TBILISI – An alleged Chechen terrorist who committed suicide during a police operation in Georgia last month is suspected of being one of the masterminds behind an attack on Istanbul’s airport that left 45 dead last year, the Georgian security service (SSSG) said on Friday.
DNA tests allowed security forces to identify Akhmed Chatayev, who detonated a bomb during a counter-terror operation in Tbilisi on Nov. 22, said SSSG spokesperson Nino Gorgobiani.
“In the framework of the investigation, it is being determined how the members of the mentioned criminal group crossed the border of Georgia, and activities are being conducted to establish possible linkages with other criminal individuals,” said an SSSG statement.
The 20-hour operation had left three alleged terrorists and one security agent dead.
Chatayev had in the past joined Chechen separatist ranks against Russian forces and then fled to Europe, where he joined the Islamic State terror organization.
He is suspected of having helped organize the July 28, 2016 terror attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, in which 45 people died and 239 were injured.
Chatayev was named as a possible organizer of the attack in a report that cited United States Congressman Mike McCaul, who is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.