Your lone wolf next door

Your lone wolf next door

Turkey’s fight against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorism has created some interesting undercurrents and deep tides in society that cannot be overlooked. Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov’s assassination is a watershed event in terms of the security apparatus or lack thereof. 

Because dismissals linked to the Fethullah Terror Organization (FETÖ), almost half of Turkey’s police force is either in jail or without a job. Those who remain could easily be the talent pool that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been dreaming of: Deeply Sunni, deeply religious, and dedicated to the cause. 

Before jumping to any early conclusions about the potential FETÖ links of the killer, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, let’s remember that for almost a week there were mass demonstrations in big cities and outside Russian diplomatic missions in Turkey about Aleppo. “Killer Russia” banners were carried at the rallies. Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad were put in the same basket as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic in the pro-AKP papers. Despite Ankara’s reluctance to openly blame Moscow, all conservative NGOs and small political parties created a mass undercurrent against Russia’s intervention in Syria. The climate was perfect for any militant or a lone wolf to act, and Russia and Iran were obvious targets.

From the moment of the killing, pro-government papers and TV channels spun the story in such a way that every ordinary person felt that the U.S. or the big Western powers were behind the assassination. After all, who other than FETÖ or the CIA could do such a thing? 

Let me humbly suggest that if Gülenists are still capable of killing such a high-value target right in the middle of Ankara while going undercover in the police force, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and his company should be vwet afraid. If they are not capable of such an act, then Ankara is unfortunately giving more credit to the Gülenists than they deserve. As a result, all the pro-AKP talking heads on TV shows should think twice before immediately putting the “FETÖ” label on it. 

Remember, the FETÖ we know is a hidden, sinister and very pragmatic organization that would never sacrifice a member’s life for its cause. Gülenists are good at planting evidence, interfering in private lives and placing traps, but they have never dared openly confront death. That is why all the top soldiers and prosecutors in the FETÖ ring have fled Turkey. The attack by the police officer Altıntaş, if linked to FETÖ, would amount to a ground-breaking act for the Gülenists. 

Turkey’s overall security is a complete mess. The police and the military are completely understaffed. There is zero human intelligence. The government is basically run on Twitter. These conditions, in which the state has outsourced its core activities to whatever radical group it can easily recruit from, give opportunities to lone wolves to carry out such attacks. 

It is certainly bad if the Gülenists (or any other radical group) have truly managed to recruit an elite force police officer. But if Altıntaş acted alone it is an even a bigger problem, meaning that ultra-religious and nationalist groups, fueled by the populist talk on the street, have taken this country’s security apparatus hostage. 

If this government continues to resist correcting itself and refuses to hire truly intelligent and qualified people to conduct proper intelligence work, your next door neighbor could become the lone wolf of tomorrow.