Turkey court delays verdict on Istanbul bombing that killed Germans

A Turkish court has postponed the verdict in a terrorism trial stemming from a bomb blast that killed 12 German tourists in Istanbul. The suicide bomber who allegedly committed the attack was a Saudi-born Syrian refugee.

Judges in Istanbul on Monday postponed the verdict of atrial involving 26 people and their alleged links with the deadly Istanbul bombing at the city's Sultanahmet Square in January 2016. The judges scheduled the next hearing for January 8.

Prosecutors demanded life sentences for three of the accused who were allegedly involved in preparing the attack, while asking for a 15-year prison term for one other. The remaining detainee was released on Monday, in line with prosecutors' request. Another 21 are being tried in absentia.

Authorities had identified the suicide bomber as 28-year-old Syrian citizen Nabil Fadli. The attacker was born in Saudi Arabia, reportedly to a family with Turkmen background, but emigrated to Syria as a child. He had entered Turkey from Syria and requested asylum about a month before the attack.

Read more: Blast hits major tourist district Sultanahmet

Turkish police secured the area after the deadly explosion in the central Istanbul Sultanahmet district

What happened in the attack?

  • According to the Turkish authorities, Fadli approached a group of German tourists at Istanbul's busy Sultanahmet Square, home to the iconic Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
  • He then detonated his explosive device, killing 12 Germans
  • Nearly all of the German victims were pensioners.
  • Over a dozen more people, most of them foreign visitors, were injured.

Read more: Turkish media reports that Istanbul bomber was registered as a refugee

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there was "no indication" that the attacker specifically targeted Germans.

Turkish officials blamed "Islamic State" (IS) militants for the attack, although the group itself did not take responsibility. Scores of suspects were detained in the wake of the attack, including three Russian citizens in Antalya on suspicions of links with IS.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

Where did it come from?

The "Islamic State" (IS) — also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh — is an al-Qaida splinter group with a militant Sunni Islamist ideology. It emerged in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Their goal is to create a worldwide "caliphate." It gained worldwide notoriety in 2014 after a blitzkrieg military campaign that resulted in the capture of Mosul.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

Where does it operate?

IS is believed to be operational in more than a dozen countries across the world. It controls territories in Iraq and Syria. However, the group has lost much of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria at the height of its expansion in 2014.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

Who is fighting back?

The US leads an international coalition of more than 50 countries, including several Arab nations. Russia, Iran and its Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah, which all support the Syrian government, also fight IS. Regional forces such as the Kurdish peshmerga (above) and US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, fight IS on the ground. The Iraqi army and militia have pushed IS from large parts of the country.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

How does it fund itself?

One of IS' main sources of income has been oil and gas. At one point, it controlled an estimated one-third of Syria's oil production. However, US-led airstrikes deliberately targeted oil resources and the Syrian government as well as US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters have retaken most oil wells. Other means of income include taxes, ransom, selling looted antiquities and extortion.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

Where does it carry out attacks?

IS has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks across the globe. The militant group has targeted capitals across the EU, including Berlin, Brussels and Paris. IS leaders have encouraged so-called "lone wolf" attacks, whereby individuals who support IS carry out terrorist acts without the direct involvement of the group.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

What other tactics does it use?

The group uses various tactics to expand its power. IS fighters have looted and destroyed historical artifacts in Syria and Iraq in an attempt at "cultural cleansing." The group has also enslaved thousands of women from religious minority groups, including Yazidis. IS also uses a sophisticated social network to distribute propaganda and recruit sympathizers.

What is the 'Islamic State'?

How has it impacted the region?

IS has further exacerbated the ongoing Syrian conflict. Millions of Syrians and Iraqis have fled their homes, many traveling to Europe in pursuit of refuge. Although it has lost all of its strongholds, the militant group has left extraordinary destruction in its wake. Areas affected by the militant group's rule will likely take years to rebuild.

dj/ls (dpa)

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