The mastermind of Tuesday’s Istanbul airport massacre appears to be a one-armed Chechen terrorist who trained Russian-speaking militants, had a long history of supporting terror and was known as “Akhmed One-Arm,” according to several government documents and regional media reports.
Akhmed Chatayev was identified by the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper as the organizer of the coordinated assault, which killed 44 and wounded more than 200 others at Turkey’s Ataturk Airport. Turkish officials did not immediately confirm he was involved in the attack, and it was unclear if Chatayev was one of the airport bombers, in custody or on the run.
Authorities said all information suggested the airport assault was the work of ISIS and, despite no claim of responsibility for the attack, Chatayev’s involvement would show an ISIS link.
Chatayev had been designated in October as a terrorist by both the U.S. Treasury Department and UN Security Council for supporting ISIS. The Treasury report identified Chatayev as a member of “a group of militants that was planning attacks against U.S. and Turkish facilities” and the UN report said Chatayev “directly commands 130 militants” and was the “organizer and mastermind of planned” terror acts against Russian interests abroad.
He’s described as appearing in numerous videos in 2014 and 2015 in which he associated with other members of ISIS and greeted extremists in Dagestan.
Chatayev began his extremist activities as a Chechen rebel fighting the Russians in the mid-to-late 1990s, according to numerous news organizations in the region. He was allegedly wounded in battle and captured, winding up in a Russian prison where he claimed he was brutally tortured. It’s during this time Chatayev is believed to have lost the lower portion of his right arm, though it’s unclear if it was cut off for punishment or amputated for medical reasons.
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