A special Turkish court Tuesday released seven of the 18 suspected Islamic militants arrested in connection with last week's suicide bomb attack on a Masonic lodge in Istanbul. Three of the suspects were charged with belonging to or aiding an illegal terrorist organization and the remaining eight are still being interrogated. Istanbul governor Muammer Guler told a news conference in Istanbul that fresh suicide bomb attacks had been foiled as a result of the arrests. He said some of the detainees were known to have received military and political training in Afghanistan and Pakistan in camps that were "obviously" under the influence of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The governor said one of the militants confessed to last year's killing of a Jewish dentist in Istanbul and admitted he was preparing to stage an attack on a Turkish TV station partially financed by Jewish investors.
But Mr. Guler said it still remains to be determined whether any of the detainees were actual members of al-Qaida.
A special court on Tuesday charged three of the suspects with joining or aiding an illegal terrorist organization, and released seven others. The rest are still undergoing police interrogation.
The arrests followed last week's suicide bomb attack on a Masonic lodge in Istanbul that killed two people, including one of the assailants, and left several injured. A group affiliated with al-Qaida calling itself Soldiers of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility for both the Masonic lodge attack and last week's bombings in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
Turkish police are investigating possible links between the Istanbul blast and a wave of deadly suicide bomb attacks against British and Jewish targets also in Istanbul last November. Turkish investigators said those explosions, which claimed over 60 lives, were the work of al-Qaida.
Turkey has long been a target of the terrorist group because of its close ties with Europe, the United States and Israel and its strong support for the U.S.-led war on global terror.