Istanbul church attack suspect previously arrested for ISIS airport attack

Edelkhan Inazhaev, who was captured in the operation against the suspects in relation to Istanbul’s fatal church attack, had also been arrested as a suspect after the ISIS’s Ataturk Airport bomb attack in 2016.

Duvar English

According to the prosecutor's report on the recent attack at Santa Maria Church in Istanbul, Edelkhan Inazhaev, who was caught as a suspect after the attack, was also a suspect in the bomb attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport carried out by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2016.

Some 25 of 34 suspects detained in the investigation conducted by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office were arrested while nine suspects were released under judicial control measures.

According to the prosecutor's office, Inazhaev and his wife were considered to be in connection with David Tanduev, one of the attackers, and the ISIS cells in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district.  

In the digital materials seized from Inazhaev, images of the foreign-registered car used in the attack were also found. 

The prosecutor's office also stated that he was arrested in 2016 in connection with the bombing and armed attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.

ISIS killed 45 five people and injured more than 230 in its attack against Istanbul's Atatürk Airport.

The report also underscored that there was information about Inazhaev that he had relations with many ISIS members and that his wife Zharaidat Esmurzieva "volunteered to join ISIS to carry out suicide bombings.”

During the preliminary examination of Inazhaev's digital materials, pictures of people believed to be ISIS members, the flag and march of the organization, bomb-making materials, and pictures of the bomb construction process were also found.

Khorasan Group of ISIS establishes cells in Istanbul

Prior to the attack, the police and the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) arrested 47 people in several operations in November and December, 2023. It was reported that these suspects were linked to ISIS's Khorasan Group.

The area includes Afghanistan, eastern Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and parts of Pakistan, from which some of the organizers of the latest attack came to Turkey.

Turkish police on Feb. 3 detained 17 more suspects in an operation against the Khorasan Group.

Prior to the attack on the Santa Maria Church, the authorities found was evidence during operations that ISIS cells had planned to target places of worship in and around the Istanbul’s historical Greek neighborhood of Balat.

On the phone of one of the suspects caught after the attack, location pictures of famous Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Beyoğlu were found along with ISIS materials. It was evaluated that this church could also be one of the targets.

Tuncer Cihan lost his life in the armed attack at Santa Maria Church on Jan. 28 . It was noted that the attackers panicked and fled because their weapons jammed and a bigger attack did not take place.