JERUSALEM (JTA) — A suicide bomber who killed three Israelis in an attack in Istanbul did not target the Israeli tour group, Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau has determined.
The attacker, who detonated himself on March 19 as the Israeli tour group left a restaurant in the major Turkish city, was attempting to disrupt tourism in general to Turkey, the bureau announced Sunday after a month-long investigation, the Associated Press reported. An Iranian national also was killed in the explosion. Two of the Israeli victims also held American citizenship.
Turkish media reported a day after the attack that the bomber followed the Israeli culinary tour group from their hotel to the restaurant, and waited until they were leaving the restaurant to detonate his explosives.
The bomber was identified as a Turkish citizen, Mehmet Ozturk, who was affiliated with the Islamic State. He reportedly spent two years in Syria before returning to Turkey illegally.
Following the attack, Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, which is part of the Prime Minister’s Office issued a travel warning calling on Israelis not to travel to Turkey. That warning remains in place.