ISTANBUL (TIP): Turkish media have named a one-armed Chechen warlord as the mastermind behind the Istanbul Ataturk Airport massacre. The shocking triple suicide bombing on Tuesday, 28th June, claimed the lives of 43 people – 19 of them foreigners – and injuring more than 300.
The Turkish authorities have pointed the finger at Sunni terrorist group Islamic State (Isis). The attackers have been identified as being Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals.
No terror group claimed responsibility for the attack so far, as pictures emerged of the bombers wheeling baggage into the airport before they began shooting innocent civilians. Some reports have named one of the men as Osman Vadinov, and he is said to have crossed into Turkey from Syria last year.
Following the deadly attack, police carried out raids on 16 separate locations in Istanbul and rounded up 13 people suspected of having links to IS (Daesh). According to reports, the manhunt spanned three neighborhoods on the city’s Asian and European sides.
Turkish police are hoping to track down Akhmed Chataev, an IS commander with at least 130 militants at his disposal as a matter of priority, according to the BBC. Chataev, who is also known by his nom de guerre “Akhmed the one-armed”, is accused by security sources of creating terror cells that can be sent into Russia.
Chataev, who claims that his right arm was chopped off in prison, is thought to target young men who hold European Union passports for jihad. The Chechen is believed to have fled Russia 12 years ago, and was granted refugee status in Austria.
He is accused of sending military equipment to the Northern Caucuses for terrorists to use and in 2008, he was arrested in Sweden and spent a year in jail for illegal possession of Kalashnikov guns, explosives and bullets, which were found in his car, the Daily Mail reported. Chataev insisted that he was trapped in a sting operation.
After relocating again to Ukraine he is then said to have narrowly avoided deportation to Russia because of his Austrian citizenship. A year later he was injured in a battle in the Lopota mountain valley, in Georgia.