Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Suicide bombing and mass shooting in Istanbul, Turkey. ISIS primary suspects.

Security stands near an entrance of Istanbul's Ataturk airport. Reuters. 

 Three attackers used rifles and suicide bombs to kill at least 31 people and wounded 150 more at Turkey's Istanbul Ataturk airport. Reuters. Ataturk airport is Europe's third most busy airport and a major global transport hub. No one has claimed credit for the attack yet but the Turkish government expects the involvement of Islamic State. If it does end up being ISIS, the attack continues ISIS's tradition of attacking in Ramadan. The attack mirrors the ISIS attack in Brussels earlier this year with armed men blowing themselves up at an airport terminal. 

My Comment:
I've heard via social media that the actual death count was closer to 50, but I haven't seen that be confirmed yet. Reuters itself said the death count was 36, but that number will probably go up. When one of these attacks happens the number of deaths is often either exaggerated or underestimated. In this case I think they are probably too low. Either way this was a devastating attack and another example of how dangerous ISIS is. 

Unlike the ISIS attack in Orlando this month, it's clear that this wasn't a lone wolf attack merely inspired by ISIS. With three attackers and suicide bombs, it would be unprecedented if this was pulled off by ISIS supporters without a direct connection to ISIS. No, this is a core ISIS attack, and may be the one I had been expecting for quite some time now.

I have been a broken record saying that I was expecting more attacks in Ramadan from ISIS and it looks like I was right. I also said that I was expecting a core ISIS attack in Europe before Ramadan is over. Though Turkey isn't traditionally considered a European country, Istanbul technically counts. I personally was expecting another attack in France or Belgium, but Turkey should have been high on my list as well.  

ISIS's tactics in this attack seems to be part of the new pattern. ISIS has largely given up on al-Qaeda's old tactics of targeting landmarks and airplanes, the attack in Egypt. notwithstanding. The new tactic is mass shootings with fully automatic weapons. ISIS has also combined these shooting attacks with bombings, to add to the death count. This new shift in tactics has been a boon for ISIS and has allowed them to pull off major attacks in Paris, Tunisia and Brussels. And other then the use of explosives, the attack in Orlando is similar in style. 

If you didn't watch the video, and I don't blame you if you didn't, you will see how dedicated ISIS fighters are to their cause. It appears that the ISIS fighter gets shot and drops his weapon. He was too wounded to continue his attack so he blew himself up. Though he didn't appear to wound or kill anyone besides himself it just goes to show that we probably won't be taking many ISIS fighters alive. 

ISIS has been very active in Turkey since last year. Before that they were essentially allies. The Turks would look the other way while ISIS was smuggling in fighters and weapons across the border in exchange for oil and fighting Syria's Assad led government. But then Turkey cracked down on ISIS in part so they could justify their attacks on the Kurds. This attack is what happens when you decide to work with terrorists. Eventually they turn on you. 

So what can be done to prevent these kinds of attacks? Good question. Clearly the ISIS fighters didn't have a hard time getting rifles and explosives. Controlling weapons is impossible in a country where there is a major war going on. ISIS probably didn't have any problem getting the rifles used in this attack and if they did they could have just smuggled them in from Syria. 

Increasing security won't do all that much either. From what I have heard, the security actually worked in this case. The guards at the airport spotted the gunmen and opened fire. They were just outgunned. And even if you shoot a suicide bomber it doesn't stop them from blowing themselves up. Security responded the way they should and it still resulted in multiple deaths and dozens of injuries. Having more guys with guns to stop these attackers is a good thing, but you won't always get lucky with these kinds of attacks like they did in Garland Texas. 

I am guessing the best way to stop these kinds of terror attacks is to disrupt and destroy the terror groups responsible. That worked for the core al-Qaeda group. They haven't pulled of a major terrorist attack in years, only their affiliates have. The problem is that destroying ISIS is a huge problem that doesn't have an easy solution. Even as they are being pushed out of Iraq and Syria, they still have bases in Libya, Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and also have their Boko Haram allies in Africa. 

Essentially we are going to have to live with the threat of ISIS terror attacks for the time being. We are just going to have to accept that there are going to be these kinds of mass casualty terror attacks. Increasing security can help but there is always a chance of having a bad day like the Turks did today... 

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