- Associated Press - Friday, October 22, 2010

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police have detained five people, including three university students, suspected of providing financial and technical support to the al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, police and reports said Friday.

One of the suspects is also accused of preparing for a possible bomb attack, according to a police official in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir.

The five were detained Wednesday during raids in five Turkish cities, including Izmir, where anti-terrorism officials are leading the investigation. They were being questioned by court officials Friday before facing possible charges.

The state-run Anatolia news agency, without citing sources, identified one of the suspects by his initials A.K. and said police discovered two liters of hydrogen peroxide and other material used to make bombs while searching his home in the central Turkish city of Kayseri. The report claimed the suspect was in search of fertilizers used in the production of bombs when he was arrested.

The 23-year-old mathematics student at Izmir’s Dozkuz Eylul University was also developing computer programs designed to down or jam unmanned aircraft, the agency claimed. Police also seized video CDs showing A.K. outdoors, trying out homemade explosives, it said.

The agency said the other suspects included a 19-year-old from Chechnya studying computer science at Istanbul University as well as a 22-year-old civil engineering student in the city of Antalya. The two others were a self-employed person and a shoemaker or seller, according to Anatolia.

The police official in Izmir would not confirm that a Chechnyan was among the detained. He spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with Turkish regulations that bar state employees from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.

Anatolia said the five were in contact via e-mail with a person who had previously been jailed on al Qaeda-related charges in Turkey and was now believed to be at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. All five are suspected of raising and sending money to al Qaeda camps, it said.

Homegrown Islamic militants tied to the al Qaeda carried out suicide bombings in Istanbul, killing 58 people in 2003. The targets were the British consulate, a British bank and two synagogues. In 2008, an attack blamed on al Qaeda-affiliated militants outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul left three assailants and three policemen dead.

Turkish authorities have said dozens of Islamic militants have received training in Afghanistan although al Qaeda’s austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public backing in Turkey.

Several other radical Islamic groups are active in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but officially secular country.