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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 11:34 GMT
Al-Qaeda suspects charged in Turkey
Al-Qaeda suspects in pictures released by Turkish police
The suspects could be questioned by US officials
Three al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Turkey have been formally remanded in custody for using fake documents to enter the country, the semi-official Anatolia news agency has reported.

They were allegedly heading for Israel on a suicide bomb mission.

The three, two Palestinians and a Jordan, are being detained at Istanbul's highest security prison following their arrest last week in the eastern city of Van.

The police allege that that they had received military training in Afghanistan, and had fought for the Taleban there. They say that all three were carrying forged passports and ID cards, as well as Arabic documents said to contain bomb-making instructions.

It is the first time since the 11 September attacks that al-Qaeda suspects have been held in Turkey.

'Mission to kill'

Police spokesman Feyzullah Arslan told a news conference in Ankara on Tuesday that the suspects, identified as Firaz Suleiman, Ahmed Mahmoud and Mustafa Hassan, were arrested after their car failed to stop at a checkpoint after crossing the border illegally from Iran.

Suspect named as Firaz Suleiman
Firaz Suleiman was allegedly instructed to travel to Israel
He said they were members of a group, Beyyiat al-Imam, which was linked to al-Qaeda.

Mr Suleiman, he alleged, had been instructed by the group to travel to an Israeli city - either Tel Aviv or Ramat Gan - and carry out the suicide mission in a "crowded area".

His two accomplices were to learn of the mission only after arriving in Jordan, said Mr Arslan.

A number of other people have also been detained in the Turkish inquiry.

No bombs

One was said to have been driving the car in which the suspects were arrested. Several others were allegedly working in Istanbul to assist them.

Police did not recover any weapons or explosives.

The arrests follow recent television reports which suggested that two Tunisian-born Canadians - one of whom recorded a suicide mission video found in Afghanistan - might be in Turkey.

Other police forces across Europe have arrested a number of suspects, some of them said to be key links in Osama Bin Laden's chain of command.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Al-Qaeda
The war on Bin Laden's terror network
See also:

05 Feb 02 | Europe
Terror suspects on trial in Italy
04 Feb 02 | Europe
France arrests suspect militants
11 Dec 01 | Europe
Looking for European al-Qaeda
21 Sep 01 | Europe
Islamic 'plotters' held in France
18 Sep 01 | Americas
France backs US on terrorism
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