|Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey|
Julian Bray writes: Wednesday 18:00 BST
Although no organisation has so far claimed responsibility, and the Turkish Prime Minister (he said it was Daesh ie ISIL, but no external proof has been forthcoming) repeatedly insisting there were 'no gaps in security', but clearly there were gaps.
The suicide bombers managed to detonate three explosions, in three very different defined locations and before each final act sprayed an 'high population density zone/area' with automatic gunfire. An AK47 can clearly been seen in multiple cameraphone video footage as one of the bombers was shot by armed Turkish police, unfortunately the bomber still had time to detonate his explosives vest. Or possibly, and this comment piece is pure speculation, it could also have been remotely fired by a third party, either by mobile phone signal or a timer device. The vests would have been secured to the bomber using straps or duct tape. Just in case he/she had second thoughts, and tried to dump the device before it was triggered.
The first detonation at the taxi drop off zone, and apparently as everyone (naturally) rushed away from the locus of the bomb, the bombers carefully planned to take advantage of the confusion caused, ran though the x-ray line (now possibly deserted by the unarmed operative) and violated a secondary (outer) security control, detonating a second device, the third device a suicide vest was then triggered near the arrivals zone, and the incident graphically captured on CCTV. The images are too vivid to show, but body parts including a detached limb lies near to a dismembered torso.
But why attack this popular airport, an important aviation hub? It is a combination of location and long establish conflicts within and around the country. Turkey has also made available its military airbases to friendly nations to carry on the war in Syria. An important international staging post.
We have to recognise that over 200 people have been killed as a result of incidents,in the last twelve months. Turkey has (or perhaps we have to recognise had) a vibrant tourist industry, the economic backbone of the country.
By attacking this type of soft target, rather than say an inflight aircraft, it has greater and longer lasting worldwide impact in publicity and media terms, and cruelly demonstrates the terrorists increasing level of strategic knowledge.
This was a very well organised attack. This style of targeted incident requires, far less effort, both in terms of resources and the loss of 'soldiers.' It also directly and immediately impacts on worldwide public opinion, as the visible damage and aftermath is relentlessly played over and over, on social media, seen in printed newspapers, and commented on by international news outlets generally. Sadly it is also considered to be a recruiting device by some terrorist organisations.
Members of the public, do however, have a powerful tactical weapon to use to advantage, as simply if they did not buy holiday packages and airline tickets to, or near, conflict and war zones, the holiday tour operators would quickly stop advance block booking hotels, coaches and securing local resources. Much of which is paid long in advance, and in foreign exchange.
This cataclysmic drop in revenues would quickly 'encourage' the authorities to again look at security issues, or their economy collapses. It is as simple as that. So where to go on holiday? Cruise ships are looking increasingly attractive, and as one Fleet Captain put it "I have 400 chefs and 200 Butchers on board, around the clock. All have large knives. Heaven help anyone who tries it on here."
Officials are confirming that at least three explosions detonated by suicide bombers in the international arrivals hall at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday night, killed at least 41 people and wounding another 239. These numbers may rise.
The blasts occurred at the international departures area at Ataturk International Airport,
Eye witnesses claim they saw 3 suicide bombers, the explosions were triggered before the bombers reached the x-ray line, but not before one of the men opened up with an AK-47.
Passengers ran for cover in surrounding duty free retail outlets as police jumped on one of the men however the (thought to be) ISIL terrorist detonated his bomb in the process, another simply dropped his package - and started to run away - with police in pursuit - which then exploded.
An airport worker claimed he heard an explosion and then saw police jump on a man who then blew himself up. People then tried to stop another person who appeared to be wearing an explosives jacket. In accordance with a major incident plan, the airport after the incident was rapidly cleared of passengers and workers, locked down as a precaution against any secondary attack claiming more lives. It re-opened at 7am (Wednesday), with an initial restricted service.
Latest Foreign Office advisory (posted as at 29/06/2016; click this link for updates) relating to Terrorism and Turkey:
TerrorismThe threat from terrorism remains high. Terrorist groups, including Kurdish groups, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) and far left organisations, continue to plan and carry out attacks. Further attacks are likely.
Terrorist groups, including Daesh and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites in Turkey.
You should take extra care in public places – particularly those visited by foreigners.
Be vigilant, follow the advice of local security authorities, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.
On 12 January 2016 there was a suicide bomb attack against tourists in Sultanahmet in Istanbul in which 10 people died. On 19 March 2016 a similar attack against tourists on Istiklal St in Istanbul killed 4 people.
On 17 February 2016 a large bomb attack near a military barracks on Eskisehir Road in Ankara killed 28 people. On 13 March 2016, a similar attack killed over 30 people at Kizilay Square in central Ankara.
On 27 April 2016 there was a suspected suicide bomb attack at Bursa Ulu Mosque. The bomber was killed and 7 people slightly injured.
On 1 May 2016 a bomb attack at the Central Police Station in Gaziantep killed two police officers and injured 23 others.
On 7 June 2016 a bomb attack in the Vezneciler area of Istanbul killed 7 police officers and 4 civilians. 36 people were injured.
On 28 June 2016 Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul was attacked. More than 30 people were killed. [ Now known to be 41 dead and 239 wounded; numbers are likely to rise ]
Attacks are likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations. Nevertheless, it’s increasingly likely that some attacks will also target western interests and tourists from western countries, particularly in the major cities, as was the case in Istanbul on 12 January and 19 March 2016. To date most attacks in Turkey have taken place in the south and east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul. There is a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey.
Turkish authorities have successfully disrupted attack planning in the recent past. The Turkish authorities have said that security has been tightened in response to recent attacks. Nevertheless, further attacks are likely, could be indiscriminate and may target or affect places visited by foreigners.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aerospace & Incident Management Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com