ISIL, PKK, Syria intelligence behind Ankara bombing, Erdoğan says
AFP photoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated Turkey’s belief that the 10 October Ankara Massacre was committed by a medley of mutually antagonistic entities, including extreme jihadists and Kurdish militants.
“[The Ankara bombing] totally is a collective terrorist act, in which Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL], the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party], the Mukhabarat [Syria’s military intelligence] and the PYD [Democratic Union Party] in northern Syria each played a role,” Erdoğan said Oct. 22 at a gathering of the Confederation of Righteous Trade Unions (HAK-İŞ), a right-wing trade union.
Erdoğan said the Ankara bombing had shown how terrorist acts were committed collectively and slammed those who said ISIL was behind the deadly blasts, which sent shockwaves through the country after killing at least 102 civilians and wounding hundreds of others ahead of a peace rally in downtown Ankara on Oct. 10.
Families and loved ones of those killed have blamed the government for gross negligence in allowing the attack to occur, while the opposition has scoffed at suggestions that ISIL and the PKK conducted the attack together given their battle against each other in Iraq and Syria.
Erdoğan’s remarks came less than a week after one of the suicide bombers in the Ankara twin blasts was identified as Yunus Emre Alagöz, an ISIL militant, according to a written statement released by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the prosecutor’s office heading the investigation into the deadly blasts.
Identified by DNA tests, Alagöz is the brother of another ISIL militant, Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, the perpetrator of the Suruç bombing that killed 33 and wounded more than 100 in late July in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.
About three weeks after the deadly Suruç bombing attack, 30 ready-to-use suicide vests were seized in the country in anti-terror operations against ISIL, Turkish officials told Hürriyet Daily News in mid-August, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Alagöz brothers have been revealed to have close links to ISIL, as Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz was reported to have been probed last year by the chief public prosecutor’s office in the eastern province of Adıyaman over links to al-Qaeda along with 18 other suspects, news website Radikal reported on Oct. 16.
All of the 19 suspects, at the time, were reported to be implicated in militant recruiting activities and were based in a militant camp in Adıyaman.
The town of Adıyaman has become notorious in Turkey as a site of radicalism among young people from low-income levels.
In the aftermath of the deadly blasts at the heart of the Turkish capital, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made remarks on the twin blasts on Oct. 12 and said the focus of the investigation into the attack was ISIL.
As all developments following the Ankara blasts have thus far suggested that ISIL militants are most likely to be behind the attack, Turkey has stepped up police operations against ISIL militants, with a spate of anti-terror operations across the country.
Most recently, 12 suspects were detained for having links to ISIL in Istanbul, with three of them reported to be senior ISIL leaders in Chechnya and Dagestan.
Mohamed al-Haj S., an ISIL-linked suspect of Chechen origin, was detained in Istanbul early Oct. 20 after Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers raided a home in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district.
Six laser range finders, three binoculars and a telescope were seized in the raid of home of the Chechen militant, who had long been under physical and technical surveillance.
Security sources said Mohamed al-Haj S. was one of the senior ISIL leaders in Chechnya and that he had been to conflict zones in Syria multiple times. The Chechen militant was arrested after giving testimony at the Istanbul Police Department.
In a separate anti-terror operation, 11 ISIL-linked suspects of Dagestani origin were detained early Oct. 21 after Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers raided six separate homes in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district.
Security sources said two of the 11 suspects, who were identified as Aslan T. and Mahmut Ş., were senior ISIL leaders in Dagestan and that the two headed recruitment and logistics activities in Istanbul for those coming from Russia to join ISIL.
The other nine suspects detained in the Oct. 21 raids said they came to Istanbul to head to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria, according to their testimonies.
The nine were then taken to the foreigners’ bureau of the police department for deportation procedures.