Three suicide bombers have attacked Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. According to early reports at least 36 were killed and 147 wounded in the attacks. Except some fluctuation in these numbers as the grievously wounded die in hours and days to come.
It has been reported that one of the bombers blew up his own vest but that the vests of the other two were detonated remotely, after police shot them. If this is true, it is a significant development in the type of weapons capability used by terrorists in the urban environment. A magnetic switch is a possibility given that it has been used in Turkey before.
According to Turkish government officials, it is likely that ISIS is behind the attacks. Both ISIS and the PKK have attacked the airport in the past.
Security at Ataturk Airport consists primarily of metal decorators at the entrances monitored by guards armed with MP5s at the low ready. Additional security inside the terminals is provided multiple sets of roving guards. Although details are still sketchy, it appears that at least one of the bombers was prevented from entering the terminal and detonated his suicide vest just outside the entrance.
Once again the political tectonics of the Middle East are shifting, and this attack is evidence of that movement. And it is no coincidence that it comes on the heels of Turkey’s apology to Russia for shooting down a Russian jet over the Syrian-Turkish border last November. Russia’s growing footprint in the Middle East, made possible in large measure by America’s ongoing policy of disengagement from the region, has caused Turkey to rethink its relations with both Russia and the United States. Clearly, Turkey has recognized that it must improve relations with Russia, a development that does not sit well with ISIS–which has enjoyed considerable support from Turkey until now. The airport bombing was made by ISIS in retaliation for Turkey’s evident rapprochement with Russia. We may expect more attacks until operations in and around Mosul have concluded.