Is it so hard to say it was an ISIL attack?
The legal restrictions imposed on the media over news of the Oct. 10 Ankara suicide bombings - in which the number of deaths hit 102 on Oct. 16 (with many heavily wounded victims still in hospital) - did not work well this time.
Despite possible legal probes, most newspapers (including pro-government ones) have started to report the details of the blast - the bloodiest terrorist attack in Turkey’s history. It was clear from the second day onward that one of the two suicide bombers might be Yunus Emre Alagöz, the brother of the bomber (Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz) who killed 34 people including himself in Suruç on July 20. The two suspects were part of the same entourage at the “Islam Tea House” in the southeastern town of Adıyaman, together with another Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) bomber, Orhan Gönder. Gönder was arrested and jailed on accusations of killing four people in the Diyarbakır attack targeting a rally of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on June 5, just two days before the June 7 general election.
Now it is almost completely clear that the other suicide bomber in the Oct. 10 Ankara bombing was Ömer Deniz Dündar, again from the same circle. Dündar had crossed into Syria after the local authorities closed down the teahouse, heading to Tel Abyad that was then under ISIL control. There he received training and crossed backed into Turkey to carry out an attack. Like the mother of Gönder, the father of Dündar told the press that he had made a number of applications to the authorities to inform them about his son, but these applications had got nowhere. Another member of the group, Mahmut Gazi Tatar, who was captured by the militia of the Kurdish (PYD) forces when they took Tel Abyad from ISIL, confirmed the story in a regret-filled interview.
However, on Oct. 15 Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the attack could be a result of a “terrorist cocktail” with the participation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is the elder sister of the Syrian PYD, and the notorious left-wing DHKP-C militants. He even mentioned the “parallel state” - as the government calls sympathizers of the U.S.-based Islamist ideologue Fethullah Gülen. The PYD/PKK is one of major forces on the ground in Syria fighting against ISIL, but Davutoğlu said he had a meeting in May in the town of Haseki to cooperate in the campaign.
The evidence that Davutoğlu could show to back up his “cocktail” description was a number of Twitter posts by users who are now in custody over their tweets about possible bombs in Ankara on that particular date. Davutoğlu also said the authorities know about certain ISIL-affiliated names - a list of 16-20 people, allegedly including the names above. He said these figures are in Syria so difficult to reach and what’s more the security forces would be unable to arrest them without evidence anyway, despite a recent law that security forces actually could move in if there is “reasonable suspicion.”
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli strongly criticized Davutoğlu in a live interview on private broadcaster Habertürk on Oct. 15. He based his criticism on reports that the recent bombers had met with other suspected ISIL members in Kilis, near the Syrian border, after crossing back into Turkey. Bahçeli said they had spent the night in Kilis (despite the heavy presence of the National Intelligence Agency, the police and the military) before traveling to Ankara some 750 kilometers away. In Ankara they had breakfast in a café before going to the main train station and exploding their bombs in front of it. If the bombers’ presence in Syria was a legitimate excuse, Bahçeli asked, what is the excuse for not capturing the bombers - who were already the subject of police reports - when they were travelling in Turkey with bombs?
Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu snubbed Davutoğlu’s suggestion that “ISIL and the PKK did it together,” saying the prime minister’s statements in recent days were full of contradictions. He asked Davutoğlu to reveal whether the names of alleged suicide bombers were even on the police list of suspects.
For his part, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş asked Davutoğlu what the government was trying to hide about the bombing by restricting the media’s reporting on it.
It is pretty clear from the open source evidence that the Ankara bombing was an ISIL attack, despite the lack of official confirmation so far. It is difficult to understand why it is so hard for Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government to say it was an ISIL attack, trying instead to attach another organization to ISIL. It is not that the PKK would not carry out such terrorist attacks, (they have done so before), but one wonders why the AK Parti is trying not to single out ISIL this time.
For how long will it be possible to smoke screen the truth with media restrictions? People need convincing answers about this terrible act of terror.