Istanbul bomber registered in Turkey but not on wanted list

Turkey Detains 3 Russians Suspected of ISIS Ties

A suicide bomber who killed himself and 10 German tourists in Istanbul's historic heart had registered with Turkish immigration authorities but was not on any list of known militant suspects, Turkey's interior minister said on Wednesday.

The bomber, who authorities say is an Islamic State member recently arrived from Syria, blew himself up on Tuesday in Sultanahmet square near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, major tourist sites in one of the world's most visited cities.

READ EARLIER: Turkey detains three Russians suspected of Islamic State ties after Istanbul bomb

Asked about a report in the Turkish media that the bomber had registered at an immigration office in Istanbul a week ago, Interior Minister Efkan Ala confirmed that the man's fingerprints were on record with the Turkish authorities.

"Your assessment that his fingerprints were taken and there is a record of him is correct. But he was not on the wanted individuals list. And neither is he on the target individuals list sent to us by other countries," Ala told a joint news conference with his German counterpart Thomas de Maiziere.

The Haberturk newspaper published what it said was a CCTV image of the bomber, named in some local media as Saudi-born Nabil Fadli, at an Istanbul immigration office on Jan. 5.

It said he was identified by a sample of a finger taken from the blast site.

See more images from the deadly blast:

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Istanbul bomber registered in Turkey but not on wanted list
Members of Turkish medical association (TTB) stand after laying flowers in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet where at least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack, on January 12, 2016. / AFP / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere leaves flowers in tribute to the victims at the site of yesterday's attack in the city's tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 13, 2016 in Istanbul. Turkish authorities probed how a jihadist from Syria killed 10 mainly German tourists in an attack in the heart of Istanbul that raised alarm over security in the city. / AFP / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 13, 2016 shows flowers and a scarf of German football team Bayern Munchen in tribute to victims of January 12 deadly attack in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet. Turkey said on January 13, 2016 it had arrested one person in connection with a deadly suicide bombing that ripped through the historic heart of Istanbul, killing 10 German tourists and raising alarm over security in the country. / AFP / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and his wife Sare Davutoglu, together with German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere arrive to place flowers in tribute to the victims at the site of yesterday's attack in the city's tourist hub of Sultanahmet on January 13, 2016 in Istanbul. Turkish authorities probed how a jihadist from Syria killed 10 mainly German tourists in an attack in the heart of Istanbul that raised alarm over security in the city. / AFP / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 13: People leave roses for the ones who lost their lives in an attack at Sultanahmet square after it has been reopened to media and public in Istanbul, Turkey on January 13, 2016. A blast at Istanbuls Sultanahmet tourist district on Tuesday morning killed 10 people and wounded 15 others. A Syrian suicide bomber carried out Tuesdays attack in Istanbuls Sultanahmet tourist district, Turkeys president said. (Photo by Onur Ãoban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Turkish police block access to the Blue Mosque area on January 12, 2016 after a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet left 10 people dead. Ten people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack on January 12 in the main tourist hub of Turkey's largest city Istanbul, officials said. A powerful blast rocked the Sultanahmet neighbourhood which is home to Istanbul's biggest concentration of monuments and and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day. / AFP / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Ambulances gather around Sultanahmet tourist district after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey on January 12, 2016. Turkish police have sealed off central Istanbul square in historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion was heard. Ambulances raced to the scene in the minutes after the explosion. (Photo by Veli Gurgah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Ambulances gather around Sultanahmet tourist district after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey on January 12, 2016. Turkish police have sealed off central Istanbul square in historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion was heard. Ambulances raced to the scene in the minutes after the explosion. (Photo by Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: A wounded man is seen on the ground at the Sultanahmet tourist district after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey on January 12, 2016. Turkish police have sealed off central Istanbul square in historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion was heard. Ambulances raced to the scene in the minutes after the explosion. (Photo by Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: A dead body lies on the ground as police secure the area after an explosion in the central Istanbul Sultanahmet district on January 12, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing near tourists in the central Istanbul historic Sultanahmet district, which is home to world-famous monuments including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Turkish President Erdogan has stated that the suicide bomber was of Syrian origin. (Photo by Can Erok/Getty Images)
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Emergency responders work beside victims at the site of a blast in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, the city's main tourist hub, on January 12, 2016. Ten people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack on January 12 in the main tourist hub of Turkey's largest city Istanbul, officials said. A powerful blast rocked the Sultanahmet neighbourhood which is home to Istanbul's biggest concentration of monuments and and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Ambulances and police were despatched to the blast site after an explosion in the central Istanbul Sultanahmet district on January 12, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing near tourists in the central Istanbul historic Sultanahmet district, which is home to world-famous monuments including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Turkish President Erdogan has stated that the suicide bomber was of Syrian origin. (Photo by Can Erok/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Emergency services attend the scene after an explosion in the central Istanbul Sultanahmet district on January 12, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing near tourists in the central Istanbul historic Sultanahmet district, which is home to world-famous monuments including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Turkish President Erdogan has stated that the suicide bomber was of Syrian origin. (Photo by Elif Sogut/Getty Images)
Turkish police cordon off the Blue Mosque area on January 12, 2016 after a blast in Istanbul's tourist hub of Sultanahmet left 10 people dead. Ten people were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected terrorist attack on January 12 in the main tourist hub of Turkey's largest city Istanbul, officials said. A powerful blast rocked the Sultanahmet neighbourhood which is home to Istanbul's biggest concentration of monuments and and is visited by tens of thousands of tourists every day. / AFP / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Ambulances gather around Sultanahmet tourist district after an explosion in Istanbul, Turkey on January 12, 2016. Turkish police have sealed off central Istanbul square in historic Sultanahmet district after the explosion was heard. Ambulances raced to the scene in the minutes after the explosion. (Photo by Veli Gurgah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JANUARY 12: Ambulances and police were despatched to the blast site after an explosion in the central Istanbul Sultanahmet district on January 12, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing near tourists in the central Istanbul historic Sultanahmet district, which is home to world-famous monuments including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. Turkish President Erdogan has stated that the suicide bomber was of Syrian origin. (Photo by Can Erok/Getty Images)
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Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Tuesday the bomber had been identified from body parts at the scene. He was born in 1988 and was thought to have been living in Syria, from where he was believed to have recently entered Turkey.

