ISIS to Blame for Istanbul Attack: Will Turkey Finally Fight Them Now?

Ambulances arrive at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following a blast June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, according to Turkish officials, it has been confirmed the Istanbul attack, which left at least 41 dead and 230 injured in Turkey was, in fact, the work of ISIS.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said “the evidence points to Daesh”, using another name for the Islamic State or ISIS.

Last night, just before 10 p.m. Istanbul time (3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time), a series of gunshots rang out from the security checkpoint at Terminal 2 of Turkey’s Ataturk airport. The two assailants fired what appeared to be two full clips from the AK-47 assault rifles that had hidden in their coats. A video posted on Twitter immediately after the attack showed one of the terrorists walking through the Terminal while emptying his assault rifle at passers by. Police shot the man, and ran to him as he fell.

That’s when they saw the bomb vest, concealed inside the man’s all black garb.

Diving away just as the dying man detonated his bomb, the police officers were barely spared any of the shrapnel. Immediately after that, a second explosion went off in the parking lot outside the terminal. Another member of ISIS, going to his virgin reward. Some of those present report seeing at least four armed men fleeing from the scene, but only three attackers (including the two who exploded themselves) are known to have been involved.

After the attack, Turkish authorities positively identified the attackers and confirmed their link to ISIS.

The terrorist organization has yet to claim credit for the attack, which may well have been carried out without any knowledge from the higher-ups. While those involved were indeed part of the organization, it’s not unheard of for radical jihadists from ISIS to do a bit of freelancing in the name of Allah. However, a U.S. government official told the ever-reliable Fox News that the attack certainly fits ISIS’ profile. Turkey’s Prime minister has also blamed ISIS for the attack.

ISIS remains silent on the matter. Which, in itself, is a bit strange.

It’s par for the course for terrorist organizations like ISIS to claim credit for any attack they possibly can. Even if the terrorist group’s organizers had no knowledge of an attack whatsoever, it’s typically a badge of honor to claim an attack in the name of one’s own terrorist organization. ISIS has certainly done this on several occasions — even a few times when they might or might not have been involved. So, why so quiet on the Airport bombing?

In fact, why hasn’t ISIS outwardly claimed credit for any of the three terrorist attacks that took place in Turkey in 2016? Even if they had nothing to do with January and March’s suicide attacks, or the car bomb that exploded in June — it’s extremely curious that ISIS didn’t at least try to take credit for them. Very out of character for a terrorist organization.

Unless you know ISIS. And Turkey.

While possessing the single largest ground army in the entire Middle East, and while technically standing as a N.A.T.O ally against ISIS, Turkey has been roundly criticized for years for doing little to nothing about the terrorist organization on its doorstep. Offering little more than a few token troops and a place to land aircraft, Turkey has been accused of everything from indifference to outright collusion with ISIS. A claim that certainly seems to stand up if you believe Russia’s reports of known ISIS outposts sitting open and unmolested on Turkey’s northern border.

Whether you believe Russia’s claims of Turkey colluding with ISIS or not, nobody can deny that Turkey’s commitment to defeating ISIS has vacillated between “nonexistent” and “bare minimum.”

Given ISIS’ de-facto armistice with its massively armed neighbor, it would indeed be very unwise for the Islamic State to claim public credit for any attack against Turkey.

Which it hasn’t, and probably won’t.

At least, not until Turkey finally decides to end its de-facto armistice with the terrorist regime, and commit to destroying it. Then you can expect ISIS to start taking credit for attacks like yesterday’s. An attack undeniably committed by ISIS members, and which Turkey’s Prime minister will have a very hard time justifying against the cost of serious retaliation.

It might be a little harsh to call this terrible atrocity “poetic justice.” It probably is undeservedly cruel to say that Turkey brought this on itself.

After all, those people in the airport didn’t decide to not fight ISIS. Most of the 230 people killed or injured weren’t even from Turkey — and as far as anyone knows, none of the nation’s legislators were among them. It’s not the “victims” fault that the nation they happened to have landed in made a deal with the Devil, permitting evil to live on its doorstep in exchange for internal security. These poor souls didn’t genuflect to that Devil in an act of sickening governmental and military cowardice to make the French seem outright courageous.

But the people who owned this international airport did.

And that’s why people died in it.

Is this the final straw for Turkey? Is this the spur that finally drives this massive military power and N.A.T.O. ally into real action against ISIS? Have Turkey’s leaders finally learned the price of collusion with the evil on their doorstep?

Time will tell.

 

 

Featured image Reuters courtesy of the Indian Express