On December 19, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was assassinated at the launch of a photo exhibit at Modern Arts Center in Ankara.
The assassin’s name became known almost immediately after the murder. The ambassador was killed by 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas. Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said that Altintas was a police officer. Later, it became known that he graduated from a police academy and served in Ankara.
BBC Turk reports that the assassin used his police identification badge to enter. The young man wore a suit and a tie and was taken for a bodyguard.
The Turkish authorities hurried to blame exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, but his office has denied the accusations. Moreover, the words of the assassin prove he had no connection to the Gulen social-political movement which the Turkish government calls ‘FETO’, an acronym for ‘Gulenist Terror Organization’.
A video of the assassination shows Altintas yelling in a mixture of Turkish and Arabic: “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)! Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! We have made an oath to Muhammad to die in martyrdom… a revenge for Syria and Aleppo!”
The assassin explicitly voiced his support for the so-called “moderate” opposition which was ousted from Aleppo the previous week by the Syrian armed forces. Altintas might have had close ties with radical jihadists. Jaish al-Fateh, affiliated with al-Nusra group, published a statement claiming responsibility for the terror act.
The Turkish authorities will continue to accuse Gulenists, but the blame must lie with those who support the Syrian opposition. A peculiar fact is that Turkish media are not publishing Altintas’ words, while terrorists in Turkey fighting against the Syrian government and people are portrayed as “heroes” and Bashar Assad as a “tyrant.”
On December 16, just three days before the assassination, Turkish Minute published an article which stressed that the security level in Turkey was extremely low because of a large number of terrorist organizations’ cells based in major cities including Istanbul and Ankara. It wrote, ” The combination of both the deliberately ratcheted-up, vitriolic anti-Western diatribe by Turkey’s Islamist rulers and a surge in xenophobic incidents on the ground suggests that the storming of a foreign embassy in Ankara or consulate compound in Istanbul by thugs to send a chilling message to allies and feed the public paranoia is quite likely.”
One of al-Qaida bases is set up in Ankara’s Kecioren district, close to Cankaya neighborhood where the Modern Arts Center where the Russian diplomat was killed is situated.
All of these prove one thing: the Turkish government that is backing the jihadists to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by any and all means is sitting on a powder keg ready to explode at any moment. Ankara should better be wiser concerning its Syrian policy to avoid becoming the martyr of its own ambitions.