Uzbek dissident assassinated in Istanbul, one arrested

Uzbek dissident assassinated in Istanbul, one arrested

Uzbek dissident assassinated in Istanbul, one arrested

Istanbul has reprised its role as a scene for cloak-and-dagger activity, as Chechen figures are again suspected of targeting dissidents in a planned hit. Uzbek citizen Abdullah Bukhari’s coffin was carried in the streets from the İhsan Learning Services and Solidarity Association's building to the Fatih Mosque for funeral prayers. DHA Photo

An Uzbek dissident who was living in Turkey for around 12 years was assassinated in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Dec. 11, with a Chechen-origin Russian national being detained as the sole suspect.

Istanbul anti-terror teams captured the suspect, identified only by the initials Z.M., after examining security camera footage and taking witness testimonies regarding the incident.

Abdullah Bukhari, 38, was working as a religious leader and was the head of the İhsan Learning Services and Solidarity Association in the Zeytinburnu district of the city. The Uzbek dissident was wounded in a gun attack at close range in front of the association building.

Bukhari had allegedly received death threats from Russian and Uzbek intelligence agencies and reportedly donned a steel vest whenever he went outside. He was attacked at a time when he was not wearing the steel vest, while he also reportedly did not inform any students at the association that he was going to the building.

“He had been receiving death threats for the last three months from Uzbek intelligence and was under close watch. A gunman fired his bullet at close range, and Bukhari later lost his life in hospital. Turkish police were aware of the threats,” daily Yeni Şafak quoted a witness as saying on Dec. 12.

Police reportedly seized a Browning-type gun on the suspect and sent it for ballistics examination. A police criminal examination unit also found gunpowder traces on the clothes of the suspect, who was allegedly carrying a fake Ukrainian passport.

Z.M., a Chechen-origin Russian national, was sent to the prosecutor’s office after his first interrogation by police. A court subsequently assented to the prosecutor’s demands that he be arrested.

Z.M. denied the accusations in his testimony to prosecutors and said he was at his home in the Kayaşehir neigborhood of Istanbul’s Başakşehir district when the murder took place. The suspect said he was married and had received the gun from Syria.

A group of people joined Bukhari’s wife, Amine, and daughter, Ayşe, for the man’s funeral on Dec. 12.
Rahimullah Tandoğan, one of Bukhari’s students, vowed to continue his teachings during a speech at the funeral. Bukhari’s coffin was carried in the streets from the association’s building to the Fatih Mosque for funeral prayers, after which his body was interred in Eyüp cemetery.

Uzbek opposition leader Muhammad Salih, who is currently based in Turkey, has reportedly increased personal security measures in the wake of the incident as he has also been the target of threats. Salih blocked his phone number and closed his social media accounts after receiving warnings from security forces.

The murder came just days after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov accused Akhmat Umarov, who is allegedly hiding in Turkey and is a brother of late jihadist leader Doku Umarov, of being behind the fatal attack on a police checkpoint in Grozny on Dec. 4.

“There is evidence that Doku Umarov’s brother financed, organized and therefore bears responsibility for the attack,” Kadyrov told reporters on Dec. 5, ITAR-TASS News Agency reported. “Russia’s law enforcement agencies must demand his extradition from Turkey.”

A number of Chechen-origin Russian nationals were killed in Turkey between 2009 and 2011 in assassination-style incidents. Ali Osaev, the Istanbul representative of the Caucasus Emirate, was killed on Feb. 26, 2009. Additionally, the execution-style murder of three Chechens, Berg-Hadj Musayev, Zaurbek Amriyev and Rustam Altemirov, on Sept. 16, 2011, in a parking lot in Istanbul was committed by two people who reportedly worked for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and entered Turkey with fake passports under the names Alexander Zharkov and Nadim Ayupov, according to a Turkish prosecutor.