Anzac Day 2019: Chilling details emerge of IS terrorist's plan to attack Gallipoli services

A suspected Islamic State (IS) terrorist has been arrested in Turkey amid fears he was planning to attack Anzac Day services in Gallipoli being attended by thousands of Australians and New Zealanders.

The 25-year-old Syrian man, named as Abdulkarim Hilef, was detained in Tekirdag, a northwest province near the Gallipoli peninsula, a Tekirdag police spokesman said on Wednesday.

Every year, Australians and New Zealanders travel to Turkey for WWI memorial services commemorating the failed 1915 military campaign by Anzac and allied forces to drive Ottoman troops from Gallipoli and the Dardanelles region.

The local Demiroren news agency said the man was believed to have been preparing an attack by bombing or driving into crowds in retaliation for the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand in March, which resulted in the deaths of 50 people.

Other local media reported the man was picked up after other IS members were arrested in the city of Osmaniye.

"His phone number was found on their phones and he was tracked," the Aydninlik news outlet said according to an online translation.

Turkey's Daily Sabah said the attack could have taken place ceremonies being held on April 25 in western Canakkale.

It comes after Sri Lanka this week said it believed the ISIS-linked suicide bombings at multiple Christian churches on Easter Sunday that killed 359 people were in retaliation for the NZ killings.

Turkish nationals have been banned from attending the Anzac dawn service Gallipoli on Thursday, which will be attended by Australia's Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell, amid heightened security fears.

The New Zealand Defence Force said Australian and New Zealand agencies are "liaising with the responsible Turkish authorities in relation to this media reporting", and it was a matter for Turkish authorities to handle.

Anzac commemorations would go ahead as planned.

IS has targeted Turkey before

Turkey has previously blamed IS for several bombings in the country in 2015 and 2016, which killed 200 people in total.

Although the militant group has not been active in Turkey of late, authorities still carry out routine operations against suspected IS members.

This year's Anzac service comes a month after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan faced criticism in Australia and NZ for comments he made after a lone gunman fired on congregations in two mosques in Christchurch attending Friday prayers on March 15.

Erdogan played a video from the shootings at local election rallies and said the gunman had targeted Turkey by saying in a manifesto posted online that Turks should be removed from the European half of Istanbul.

He also threatened to send back "in coffins" anyone who tried to take the battle to Istanbul.

A 28-year-old Australian suspected white supremacist has been charged with 50 counts of murder in relation to NZ's worst peacetime mass shooting.

This year marks the 104th anniversary of the landing of the Anzacs in Gallipoli, where tens of thousands of soldiers died.


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