TURKEY: On 11 Aug, Turkish courts charged a suspected terrorist with plotting to use a speedboat packed with explosives to attack Israeli cruise ships. Reports quote the suspected terrorist, a Syrian national, as saying “I wanted to attack Israeli cruise ships in the open seas without harming Turkish civilians. I have no regrets.” On 05 Aug, Israel’s transport ministry diverted four Israeli cruise ships bound for Alanya, Turkey, after Turkish Police discovered the alleged plot while investigating a suspicious apartment fire. The apartment fire,
located in Antalya, Turkey, aroused suspicions after a sharp smell of chemicals began spreading in the vicinity of the fire. Police said they found incriminating evidence, including the suspect’s passport. As a result of the recent Turkish anti-terror efforts, the Israeli Counter Terrorism Bureau downgraded its Turkey terror warning (LM, FP, REUTERS).
More on the suspect:
Defense lawyer Ilhami Sayan told reporters the suspect, identified in the Turkish media as Lu’ai Sakra, was charged with membership in an illegal organization. He was arrested on Aug. 6, Turkish media said.More here.
Police said Sakra is also suspected as a go-between for al-Qaida and Turkish extremists responsible for the 2003 bombings of two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank. The bombings killed some 60 people. He also is suspected of having helped the bombing masterminds flee the country...
...“I have no regrets,” Sakra shouted to journalists from a window after he was led into the courthouse. “I was going to attack Israeli ships. If they come, my friends will attack them.”
“I had prepared a ton of explosives,” he added in a barely audible voice.
He also shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before officials pulled him back and closed the window. He spoke in Turkish with an Arabic accent.
A police official said Sakra was planning to attack Israeli cruise ships with speedboats packed with explosives. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because only top officials are allowed to speak on the record without prior authorization.
Police suspect Sakra was still in contact with al-Qaida operatives planning future attacks.
As Sakra left the courthouse, he shouted: “I was planning an attack in open seas. Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar.”
Another defense lawyer, Osman Karahan, said authorities caught his client with 1,650 pounds of explosives.
“He was planning to hit Israeli ships in international waters with these explosives,” CNN-Turk quoted Karahan as saying.
Update: Earlier post involving terrorists and small explosive-laden boats.
Update2: Israel lifts security-related warning against travel to Turkey as reported here:
Turkey is a top vacation spot for Israelis, with more than 300,000 visiting each year. Five cruise ships carrying some 5,000 Israeli tourists have been diverted from Turkish ports to Cyprus in recent days following reports that an attack was imminent. On Monday, Israel urged its citizens not to visit Turkish beach resorts.
Turkish police said the man brought to court Thursday was also believed to have acted as a mediator between Al-Qaida and Turkish extremists responsible for the bombings of two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul in 2003. He also is believed to have helped the masterminds of the attacks, which killed more than 60 people, flee the country.
Police believe that the Syrian was still in contact with Al-Qaida operatives planning future attacks.