GeriGündem Turkey investigates possible al Qaeda link in U.S. Consulate attack
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Turkey investigates possible al Qaeda link in U.S. Consulate attack

Turkey investigates possible al Qaeda link in U.S. Consulate attack
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Turkish media speculated that the attack against the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul was the work of an illegal group linked to al Qaeda. Three attackers, who died in the attack along with three police officers, have been identified as Turkish citizens, Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said late on Wednesday. Four people were taken into custody as part of an investigation, Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. (UPDATED)

Turkish security sources said all three assailants were from eastern Turkey and they were suspected of being members of a group linked to al Qaeda. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Wednesday he could neither rule out nor support suspicions al Qaeda was behind the attack.


Four armed men drove a car up to the high-walled compound situated in Istanbul's Istinye district. Three jumped out of the car as it stopped and began firing at police at a guard post.The police officers fired back, killing three of the assailants - all Turks - as bystanders ran for cover and at least one attacker escaped in the car. A wide search was launched for the fourth attacker.       


An official told Hurriyet daily the three attackers had only recently returned to Turkey after a period of time in Afghanistan, which has led to speculation that they may have received training at an al Qaeda camp. 


The official also added that the assailants were members of a Turkish Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group, known as the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front, or IBDA-C.


Istanbul police raided a number of addresses across the city and have reportedly taken four people, including the brother of one of the attackers, into custody for questioning. It is also reported that police seized documents related to al Qaeda.


Another possibility is that this attack may be considered a "revenge attack", since two of the three assailants killed come from the same southeastern province of Bitlis as the al Qaeda

militant who was reportedly killed in a U.S. operation in Afghanistan last week.


As yet no clear motive for the attack has been identified and it is still unclear whether the attackers were trying to force entry into the consulate compound or, as some media reports have claimed, simply to attack Turkish police guarding the compound.


In 2003, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for devastating bombings of the British Consulate in Istanbul, the local headquarters of the HSBC Bank and two synagogues, which together left 58 dead, including British Consul General Roger Short.




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