Last updated: 01:24 PM ET, Thu June 30 2016

REPORT: All 3 Istanbul Attackers Were From The Former USSR

Impacting Travel | Josh Lew | June 30, 2016

REPORT: All 3 Istanbul Attackers Were From The Former USSR

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

All three of the attackers from this week’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport tragedy were from the former Soviet Union. According to the BBC, one was a Russian from the North Caucasus region and the others were from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The British news organization said an unnamed Turkish official provided the information.   

Turkish officials have been telling the media that they believe the so-called Islamic State was behind the attacks, but the group has not yet claimed that it was involved. However, Turkish law enforcement has detained more than a dozen people in connection with the attacks.  

Some news organizations have said that the Russian attacker was ethnic Chechen, though officials in Turkey and Russia have yet to confirm this. There are also suspicions that a Chechen named Akhmed Chatayev, a known IS recruiter, was involved in planning the attack. 

IS has actively recruited members from Chechnya, which is still technically part of Russia, and from other areas in Russia that have large Muslim minorities. According the Vladimir Putin, thousands of Russians and people from countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union are fighting with IS. If Russian estimates are correct, Russians constitute the third largest nationality amongst the terror group's ranks. Only Tunisia and Saudi Arabia have more IS fighters. 

READ MORE: Is Istanbul Safe for Tourists?

The death toll from the attack has now risen to 43. More than half of the fatalities were Turkish citizens. Many of those killed were not passengers but people who worked at the airport. 

This was the fourth major terror attack this year in Turkey. A Syrian bomber killed 12 German tourists in Istanbul in January. The two other major attacks targeted Turkish police and military. It is widely believed that IS is responsible for the attacks that targeted civilians and a Kurdish rebel group, known as TAK, carried out the attacks that hit armed forces and law enforcement. However, TAK did claim a bombing that killed one person at Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Istanbul’s other airport, late last year. 

Flights have resumed at Ataturk, Europe’s third busiest airport, since the attacks. The FAA has lifted a temporary ban on U.S. airlines flying to Istanbul. However, the U.S. State Department has warned of increased terrorist activity in the country, especially in the southwest. 

Delta Air Lines had suspended flights to Turkey last year and declined to renew its seasonal summertime service this year. This was partly because of security concerns and partly because the routes were just not profitable. 

Ataturk will attempt to get back to normal, but there will certainly be increased security, not only there, but at airports around the world. 


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