said.
 
They then detained him and the two Syrians, who the report said had been tasked by the IS leadership to supply him with a fake passport and take Dahmani to safety in jihadist-controlled Syria, the report added.
 
It was not immediately clear when they had been detained. All three were taken to court and are in prison, the official added.
 
Turkish officials said he had arrived at Antalya's airport on a flight from Amsterdam on November 14.
 
Antalya had only one week ago hosted -- under the heaviest security -- the annual Group of 20 summit of world leaders including US President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
 
Turkey has long been accused by its Western allies of failing to do enough to halt the flow of jihadists across its border to IS controlled-territory in northern Syria.
 
However the authorities have been making conscious efforts in recent weeks to tighten Turkey's borders, making almost daily arrests of extremists seeking to join IS.
 
Ankara has repeatedly urged European states to fully share intelligence on suspected jihadists and Turkish officials accused the Belgian authorities of falling short on this occasion.
 
Turkish officials said that the police arrested Dahmani based on information from the Turkish intelligence services, not from foreign partners.
 
Turkey has issued entry bans for some 26,600 suspected jihadists largely based on intelligence issued by allies, according to government data.
 
But Turkey had no entry ban flagged for Dahmani as there was no record of the Belgian authorities warning about him.
 
"Had the Belgian authorities alerted us in due time, Dahmani could have been apprehended at the airport," said the official. "We urge our allies to continue sharing information with us," said the official.
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