Turkey (MNN) — Tuesday evening, three suicide bombers attacked the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. They killed 41 people and injured 239 others.
The bombers exchanged gunfire with police at the airport’s terminal. They then detonated their explosives, ripping into populated areas of the terminal and parking lot.
Rex Rogers with SAT-7 says, “This is a major airport. Istanbul airport is a huge airport. I’ve been through it many times and a number of our staff at SAT-7 travel regularly through Istanbul airport. One did just last week! We have a studio right there in Istanbul with our own Turkish employees.”
This is just the latest in a string of terror attacks in Turkey over the past year. Several other bombings in the nation have been credited to ISIS and Kurdish militants.
“Turkey has always been a strategically located country. Historically before modern Turkey, and of course now, it’s ‘East meets West’ and it’s still that way,” says Rogers.
“For the last 100 years approximately, Turkey has been a Muslim nation, but at the same time has operated on a somewhat secular basis on the level of government. So it’s not quite the same as many other Middle Eastern countries…. Then it becomes a target, and of course it’s right next door to Syria with all the conflict there.”
While no extremist groups have claimed responsibility so far, Turkish security forces indicate these suicide bombers have the telltale signs of ISIS militants. And if so, this sends a clear message to the rest of the world on ISIS’ increasingly aggressive intentions.
The clashes with ISIS fighters in various parts of Europe and the Middle East are challenging because national governments aren’t just fighting another country. They are combating an amorphous organization fueled by the philosophy of Islamic extremism and expressed in guerrilla war tactics.
“It’s about terror, it’s about hitting soft targets, places where it’s easy to get into with a lot of people and a lot of human casualty. It’s about scaring people and basically killing, violence. It’s a philosophy of hate…. It’s very difficult for any organized government and military, whatever their philosophy, to combat this.”
In Middle Eastern countries with a Muslim extremist group presence, anybody who does not ascribe to extremist ideology is vulnerable to attack. This makes Christian ministry in those countries especially difficult. Believers are forced to be cautiously creative in their witness.
SAT-7 is involved in creative outreaches to the Middle East and North Africa, says Rogers. “We’re a broadcast media so we’re beaming in. But even we don’t talk on air a lot about conversion specifically and evangelism, because in the culture there it causes people to turn off the programming. We’d rather present the Word of God…and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work.
“There are more Middle Easterners accepting Christ now than maybe anytime in the last several hundred years. So there is an openness to the Gospel and there is change. And that’s the only thing that’s going to change the future of the Middle East is the heart.”
Please lift up the Turkish people in prayer, as well as family and friends of those killed or hurt in this attack.
Rogers asks, “Pray for people’s safety, pray for their protection, pray that the Lord will turn evil to good. Certainly one thing we need to continue to remember to do is lift up people in prayer.”