A foreign-born Islamic State suicide bomber reportedly slaughtered 10 foreign tourists and injured another 15 in Istanbul, Turkey, the latest in a series of Muslim terrorist attacks aimed at Westerners.
Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has no doubt been emboldened because President Obama’s response so far to its aggression and provocations has been timid and half-hearted. Muslim terrorists may vilify Obama in their propaganda but they don’t fear him. After all, he’s their great benefactor. He’s the one who – with Hillary Clinton’s help – set the Middle East and North Africa on fire during the fateful so-called Arab Spring.
The Islamic State assault Tuesday that killed eight German nationals also constituted an act of economic warfare, apparently the first such attack to target Turkey’s $30 billion tourism sector, already hard hit after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border two months ago. According to BBC, Germany provides the greatest number of tourists to Turkey, providing 5.1 million tourists in 2014.
“This attack could play a significant role in shaping Turkey’s policy in Syria,” Tom Rogan opined at National Review Online.
“First, it’s personal: By slaughtering Western European and Turkish civilians in the physical and spiritual heart of Istanbul, ISIS has slapped Turkey’s president [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan in the face. The city holds special meaning to him — he served as its mayor and as a member of parliament for Istanbul. ISIS surely hopes that this atrocity, the country’s third major ISIS attack, will frighten Western tourists away from Turkey.”
Added Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute, “by striking in the heart of Istanbul’s old city, which has many … tourists, but few Turks, (Islamic State) is targeting Turkey’s lucrative tourism industry.”
“This attack will, unfortunately, drive further backlash against German Chancellor [Angela] Merkel’s pro-Syrian refugee policy.”
There were two major bombing attacks in Turkey in 2015 that were blamed on Islamic State. Upwards of 30 people died in a July suicide bombing in Suruc, near the Syrian border. In the fall more than 100 people were killed by bombs planted outside Ankara’s main train station.
The latest atrocity took place after Turkey, whose leaders aim to transform that country into a Muslim fundamentalist state – albeit not as rapidly as Islamic State prefers – vowed last year to up its involvement in the American-led campaign against the barbaric decapitators of Islamic State.
Turkey is allowing the United States to use its airbases to raid the terrorist group’s strongholds in Syria and has conducted some of its own airstrikes against the organization. Turkey is also reportedly taking steps to beef up security along its 560-miles border with Syria in hopes of preventing Islamic State militants from reaching its soil.
Islamic State, which is reportedly losing ground in Syria, has promised to step up its attacks on Westerners around the globe. It claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Paris last year and perpetrators claiming to act on behalf of Islamic State have carried out attacks on American soil, notably in the recent jihadist massacre at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, Calif.
Germany’s Merkel, under fire at home for recklessly flooding her own country with jihad-friendly so-called refugees from terrorist-controlled parts of Syria, said her country would carry on in its fight against terrorism.
“Today Istanbul was the target, before Paris, Copenhagen, Tunis, and so many other areas,” she said. “International terror changes the places of its attacks but its goal is always the same — it is our free life, in free society. The terrorists are the enemies of all free people, indeed, the enemies of all humanity, whether in Syria or Turkey, in France or Germany.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the assailant was a “foreign national” and a member of Islamic State and vowed to fight the terrorist group until it no longer “remains a threat” to Turkey or the world.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the assailant was a Syrian citizen born in 1988 but other media outlets said the bomber, reportedly identified by body parts, was born in Saudi Arabia. Kurtulmus said the individual recently came to Turkey by way of strife-torn Syria but was not on a terrorist watch list maintained by Turkey.
“Turkey won’t backtrack in its struggle against Daesh by even one step,” Davutoglu said. “This terror organization, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve.”
U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby condemned the terrorist bombing.
“The United States reaffirms our strong commitment to work with Turkey, a NATO ally and valued member” of the coalition fighting Islamic State “to combat the shared threat of terrorism,” Kirby said.
The explosion that claimed the lives of eight German tourists took place in a picturesque park in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, near the famous Blue Mosque, Ottoman-era Topkapi Palace, and the former Byzantine Christian church of Hagia Sophia, which is now a museum. Norwegian, Peruvian, South Korean, and Turkish nationals were among the non-fatally wounded.
“It was a suicide bomb,” said eyewitness Murat Manaz. “I went there and saw it and came back to the hotel. There was chaos. Everybody was running somewhere.”
“Policemen did not see this coming. They were distressed but at the same time they were trying to evacuate the area because they said there was a possibility that a second bomb could go off.”
The blast had “an earthquake effect,” said shopkeeper Halil Ibrahim Peltek. “There was panic because the explosion was violent.”
Many more such earthquakes seem likely to follow.