Mastermind behind Istanbul airport attack ′blew himself up′ in Georgia | News | DW | 01.12.2017
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Terrorism

Mastermind behind Istanbul airport attack 'blew himself up' in Georgia

The "one-armed" warlord suspected of organizing the airport attack that left 46 people dead "blew himself up," according to Georgian officials. The Chechen militant was considered a key extremist recruiter in Europe.

Georgia's State Security Service spokesman Nino Giorgobiano on Friday confirmed Chechen double-amputee Akhmed Chatayev, suspected of organizing a deadly attack at Istanbul's airport in 2016, was killed in a counterterrorism operation last week on the outskirts of the Georgian capital.

"As a result of a 20-hour special operation, two members of the criminal group were killed, whereas one individual, Akhmed Chatayev who was staying in the flat, blew himself up," Giorgobiano said.

Read more: Chatayev — The man behind the terror attack at Istanbul's airport

"[Chatayev's] identity has been confirmed as a result of an investigation and the analysis of DNA and fingerprints carried out with the help of our colleagues from the United States."

In June 2016, three men launched an attack at Istanbul's main airport, killing 46 people and wounding 200 others before detonating suicide vests strapped with explosives.

Akhmed Chatayev received asylum in Austria in 2003 after fleeing Russian authorities for his involvement in the second Chechen war

Chatayev received asylum in Austria in 2003 after fleeing Russia for his involvement in the second Chechen war

'One-armed' warlord

In the wake of the attack, authorities in Turkey and the US, including Turkish intelligence and an American lawmaker, said Chatayev was behind the attack, and even organized living arrangements for the bombers in Istanbul in the run-up to the operation.

Chatayev earned the nickname of the "one-armed warlord" before later losing a leg as well. He received asylum in Austria in 2003 after Russian authorities pursued him for his involvement in the second Chechen war at the turn of the century.

Read more: Opinion — Fighting terror with rights and freedom

He was arrested in Sweden in 2008 and spent a year in prison for possession of a weapon discovered in a vehicle he shared with other Chechens. He was long considered an important recruiter for extremists in Europe by intelligence agencies across the continent.

In 2015, he was placed on a terror black list by the UN Security Council and US Treasury for suspected ties to the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group and al Qaeda. While no group claimed responsibility for the Istanbul attack, Turkish authorities have blamed it on IS

ls/msh (dpa, AFP)

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