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Marco Rubio called the Istanbul airport attacks "ISIS-directed"

His comments went a step further than U.S. intelligence officials in blaming the terror organization

Washington CNN  — 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he believes the Istanbul airport attack was “ISIS-directed,” arguing that the terror group has long sought to attack Turkey.

“This has the markings of an ISIS attack – three gunmen with explosives targeting an airport,” the Florida Republican told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” Wednesday.

“The Turks believe it was ISIS. I think you saw from the President’s comments today that he basically believes it’s ISIS,” he said. “And while I’m not pointing to any intelligence to say that, I’m telling you that I believe it’s ISIS, as well – ISIS-directed, not just inspired – directed.”

That’s a step further than other U.S. officials have gone. CIA Director John Brennan, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, said the attack “certainly bears the hallmarks of ISIL’s depravity.”

Rubio said ISIS “has made it abundantly clear over a long period of time that they intend to strike within Turkey, and have been planning to do so for quite a while.”

He also predicted further ISIS attacks against the country, which borders Syria, an ISIS stronghold.

Rubio said success fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq will lead the terror organization to attempt to demonstrate its strength and influence by directing or inspiring more attacks outside the territory it controls.

“It is an easier target for them, a more permissive environment. And so sadly, I’m not surprised about what happened yesterday, and I anticipate you can see more efforts to do the same in the months to come,” Rubio said.

He added: “As their territorial gains are eroded in Iraq and Syria, they’re going to get more aggressive in their external operations – and again, I repeat, I think Turkey is going to be a key aspect of their targeting for months to come.”