Turkish police said Thursday that they had found evidence of a plot linked to Al Qaeda to bomb the United States Embassy in Ankara, a synagogue in Istanbul and other targets, from a raid on two houses in February, according to news reports.
The reports said the police had seized nearly 50 pounds of plastic explosives with detonation systems attached, as well as six laptop computers and other evidence. Twelve people were detained during the operation — two Chechens, two Azeris and eight Turks.
The evidence was gathered during a raid on two terrorist cells, one in Istanbul and one in Corlu, a district of Tekirdag on the Sea of Marmara. Forensic analysis of the computers’ contents and other documents, officials said, revealed preparations for bomb attacks on the embassy, the private Rahmi M. Koc Museum and a synagogue in the Balat district of Istanbul.
Photographs, floor plans and other information were found concerning those targets and the residences and offices of two well-known Turks.
After the police raid, the American Embassy issued a travel warning, but it said at the time that the Turkish National Police had not provided specific threat information about the targets.
The police in Tekirdag said they had been monitoring a man said to belong to Al Qaeda who arrived in the city two years ago, after receiving military training at the terrorist organization’s camps in Afghanistan, according to CNN-Turk. That surveillance led to the February raid, they said.
The American Embassy was the target of a suicide bomb attack in February that killed a Turkish security guard and severely injured a local resident. But that attack was attributed to an extreme left-wing organization, not Islamic militants.
In 2008, three gunmen attacked security guards outside the American diplomatic mission in Istanbul in a shootout that left the assailants and three police officers dead.