Probe reveals ISIL planned massacre with microwave ovens in Istanbul shopping mall

Probe reveals ISIL planned massacre with microwave ovens in Istanbul shopping mall

Çetin Aydın - ISTANBUL
Probe reveals ISIL planned massacre with microwave ovens in Istanbul shopping mall

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) set up a three-phase bomb plan aiming to carry out a massacre at a shopping mall in Istanbul, according to Turkish anti-terror police.

Recent wide-scale anti-ISIL operations have revealed that members of the jihadist group planned to attack the Forum Istanbul mall and its parking lot in the Bayrampaşa district, before donning suicide vests and staging suicide attacks targeting people rushing to help victims of the two blasts.

Anti-terror police on Oct. 27 launched an operation after two consecutive explosions took place in two buildings in Istanbul’s Esenyurt and Arnavutköy districts, followed by fire.

Upon finding objects used in bomb making, including chemical materials, metal marbles, nails, a screw, a remote control, electronic circuits, cables, batteries and other materials at the two addresses, police determined that the apartments were used by ISIL militants preparing attacks.

One day later, police tracked four suspected ISIL militants linked to the explosions and found their car inside a mall’s parking lot in the Bayrampaşa district.

As the suspects started to move away from the car, police launched an operation and detained all four. One of the suspects was shot in the leg by police after trying to escape.

Bomb disposal units determined that the car was packed with explosives, while also finding a bomb-laden motorcycle.

A total of 66 home-made explosives with remote-control set ups were found in the two vehicles.

In the searches carried out inside the mall, police also found four microwave ovens filled with explosives, which had been placed inside safety deposits.

Due to the findings, the authorities were able to foil ISIL’s three-phase massacre plan.

According to police, ISIL militants bought microwave ovens from separate shops inside the mall. After stuffing them with explosives, they went back to the mall, telling security guards at the entrance that there was a problem with the ovens and therefore they wanted to return them.

Security guards of the mall then put the bomb-laden ovens inside safety deposits.

ISIL planned to detonate the bombs inside the ovens via remote control as part of the first step of their massacre plan, the authorities stated, adding that the second phase included detonating the explosives in the car and the motorcycle while people were trying to escape.

The final attack would have come after people rushed to help the victims of the blasts, with ISIL militants wearing suicide vests blowing themselves up inside the crowds.

Meanwhile, the investigations have also revealed that the explosions in Arnavutköy and Esenyurt were carried out by ISIL in order to divert the police’s attention.

Police targeted a number of jihadist cells in Istanbul after the incident, while also staging raids across Turkey and detaining dozens of suspected militants.

Two of those detained in the parking lot of the mall were determined to be a married couple of Turkish-origin Austrian citizens living in Arnavutköy for the past five years.