Why did Mevlüt Mert Altintas a Turkish police officer shoot dead Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov dead?
Mevlüt Mert Altintas a 22 year old Turkish policeman has been identified by Turkish media as the individual who assassinated Andrey Karlov, 62, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an art gallery opening Monday early evening.
Karlov’s dramatic death came whilst giving a speech at the gallery opening when Mert Altintas who had been standing behind the Russian ambassador moments before stepped up to the diplomat and shot him dead.
Moment later, he drew a handgun and shot Karlov nine times before reportedly shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.’
After shooting the man, Altinas addressed gatherers where he told in a mix of Turkish-Arabic, ‘We made an oath to die in martyrdom…it is revenge for Syria and Aleppo…until they are safe, you will not taste safety.’
From there, reports tell of multiple people being shot and injured during the ensuing melee.
According to CNN, the words spoken by the attacker are similar to the unofficial anthem of the Al Qaeda-allied group Al Nusra.
The gunman spoke Turkish with ‘an educated, Istanbul accent,’ Turkish analyst Barin Kayaoglu said. ‘No trace of foreign accent, Arab or otherwise.’
A report via Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News told of three people being taken to hospital.
Turkish authorities later told of ‘containing’ Altinas who was killed by security forces in a gunfight.
In the hours after the assassination, Turkish police detained the mother of Mert Altinas’ along with a sister, along with having searched the assassin’s house in the town of Soke in the southwestern Turkish province of Aydin.
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) December 19, 2016
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) December 19, 2016
According to a report via heavy, Mert Altintas became a police officer in 2014 and had been serving as a member of the special forces.
Reports told of the former policeman (who’d been fired after suspected alliances with a July uprising against the Turkish government) being able to bypass the gallery’s security on account of having police identification.
In the aftermath of the shooting death of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, questions have been raised as to what led to the shooting and who or if Mevlüt Mert Altintas was working in concert with other individual, entities or had carried out the shooting as a lone wolf?
Of particular note, the shooting is the latest in a long string of attacks in Turkey this year, while the first in recent memory to be directed at a foreign dignitary.
A car bomb exploded near a public bus in the central province of Kayserion Saturday, killing 13 soldiers and wounding 55 people, according to Turkish officials.
Monday’s assassination attack came exactly a week after a pair of bombings in Istanbul killed 44 people, including 37 police officers, and injured 155 others. The explosions, which occurred after a heavily attended soccer game at Besiktas Vodafone Arena, were claimed by a Kurdish militant group called the Kurdish Freedom Hawks.
Ankara mayor says he thinks Karlov’s shooter was a follower of Gulen & his slogans were just a diversion https://t.co/Dm9Ua3T6y8
— Julia Harte (@JuliaHarte1) December 19, 2016
A statement from Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara via AFP told of the attack being intended to unsettle relations between Russia and Turkey.
The mayor also went on to say that he believed Altintas’ motives had more to do with his following of Turkish preacher and former imam Muhammet Fethullah Gulen and not Syria.
Of note, the Turkish government blamed Gulen for an attempted coup this summer, with the imam purportedly living in exile for the last 17 years in the U.S. The Turkish government has said he and his followers are terrorists according to ibtimes.
Responding to the diplomat’s shooting, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman released a statement saying: ‘Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died,’
Adding: ‘We regard this as a terrorist act.’
Russia’s Vladimir Putin later told in televised statements that the assassination was a ‘provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria.’
— CNN Türk (@cnnturk) December 19, 2016
The shooting comes as tensions in nearby Syria continue to escalate as a proxy war involving the United States siding with rebels against the Syrian government (headed by Bashar Assad) who has been abetted by the Russians, while Turkey maintains a delicate and debatable stance in the unrelenting conflict.
Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides of the war in Syria, with Turkey supporting the opposition and Russia supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey had been holding secret peace talks over Syria between Russian and opposition officials in Ankara that resulted in a cease-fire and a deal to evacuate civilians and fighters from rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Separately, Turkey and Russia have cooperated in fits and starts over the last year in the fight against ISIS, the Islamic terrorist group that controls whole swaths of Syria. ISIS continues to carry out bombings in Turkey in what the group believe to be unwarranted involvement in the conflict which has also engaged Kurds, living primarily in Turkey’s east as they demand autonomy.
Not coincidentally, the attack comes a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers in Moscow to discuss Syria.
To what degree Karlov’s killing will lead to exacerbated tension between Russia and Turkey and disjointing recent efforts at cooperation remains to be seen as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now struggles to contain yet another fall out from the international quagmire on his very doorstep.
PHOTO: Just minutes before the attack, Russian Ambassador was pictured during his remarks in Ankara (Ecenur Çolak – Anadolu Ajansı) pic.twitter.com/V7HMTKbTDP
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) December 19, 2016
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) December 19, 2016
Rus Büyükelçisi Karlov’u öldüren suikastçi aktif görevde olan çevik kuvvet polisi Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş. pic.twitter.com/uyf5ovIjUH
— ahmet şık (@sahmetsahmet) December 19, 2016