Skip to comments.Bomb attacks were planned in internet café
Posted on 11/22/2003 7:02:50 PM PST by Pokey78
The devastating suicide bombings in Istanbul last week were planned in an internet café in the remote eastern Turkish town of Bingol and co-ordinated with al-Qa'eda.
Turkish police seized equipment from the Bingol internet Merkezi café owned by the family of Gokhan Elaltintas. He is thought to have been one of two suicide bombers who attacked synagogues in Istanbul nine days ago.
Police have named Azad Ekinci and Feridun Ugurlu - also from Bingol - as prime suspects in the attack on the British consulate and the HSBC bank offices last Thursday that killed 32 people and injured more than 400.
The four bombers - natives of a town that is connected to the rest of Turkey by one treacherous road - had travelled across the Middle East and South Asia before returning home to form a terrorist cell which was activated this month. They are believed to have received weapons training in Pakistan and at al-Qa'eda camps in Afghanistan.
Security officials told the Turkish National Security Council on Friday night that as many as 1,000 Turks have trained in Islamist terrorist camps in the past decade.
The Turkish foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, has said that the two suspects in the latest bombings had visited Afghanistan, while the Turkish media reported that one trained in Iran in 2001. US intelligence officials said that both men trained in al-Qa'eda camps in Afghanistan, and returned to Turkey in 2001.
Bingol's proximity to Iran and Syria, which have become havens for al-Qa'eda since the Taliban regime was overthrown in Afghanistan, made it attractive as a base for plotting the terror attacks.
Al-Qa'eda operatives are believed to have made their way to Turkey to help design the bombs and fuses, picking the targets and planning the missions. They also taught the Turkish cells how to communicate via encrypted messages posted on the internet.
The Merkezi internet café remains open, but prominent on its wall is an official notice stating: "It is definitely banned to enter sites targeting the state, country and its inseparable integrity and constitutional order."
Elaltintas's uncle, Hassan Aktash, said that his nephew was a quiet young man who rarely left Bingol before his move to Istanbul.
The second synagogue bomber, Mesut Cabuk, was an acquaintance, the uncle said. His nephew was also a lifelong friend of Azad Ekinci, whose brother opened the internet café with Elaltintas's father two years ago.
Bingol is an ethnically divided town, split between hardline Turks and militant Kurds. Its population increased over the past decade as the army forcibly relocated villagers into the main towns of the province and provided incentives for Turks to move there to balance its population.
The town has a reputation as a hotbed of fundamentalism. Islamic groups emerged there in the 1980s, tolerated by an army fighting against the violent Kurdish PKK terrorist group in the region.
The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talked yesterday of the national shame that Turks had inflicted such carnage on the country's biggest city. "Citizens with links abroad have carried out the attacks," he said at a funeral for two policemen who died at the British consulate. "We have lost four terrorists who were our citizens."
Police officials said that 18 people had been arrested in connection with the bombings, including printers who had sold the men false identity papers and car dealers who provided the vehicles used in the attacks.
The fight against groups such as Turkish Hezbollah and the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front in towns like Bingol has now risen to the top of the Turkish agenda. Politicians worry that al-Qa'eda has infiltrated its hinterland with scores of sleeper cells that can be activated using the internet. Terrorism experts had judged Turkey a relatively low-risk nation until the recent spate of attacks.
"Who wants to check e-mail? ICQ? AIM? No waiting on terminal seven!"
I agree. The Turks are tough as nails.
The French. Well, they're French.
Bingol's location. Earlier this year, an earthquake struck Bingol. This boarding school collapsed, killing scores of children.
"Al-Qa'eda operatives are believed to have made their way to Turkey to help design the bombs and fuses, picking the targets and planning the missions. They also taught the Turkish cells how to communicate via encrypted messages posted on the internet."
My guess would be not too many. The Turks have a noted habit of being very brutal to those who would harm them.
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