No Syria link in Topkapı raid

No Syria link in Topkapı raid

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
No Syria link in Topkapı raid

Bullet holes on Topkapı Palace walls from a clash between police and a gunman became a new tourist attraction. AA photo

A gunman who was shot dead Nov. 30 at Topkapı Palace in central Istanbul after wounding a soldier and a security guard has no links to Syria, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

Samir Salem Ali Elmadhavri, a Libyan citizen born in 1975, arrived in Turkey on a scheduled Turkish Airlines flight from Benghazi to Istanbul on Nov. 27 – not through Syria as indicated in earlier reports – security sources said.

The sources also denied that the attacker, who engaged in a one-hour gunfight with security forces at Topkapı Palace before being killed, arrived at the scene in a Syrian-registered car. Instead, they said Elmadhavri had used taxis since arriving in the country.

Security sources also denied reports that one person was detained yesterday in Istanbul for his involvement with the attacker.

The Daily News can reveal the details of how the attack and gunfight at Topkapı Palace located in the city’s historic Sultanahmet district emerged.

Elmadhavri arrived in Istanbul on Nov. 27 and checked into the Kristal Otel in central Istanbul. On the day of the attack, he traveled to Sultanahmet in a taxi; later, he bought one rifle and one shotgun in two different shops before going to sit at a coffee shop.

The assailant then took out his guns at the café and started walking toward the palace. Although he was spotted by some civilians, the soldier on duty at the door of the Topkapı Palace was caught off guard and shot in the leg.

The 36-year-old attacker then grabbed the soldier’s MP5 machine gun and shot a security guard with it, before engaging in the one-hour gunfight with the police.

Elmadhavri was killed in the gunfight.

Citing the car’s supposed Syrian registry and the fact that the attack occurred at Topkapı Palace, some had originally linked the attack to the tension between Syria and Turkey over the anti-regime protests against Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Assad accused Turkey earlier this week of aiding the Arab republic’s opposition, which Damascus describes as terrorist gangs, and of seeking to restore the Ottoman Empire. Syria was conquered by the Ottomans in 1516 and remained under their control until the empire’s disintegration.

Topkapı Palace was the seat of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years.