Report: Istanbul attacks carried out by 10-man cell connected to al Qaeda
A Turkish suspect who allegedly ordered the start of a suicide truck bombing attack against an Istanbul synagogue has confessed to having ties with the Osama Ben Laden's Al-Qaeda network, Turkish newspapers reported Sunday.
Hurriyet daily on Sunday identified as Yousuf Pollat as the man allegedly behind the November 15 bombing, one of two suicide attacks on synagogues in the city on the same day, that left 24 people dead and hundreds wounded.
The suspect, whom police said was captured last week while trying to slip into Iran, has been charged with trying to overthrow Turkey's "constitutional order" - a crime equivalent to treason that is punishable by life in prison.
He is accused of having given the order to carry out the November 15 truck bombing of the Beth Israel synagogue - one of four suicide attacks in Istanbul that killed 61 people, police said.
Radikal newspaper said Pollat was born in 1974 in Turkey's southeastern province of Malatya.
The leading Milliyet daily and other newspapers said Pollat had confessed to belonging to a 10-man cell that he said was an extension of the al-Qaeda network. Police also had evidence that the attacks had received support domestically and from abroad, Milliyet reported.
According to Sabah newspaper, several members of the cell, including several of the suicide bombers, had met while training in Afghanistan.
Citing Pollat's confession, Sabah reported that the man suspected of being the suicide bomber at the HSBC bank in Istanbul, started planning the attack in June because of "the occupation of Iraq" and because "Muslims were suffering." He was identified as Habib Aktas.
He was wanted by Turkish authorities since 1995 due to his connections with the Turkish Hizbullah group.
In another development, Syria handed over 22 suspects to Turkish authorities Sunday in connection with the recent suicide bombings in Istanbul, Anatolia news agency reported. The suspects, all Turks, reportedly fled the country after the attacks.
Citing a statement from paramilitary police, Anatolia said the suspects included Azat Ekinci and Hilmi Tuglaoglu - both named as central figures in the attacks. It said the suspects were being questioned. (Albawaba.com)
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