Twenty-five individuals, including the assailants Amirjon Kholikov and David Tanduev, have been detained following the armed attack on the Santa Maria Church in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district, which resulted in the death of Tuncer Cihan on 28 January.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office interrogated 34 suspects, including the attackers. Thirteen were accused of being members of an armed terrorist organisation, while 21 faced charges of premeditated murder and membership in an armed terrorist organisation.
Subsequently, 25 of the suspects were arrested by the on-duty magistrate and sent to prison. Nine others were released under judicial control.
In related developments, the prosecution’s arrest request highlighted that one of the suspects was a leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Turkey. The suspects, Kholikov and Tanduev, reportedly drove from Başakşehir, a district in Istanbul, to the church on the day of the attack. It was noted that their firearms malfunctioned during the attack, potentially preventing any further losses.
Further arrests linked to the case include Lusup Tsuroev, Movlat Tsuroeev and Andrei Guzun, with Guzun believed to be associated with Adam Abu-Darrar Al-Shishani, a supposed leader of ISIS in Turkey. Another suspect, Edelkhan Inazhaev, is connected to a 2016 attack at Atatürk Airport and was seeking to join ISIS in Syria. Zharaidat Esmurzieva was identified as the former spouse of an ISIS volunteer for a suicide bombing attack.
In a separate operation on 3 February, 12 individuals were detained in Istanbul, during a coordinated effort by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Intelligence Branch Directorate, and the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), targeting those linked to ISIS’ supposed Khorasan Province structure in Turkey. The operation also led to the seizure of significant amounts of cash and gold.