Ten Germans were killed in the bombing, a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said, raising the death toll among Germans from 9 previously. Five more are in intensive care.

Turkey, which like Germany is a member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has become a target for the radical Sunni militants.

It was hit by two major bombings last year blamed on the group, in the largely Kurdish town of Suruc near the Syrian border and in the capital Ankara, the latter killing more than 100 people at a pro-Kurdish rally in the worst attack of its kind on Turkish soil.

The Istanbul attack, targeting groups of tourists as they wandered around the square, appeared to mark a change in Islamic State's tactics against Turkey.

This incident is a bit different. In previous attacks, it was Turks who crossed into Syria to fight Kurds and then crossed back to attack Kurdish targets," said Aaron Stein, senior fellow at Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

"It's different in terms of intentions and in terms of its targets," he told Reuters.

GERMANS NOT DELIBERATE TARGET

Foreign tourists and Turks paid their respects at the site early on Wednesday. Scarves with the Bayern Munich soccer club emblem were left along with carnations and roses at the scene, before Turkish police sealed off the area.

De Maiziere said there were no indications Germans had been deliberately targeted and that he saw no reason for people to change travel plans to Turkey. He said Germany stood resolutely by Turkey's side in the fight against terrorism.

"If the terrorists aimed to disturb, destroy or jeopardize cooperation between partners, they achieved the opposite. Germany and Turkey are becoming even closer," he said, adding there was no link to Germany's contribution to the fight against terrorism.

The guide of the German group was quoted by Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper as saying she had yelled "run" after seeing the bomber, who was standing among the tourists, pull a pin on his explosives, enabling some of them to get away.

Witnesses said the square was not packed at the time of the explosion, but that several groups of tourists were there.

"I didn't finish the tour, you know, the tour I had bought. I suppose there is something remaining of the ticket," said Jostein Nielsen, a wounded Norwegian tourist, as he waited on a stretcher at Istanbul airport, his left leg bandaged.

"I still have to go to the Blue Mosque and the old Turkish Bazaar, so I have to use that ticket ... We have no hard feelings toward Turkey. We know there are some mad people out there," he said.

RUSSIAN DETENTIONS

Ala said nine other Germans were wounded in the blast, along with the Norwegian and one Peruvian. He vowed to work closely with Germany in investigating the attack.

One person was detained late on Tuesday as part of the investigation, Ala said, but gave no details. He defended Turkey's record in fighting Islamic State, saying 200 suspects had been detained just a week before the blast.

Turkey has rounded up hundreds of suspected Islamic State members since launching what it called a "synchronized war on terror" last July, raids which continued on Wednesday.

Since the attack, police have detained a total of 65 people including 16 foreign nationals in six Turkish cities, the Dogan news agency reported.

The Russian foreign ministry confirmed three of those detained were Russian nationals, but it was not immediately clear whether there was any connection to the Istanbul attack, for which there has been no claim of responsibility.

Ala said Turkey had detained 3,318 people for suspected links to Islamic State and other radical groups since Syria's conflict began. Of that number, 847 were subsequently arrested, most of them foreigners.

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