Karlov’s assassin bypassed security with police ID
AP PhotoThe man who killed Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov on Dec. 19 at an arts center in Ankara was admonished by security personnel at the entrance to the venue after he refused to proceed through an X-ray device but was subsequently granted entry after he showed his police ID, according to the local municipality.
The assailant, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, was warned by security personnel when he refused to go through the X-ray device for a check but was later allowed in as he showed his police ID.
Altıntaş also took a leave of absence on Dec. 19 and booked a hotel in order to plan the attack.
Altıntaş stayed at a hotel close to the scene of the incident, according to initial investigations. Police sealed his hotel room, number 214, after the attack, Anadolu Agency reported.
As the time approached before Karlov’s speech at the opening of a photography exhibition, Altıntaş shaved and dressed before leaving the hotel to walk to the exhibition.
Altıntaş took 11 shots, nine of them targeting the envoy, according to security footage obtained from the scene. Nine bullets hit Karlov’s body, although officials believe two bullets might have gone through his body.
Clashes erupted when security forces called on him to surrender.
“Surrender, drop your weapon and we will get you out of here,” the police shouted, which was rejected by the assailant.
“I won’t leave this place alive and I haven’t arrived here to get out alive,” he replied.
The attacker reportedly shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! As long as our brothers are not safe, you will not enjoy safety,” according to footage released on Dutch website nos.nl.
“Whoever has a share in this oppression will pay for it one by one,” he added.
“Only death will take me away from here,” he said. He also recited “God is great” before speaking in Turkish.
Meanwhile, Altıntaş reportedly cased the Contemporary Arts Center three days before the attack. He arrived at the center on Dec. 16 with the same police badge and suit, daily Sözcü reported.
“Our friends saw the same person in the exhibition on Dec. 16. They remembered him after the attack. He attended the exhibition and then left. Of course no one got suspicious,” said Timur Özkan, the coordinator of the exhibition, who gave a speech before Karlov was killed.
“Our guess is that he came here to case the area beforehand,” he added.
Born on June 24, 1994, in the Söke district of the western province of Aydın, Altıntaş entered the Rüştü Ünsal Police College in the western province of İzmir in 2012 and graduated from high school in 2014. He started to work as a riot police officer after graduating and had been working as a police officer for two-and-a-half years in Ankara.
Elsewhere, six suspects were detained after the assassination, Doğan News Agency reported.
Police initially detained five people on Dec. 19, including İsrafil Altıntaş, the father of the attacker and his mother, Hamidiye, as well as his sister Seher Altıntaş, who were living in Söke.
On Dec. 20 police also detained Altıntaş’s uncle, who had been working at a now-closed school allegedly linked to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen in the Kuşadası district, but he was later released.
Furthermore, police have found books related to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and al-Qaeda in a search at Altıntaş’s house in the Keçiören district of Ankara. Police sealed the apartment that he was living in, Anadolu Agency reported.
Meanwhile, details of Altıntaş’s actions after the July 15 failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by FETÖ, have also started to emerge.
Altıntaş reportedly took a report of absence for two days after the thwarted coup, even though all police officers were called to duty after July 15.
He was on duty in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on July 15, but arrived in Ankara on July 16 after obtaining a leave of absence. He stayed in a house in the Demetevler district of the Turkish capital, daily Habertürk reported.
The police chief who allowed him to take the leave of absence, Kahraman Sezer, was arrested after the failed coup attempt over links to the Gülenists.
Altıntaş shot Karlov while the latter was making a speech at the photography exhibition. Altıntaş was eventually shot dead by police at the scene.