ISIS witnesses should have been suspects Ankara bombing case - lawyer

Four female members of the Islamic State (ISIS), who testified as witnesses in the latest hearing of the 2015 Ankara bombing case, should have been suspects in the trial, lawyer Senem Doğanoğlu told daily BirGün on Monday.  

"Two of these women were on the list of ISIS suicide bombers," said Doğanoğlu, who is a member of the commission of lawyers for the case.

The four women have not provided any new information on ISIS, Doğanoğlu said, but were nonetheless allowed to take advantage of Turkey’s amnesty laws, which allow for reduced sentencing in return for contributing to the solution of the case or compensation of the victims of the crime.

"These are not women who followed their husbands like they claim," the lawyer added. "On the contrary, they stayed within the organisation and obeyed ISIS, they fought together with their husbands until the last bastion fell."

A total of 109 civilians were killed and 500 were injured when two bombers belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) blew themselves up in the midst of a crowd made up largely of leftists and Kurdish sympathisers on Oct. 10, 2015, making it the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history.

The four women who have served as witnesses in the case are Hülya Balı, Şengül Büyükçelebi, Ayşenur İnci and Demet Taşar.

Balı’s husband İlhami Balı, the Turkey officer for ISIS, and Şengül Büyükçelebi’s husband Deniz Büyükçelebi, the ISIS officer responsible for border crossings between Turkey and Syria, remain on the Interpol’s red notice list, but are rumoured to be dead.

Ayşenur İnci and Demet Taşar are on the Interpol wanted list themselves, as ISIS suicide bombers.

Balı was captured in a Turkish intelligence operation in 2018, and spent 16 months in prison. She continued to live in Raqqa and Deir ez Zor until the last days of ISIS control in the region. She was sentenced by a Turkish court to six years and three months in prison, but the ruling was overturned after she petitioned for amnesty.

Büyükçelebi was captured in 2018. In her testimony, she admitted to hosting foreigners in her home while her husband was involved in trafficking for ISIS. She spoke about ISIS activities and the internal hierarchy of the organisation during her testimony, but did not identify anybody except for already-known ISIS members. She spent four years at the Syrian border, aiding her husband in his trafficking efforts.

İnci, the wife of fugitive ISIS suspect Ersel Ocak, was wanted by the Turkish interior ministry, with a $250,000 bounty. She surrendered to Turkish security forces in December 2018 at the Iraqi border, and was charged with membership to a terrorist organisation to face up to 15 years in prison. İnce was released with no prison sentence upon her appeal based on the Turkish amnesty laws. 

Taşar, wife of fugitive ISIS suspect Mehmet Taşar, was also wanted with a $250,000 bounty placed on her. She was captured during a border crossing to Syria in Ceylanpınar, Şanlıurfa and was released on parole, later taking advantage of amnesty laws.