2003 Istanbul bombings
The 2003 Istanbul bombings were four truck bomb attacks carried out on November 15, 2003 and November 20, 2003, in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, leaving 57 people dead, and 700 wounded. Several men have been convicted for their involvement.

First bombings

On November 15, 2003, two trucks carrying bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

s slammed into the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom
Neve Shalom Synagogue
Neve Shalom Synagogue, , is a synagogue located in the Galata district of Istanbul, Turkey.The synagogue was built in response to an increase in the Jewish population in the old Galata neighborhood in the late 1930s. A Jewish primary school was torn down in 1949 for that purpose and the synagogue...

 synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and exploded. The explosions devastated the synagogues and killed twenty-seven people, most of them Turkish Muslims, and injured more than 300 others. Six Jews were among the dead. An Islamic militant group, IBDA-C, claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Turkish government officials dismissed these claims, pointing out that this minor group did not have enough resources to carry out such an intricately planned and expensive attack.

Second bombings

Five days later, on November 20, as US President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 was in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, two more truck bombs exploded. Suicide bombers detonated the vehicles at the headquarters of HSBC Bank AS
HSBC Bank (Turkey)
HSBC Bank A.Ş., the Turkey subsidiary of the HSBC Group, is a bank with its head office in Istanbul.-History:HSBC Bank A.Ş. was established as Midland Bank A.Ş. in 1990. It was the subsidiary of Midland Bank and was renamed HSBC Bank A.Ş. in 1999. In October 2001, HSBC Bank A.Ş...

 and the British Consulate, killing thirty people and wounding 400 others. The bombers appeared to have waited for the traffic lights in front of the HSBC headquarters to turn red to maximize the effects. Several Britons were killed in the two attacks, including the top British official in Istanbul, consul general Roger Short
Roger Short
Roger Short MVO was a veteran British diplomat who was killed on 20 November 2003 in a truck bombing in Istanbul while serving as the British Consul-General in Turkey...

, but most of the victims were Turkish Muslims (such as actor and singer Kerem Yılmazer
Kerem Yilmazer
Muhittin Kerem Yılmazer was a Turkish actor and singer who was killed in a terrorist car bombing in Istanbul.-External links:...

), as in the earlier synagogue blasts. Police say that the bombers may have timed the attacks to coincide with Bush's visit to the UK.


Turkey charged 74 people with involvement in the bombings, including Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

ns Loai al-Saqa
Loai al-Saqa
A Syrian member of al-Qaeda, Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa was convicted of masterminding and financing the 2003 Istanbul bombings, and in February 2007, was sentenced to life imprisonment without any chance of parole by the Turkish courts....

 and Hamid Obysi, and a Turk, Harun Ilhan. Ilhan admitted that he and two other suspected ringleaders — Habib Akdas and Gurcan Bac — were responsible; Ilhan referred to himself as ‘an al-Qaeda warrior'. Akdas fled to Iraq, where he was reportedly involved in a kidnapping, and was later killed by coalition forces in Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....

. Bac's location remains undetermined. Other reporting indicates that Bac was suspected of preparing the bombs with Fevzi Yitiz, and that Akdas and Ibrahim Kus participated in a meeting with bin Laden in 2002. Al-Saqa had already been tried in absentia in Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 for his part, along with al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a popular name for the Iraqi division of the international Salafi jihadi militant organization al-Qaeda. It is recognized as a part of the greater Iraqi insurgency....

 leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ; October 30, 1966 – June 7, 2006), born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh was a Jordanian militant Islamist who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan...

, in the failed poison gas attack
2000 millennium attack plots
The Year 2000 attack plots were terrorist attacks planned to occur on or near January 1, 2000: the bombing of four sites in Jordan, the bombing of Los Angeles International Airport , and the bombing of the USS The Sullivans. The first two plots were foiled by law enforcement agencies; the third was...

 in 2002. On February 16, 2007, Al-Saqa and Ilhan were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

, as were five other Turkish men convicted of organizing the bombing: Fevzi Yitiz (for helping to build the truck bombs) and Yusuf Polat, Baki Yigit, Osman Eken and Adnan Ersoz. Seyit Ertul was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment for leading an al-Qaeda cell, and Obysi was sentenced to 12 years and six months for al-Qaeda membership, forgery and bomb-making. Of the other individuals who were charged, 29 were sentenced to six years and three months for membership in al-Qaeda, 10 were sentenced to three years and nine months for aiding and abetting al-Qaeda, and 26 were acquitted.
A Turkish intelligence official who was part of the investigation said: "They planned and carried out the attack independently after receiving the blessing of bin Laden."


