Foreign links investigated in terrorist attack on police headquarters
Police display munitions seized from one of the terrorists who attacked a police building on Friday. One of the assailants died while the other was injured in a shoot-out with police. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Ali Ünal)
Following a terrorist attack late on Friday evening that targeted buildings belonging to the Security General Directorate in Ankara, officials are investigating possible links of the two individuals suspected of having carried out the attack with foreign countries.
Two terrorists, one of whom was shot dead and the other wounded by the police after carrying out a rocket attack, reportedly illegally entered Turkey from Greece and Syria.
Two members of the far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) terrorist organization, Muharrem Karataş and Serdar Polat, at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday fired two rockets towards an annex of the Security General Directorate and the Police Guesthouse in Ankara's Dikmen neighborhood. As both the rockets became stuck in the walls of the buildings, there was no loss of life in the attack. Following the attack, Karataş was shot dead and Polat was wounded in Gölbaşı.
As per information obtained from security sources who asked to remain anonymous, the encoded instructions for the attack, plotted about a week ago by some cells of the terrorist DHKP/C, were sent to the militants of the organization in the Lavrion camp in Greece and in Syria. In order to carry out the attack, in which a policeman was wounded in the leg, Karataş is believed to have entered Turkey from Syria and Polat from Greece.
Interior Minister Muammer Güler confirmed on Saturday evening that Karataş was also the terrorist who carried out the rocket attack against the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on March 19. “The other person was also under our watch for previous illegal activities. We know he had previously left for Greece and come back,” Güler told reporters.
Ankara Governor Alaaddin Yüksel told reporters on Saturday that the terrorists are believed to have arrived at and left the scene of the incident on foot. The terrorists, who hid themselves behind an advertising board to avoid being seen, following the attack headed towards Gölbaşı. Police teams who were on the scene of the attack within a couple of minutes discovered the path the perpetuators had taken thanks to police sniffer dogs and cameras which are part of the mobile electronic integrated system. In an operation involving several thousand members of the special operation teams of the police department and directed by Kadir Ay, head of the Ankara Security Directorate, the suspects were cornered in a woody area of the Gölbaşı district.
Karataş, who was killed in the clash, had a fake identity card in the name of Ahmet Güzel, while Polat, who had his name recorded in police records for being a member of a terrorist organization and for making propaganda in the name of the terrorist DHKP/C, had one issued in the name of Muzaffer Uzun. The Yeni Şafak daily maintained on Sunday that the terrorists obtained their identity cards from Turkish officials in Vienna by using false names.
As Interpol red notices had previously been issued for the attackers, how they managed to obtain new identity cards in place of ones they claimed to have lost raises questions, the daily said, maintaining that Austria is, after Greece, one of the leading countries in Europe which seems to tolerate the existence of DHKP/C members on its soil. The terrorists obtained, using the real details of other people, new ID cards in Vienna in February of this year saying that they had lost their ID cards. Polat, who is being treated for his wounds in a hospital, is in good condition, while Karataş was buried on Sunday in Çorum province. The terrorists are believed to have planned to leave Turkey for Syria as they had on them documents related to Syria, Yeni Şafak said.
Police sources said police had intelligence reports in hand which indicated that Polat trained for two years at the Lavrion camp in Greece. The DHKP/C said on its web page that it carried out the attack for those killed and injured by the police during the Gezi Park protests which rocked the country for more than two weeks at the beginning of the summer.
Responding to a question on how the terrorists managed to come so near the heart of the city and the Security General Directorate, Governor Yüksel said: “We are faced with a very important incident, and it is being investigated in a multi-directional way by our colleagues,” Noting that an investigation was still under way, he added, “Follow-up operations may ensue.”
Security forces in Ankara have been on high alert after receiving intelligence that two DHKP/C terrorists who had attacked the ruling party's Ankara headquarters with a light anti-tank weapon in March were planning another attack on an unknown target.
DHKP/C terrorists Murat Korkut and Karataş attacked the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) headquarters in Ankara in March. The reports following the attack said Turkey's Security General Directorate and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had located the two terrorists in Syria. The photos of the two suspects had also been shared with border officials.
Turkish security forces have been closely watching DHKP/C members in Turkey and abroad. Turkish officials have recently shared intelligence with foreign intelligence officers about 38 would-be suicide bombers who are believed to be hiding in Greece, Germany and Belgium.
When Greek security officials arrested people suspected of being members of the DHKP/C in a counterterrorism operation this summer in the Aegean Sea, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thanked his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, over the telephone for the successful operation. Four people, two Turks and two Greeks, were captured in the operation. With a speedboat loaded with arms and explosives they had hired, two of the terrorists were planning to sail to Turkey from Chios Island, Greece.
Greece has repeatedly denied Turkish press reports that it shelters militants. A small number of Turkish left-wing activists are believed to live in Greece, where they have requested political asylum.