A report by the European Union’s official intelligence body, EU INTCEN, has suggested that the October 10, 2015 suicide bombing of a peace march outside the Ankara train station may have been committed on the orders of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to a report by online news outlet Ahval.
The terror attack, in which two bombers belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) blew themselves up in the midst of a crowd made up largely of leftists and Kurdish sympathisers, was the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Turkish history, killing 109 civilians and injuring 500 more.
It followed the ISIL bombings of a pro-Kurdish political party rally in Diyarbakır on July 5 in which five were killed and over 100 injured, and of a group of leftists in the town of Suruç in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa province who were planning a solidarity trip to the Kurdish Syrian town of Kobani on July 20, 2015, in which 33 were killed and 104 injured.
The three-page-long EU INTCEN report, of which Ahval has obtained a copy, was apparently circulated as an urgent, top classified briefing note, dated October 13, 2015, only three days after the attack.
“The modus operandi of the attack (suicide bombers) points to Da’esh (ISIL)” the report notes, and offers a conclusion: “Given the circumstances (arriving buses with demonstrators not searched, police almost absent at the huge demonstration), there is reason to believe that in this case, forces within the AKP commissioned the Da’esh operatives.”
The report also describes the political situation in which a Kurdish political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was desperately seeking to calm renewed violence in Turkey’s Southeast in order to retain its seats in parliament in the upcoming November 1, 2015 elections by surpassing Turkey’s 10 percent electoral threshold.
On the other hand, the AKP had been deprived of its majority in elections on June 7, and “the last thing Erdoğan really wants at this juncture is a Kurdish peace,” the report said.
At a hearing in the trial of suspects in the case in November 2017, the court heard that police had stopped monitoring ISIL bomber Yunus Emre Alagöz 11 days before his brother Yusuf Alagöz carried out the Suruç bombing and three months before he would be one of two bombers involved in the Ankara train station attack.
A lawyer for the prosecution, Doğukan Tonguç Cankurt, said police had cancelled their wiretapping of Alagöz on the basis of having collected sufficient evidence on him. “If this wiretapping had continued, maybe neither the Suruç nor the train station massacres would have taken place,” Cankurt said.
He said that public officials had known what ISIL was doing and that they had buried their heads in the sand.
The fact that it took medical teams 44 minutes to reach the scene of the blasts was clear negligence, another lawyer, Ziynet Çelik, said.
There were three ambulances within a short distance of the train station, but according to their GPS records one of them left the scene without taking any wounded demonstrators following the blast, and only 16 injured out of over 500 were taken to a hospital within the first half hour, she said.
In contrast, riot police had arrived on the scene with water cannons within 14 minutes, she said, and at a similarly sized but government-endorsed, open-air meeting the year before. There had been 141 paramedics, 24 ambulances and a crisis centre, Çelik said.
One of the suspects in the trial, Suphi Alpfidan, claimed that several Gaziantep police officers had known about the bombings and had personally known the ringleaders among the Gaziantep ISIL cell that carried them out.
Policemen Tahir Sarıışık of the intelligence branch and Bestami Duman of the counterterrorism division, who had been named by Alpfidan, testified that they neither knew nor had spoken to any of the suspects in the case.
A new round of hearings in the trial is set for June 12-13.
At a recent press conference, members of the October 10 Lawyers Committee (defence attorneys of the victims) claimed that the case was being dragged out deliberately “to rot” and that the security staff responsible surveillance of the suspects from ISIL were not put on trial in an attempt for a cover up. They accuse the police in the city of Gaziantep for not arresting the suspects despite the wiretapping and of “allowing them” to carry out the massacre.
Left-wing online news outlet Duvar reported on June 9 that despite the fact that Yunus Durmaz, the prime suspect for the planning of the Ankara attack, was on the watch list of the police in Gaziantep, including having an arrest warrant out on him, the police did not arrest him.
Durmaz is known as the emir of the ISIL in Gaziantep and is also accused of planning both the Suruç and the Ankara bombings. According to the same report on Duvar, an arrest warrant was issued by an İstanbul court for Durmaz in November 2013, but the Gaziantep police failed to arrest him. Durmaz reportedly blew himself up during a police raid on his house in Gaziantep, on May 19, 2016.