Mastermind of Ankara blast escaped due to delayed intelligence: Report
AFP photoA pro-government newspaper in Turkey has claimed that the mastermind of the March 13 bomb attack in Ankara that killed at least 37 people was able to escape security officials in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa because two policemen in Ankara delayed communicating critical information. The report in daily Karar stated that both police officers were temporarily suspended from duty, while an investigation has been launched into their possible links with what the government calls the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)/Parallel State Structure (PDY).”
The third suicide attack that hit Turkey’s capital in five months was claimed by the outlawed Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ensuing investigations revealed that two suicide bombers were behind the blast, while the authorities believe the mastermind of the attack was Vahit Ayçil, who allegedly provided the explosives.
Karar reported on April 1 that Ayçil “narrowly escaped security officials” in Şanlıurfa, to which he fled after the attack, due to “delays in intelligence” being provided to related intelligence units.
According to the report, Ayçil rented a car from a rental company in Ankara on March 12. He then used the car to leave the capital on the night of the attack, arousing the suspicions of the car rental company’s owner, identified only by the initials B.G.
The report claimed that B.G. first sent text messages to Ayçil to remind him that he was not allowed to leave Ankara with the car according to the company’s rules. After receiving no response, B.G. informed the police of the incident, and even claimed that his customer’s behavior might be related to the explosion in Ankara’s Kızılay neighborhood.
However, police officers did not convey the information to the intelligence unit and instead asked B.G. to inform his neighborhood police station, the report added.
This “negligence” caused a five-hour delay in the investigation, according to the Karar report. Intelligence officials determined Ayçil’s identity at 10 a.m. on March 14, three hours after he entered Şanlıurfa.
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into the two police officers who answered B.G.’s call, on suspicions that they may be linked to the purported “FETÖ/PDY.” Both have since been suspended from duty.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies that the reason behind the rise in the number of security force deaths in Turkey’s southeast may be due to problems in intelligence caused by police and security officials sympathetic to the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-foe of the Turkish government.
“There may be intelligence weaknesses, and the reason for this is the members of this establishment. They cause problems in intelligence sharing, they mislead. Therefore the fight against ‘parallels’ is essential ... If there are problems in the fight against terror, we must do what is necessary about who causes it [the problem],” Erdoğan reportedly said.