 Turkey — Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been Prime Minister of Turkey since 2003 and is chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party , which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Erdoğan served as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He graduated in 1981 from Marmara...

 vowed to defeat the terrorists. "The goal of these attacks is doomed to be destroyed in the face of the government's determination... and international solidarity in fighting terrorism," he said. Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu said suicide bombers caused the explosions. Of the injured, four were in critical condition and 15 others were undergoing surgery, Istanbul health officials said. Sky Turk reporter Mustafa Azizoglu told Fox News "this is not an ordinary attack," and said "this is the eleventh of September for Istanbul."
The explosions were "trying to target Western financial institutions," he added. Turkish authorities said the same groups were behind Saturday's nearly simultaneous synagogue bombings in Istanbul, which killed 23 people and the two attackers. Turkish media reported the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, but the governor's office said only that attackers blew up explosive-laden pickup trucks.

 United States — U.S. State Department knows of no Americans killed or hurt in the blast. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said three or four British employees from the consulate had not reported to roll call following the blasts.

Marc Ginsberg
Marc Ginsberg
Marc Charles Ginsberg has served as US ambassador to Morocco from 1994-1998, Deputy Senior Adviser to the President of the United States for Middle East Policy , Legislative Assistant to Senator Edward Kennedy , CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Al Arabiya, CBC and Fox News, contributor, and is currently the senior...

, a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, told Fox News that two domestic Islamic militant groups - the Great Eastern Raiders' Front and Kurdish Hezbollah
Kurdish Hezbollah
Hizbullah , often referred to as the Turkish Hezbollah or Kurdish Hezbollah , to avoid confusion with the completely unrelated Lebanese Shi'a group called Hezbollah, is a Kurdish Sunni Islamist militant organization, active against the Government of Turkey...

, or Party of God (not affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah, but rather a group originally supported by the Turkish state as a rival to the Kurdish PKK, a secular Kurdish separatist movement) - were increasing activities in Turkey. "These are local affiliates, more or less, of the Al Qaeda network," Ginsberg said. "These organizations apparently have resurrected themselves in Turkey in recent months and these are the organizations that are doing the dirty work of Al Qaeda in Turkey."

As the holy month of Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 comes to a close, "Al Qaeda franchise organizations are trying to show their strength," he added. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday's attacks "appear to be in the method of operation or the operational style of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda operatives or affiliates." "We are deeply distressed over this assault on the liberty, live and security of individuals in Turkey," Ashcroft said. "It is quite clear that terrorism is very, very active at this moment and at this time, but it has been active since September 11(attacks) ...we should make no mistake that somehow terrorism is abating."

 Israel — "One can hardly imagine a more tragic, violent and cruel attack than to simultaneously go after two places of worship on the Sabbath in order to kill a maximum amount of people who are busy praying and worshipping their God," said Daniel Shek, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom extended his condolences to Turkey and the Turkish people, the Jewish community in Turkey, and the families of the killed, and sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured in today’s terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Turkey.

 Syria — Syria strongly condemned the bomb attacks, calling them "terrorist". Syrian Information Minister, Ahmad al-Hassan, expressed his country's solidarity with Turkey, referring to the latter as "a neighbouring state and friend". Syria also gave to the Turkish authorities 22 suspects in the bombing, who had reportedly fled Turkey after the attack.

 United Nations — The United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 adopted Resolution 1516
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1516
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1516, adopted unanimously on November 20, 2003, after reaffirming the principles of the United Nations Charter and Resolution 1373 , the Council condemned the bombings in Istanbul, Turkey on November 15 and 20, 2003.The Security Council reaffirmed the need...

 on November 20, 2003, condemning the attacks and expressing sympathy to the families of the victims and to the British and Turkish governments.

See also

  • 1999 Istanbul bombings
    1999 Istanbul bombings
    The 1999 Istanbul bombings were a pair of bombings that took place in Istanbul, Turkey on March 13 killing 13, and March 14, 1999 injuring 2. A third bomb was found in a Burger King outlet but successfully defused....

  • 2008 Istanbul bombings
    2008 Istanbul bombings
    The 2008 Istanbul bombings occurred on July 27, 2008 when two explosions hit a busy shopping street in the Güngören district of Istanbul, killing seventeen people, five of them children, and injuring 154. The attacks occurred at 9:45 p.m. local time, 18:45 UTC, on a pedestrian street closed to...

  • List of terrorist incidents, 2003
  • Al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

External links

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