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November 20, 2003
Turks In The Crosshairs Again

Blasts rocked Istanbul in another twin set of bombings this morning, killing at least 15 and injuring hundreds in attacks aimed at British interests:

Two blasts have rocked Istanbul, killing at least 15 people and devastating both the HSBC Bank headquarters and British consulate in an apparent suicide attack the government has linked to Islamist militants. Turkish television, quoting city health officials, said that besides the 15 killed, 320 people were injured.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the strikes on Thursday bore "all the hallmarks of the international terrorism operations practised by al Qaeda and associated organisations".

While Turkey has strong Western connections and is the only Islamic democracy operating in the Middle East, it is ruled by an Islamist party at the moment, making Turkey an odd target, especially since Turkey refused to militarily support the Coalition, inflicting an embarrassing diplomatic setback to George Bush just weeks after Bush faced down France over the issue of deploying defensive forces to protect Turkey. Islamic terrorists bombing buildings and killing Muslims in Turkey will not endear Turkey's voters to Islamist political parties. Nor will bombing the British convince Britons to pull out of the war on terror; it's likely to inflame public opinion more towards fighting Islamofascism.

Although it's often hinted at, no one is really talking about the sharp change of focus that al-Qaeda has made of late. No one wants to assume that they've completely lost the ability to launch complicated and more destructive attacks outside their own back yard, but there's little other explanation to their sudden desire to blow up Muslims in Middle East territory. As I posted yesterday, the smaller scale and the restricted geography of these attacks points towards success in the war against al-Qaeda by all countries involved, even the "weasels". But we may see attacks like these for some time while we continue to roll up their operations.

UPDATE: Power Line has links to some photos. Not for young eyes.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 20, 2003 5:54 AM

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