Turkey Pulse

Bin Laden Relative Arrested in Turkey Before Bombing

Article Summary
While there's no connection between the arrest of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Gheith, days before the suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, and the bombing itself, both incidents put the focus on Turkey’s role in combating terrorism, reports Tulin Daloglu.

On the same day when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara was attacked by a suicide bomber, the Turkish daily Milliyet had an exclusive front-page report with the headline: “Bin Laden’s son-in-law arrested in Ankara.”

According to this exclusive report on Feb. 1 by Tolga Sardan, the CIA had tipped off the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) that Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Gheith, has entered Turkey with a forged passport, and that the Turkish security forces have recently arrested him at a hotel in Ankara’s Cankaya district, where Turkey’s presidential palace, the U.S. ambassador’s residential compound, and a number of embassies are also located.
The former spokesman of the world’s most deadly terror network reportedly escaped Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and settled in a camp in Iran. The Milliyet story said Abu Gheith appeared before a Turkish judge, but he was “let free as he did not commit any crime in Turkey except entering the country with a forged passport. Despite his release though, he was returned to the Turkish security forces for deportation. Although the U.S. asked that he be extradited to them, Turkish authorities have sent him back to Iran based on technical legal procedures.”
Considering Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s complains that the West is taking sides with PKK terrorists and failing to extradite them back to Turkey like allies should do, this report had the potential to turn the coin to the other side, and bring an international spotlight into Turkey’s terrorism laws as well as its legal definition of a “terrorist,” and the country’s responsibilities for the larger safety and security of our world.  
In this context, it’s certainly convenient that it’s not an al-Qaeda franchise that conducted the attack to the U.S. Embassy on Feb.1. Turkey could actually have found itself in a very difficult situation if this were to be somehow related to al-Qaeda, and that the country’s image might significantly be compromised.  
There is now no linkage between these two incidents — except an interesting timing that the two came on the same day. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army (DHKP-C) claimed responsibility on Saturday for the attack to the U.S. Embassy, which left Mustafa Akarsu, a 47-year-old security guard, dead, and Didem Tuncay, a well-known Turkish diplomatic correspondent, critically injured. In a written statement, next to the picture of Ecevit Sanli, the suicide bomber, who's also dead, DHKP-C said, “Murderer America! You will not run away from people’s rage.” And it accused the United States of using Turkey as its “slave.”
Turkish security forces took three suspects into custody Saturday on allegation that they helped provide Sanli the forged identification, but they were all let go by mid-Sunday because of lack of evidence tying them to any “terror network.”
That said, it’s still too early to reach conclusive judgments as to why DHKP-C attacked the U.S. Embassy now — after a long break since they last targeted America in Turkey.
Founded in 1978 with a fellow named Dursun Karatas, this secular party aligned with Marxist-Leninist ideology, quite out of step with the jihadi movement, has been anti-imperialist, anti-American and anti-NATO from the very beginning. Until today, it was never publicly framed as a “pro-Assad” group — even when their sense of common enemy in the United States led them to limited cooperation at times.
Since the late 1980s, the group has targeted primarily current and retired Turkish security and military officials. It began a new campaign against foreign interests in 1990, which included attacks against U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities. During the Gulf War, DHKP-C assassinated two American military personnel, wounded an American Air Force officer and conducted more than 20 bombings against U.S. and NATO military, commercial and cultural facilities.
U.S. insurance executive John Gandy was murdered in his Istanbul office in February 1991 by a well-trained Dev Sol hit team that gained access to the office building by wearing Turkish National Police (TNP) uniforms. After tying Gandy to a chair the Dev Sol operatives shot him multiple times in the head. The terrorists then wrote anti-US graffiti on the office walls with the victim's blood, a chilling touch.
DHKP-C’s professional tradecraft at the time was rated highly, and it utilized sophisticated surveillance and countersurveillance techniques, employed multilayer assassination squads with surveillance, primary and secondary shooters, and it successfully infiltrated its operatives back and forth between Western Europe and Turkey as needed. In fact, Turkish authorities now reveal that DHKP-C had infiltrated four suicide bombers into Turkey from Germany through Greece about three months ago, and despite all their efforts they failed to find Sanli before attacking the U.S. Embassy. The location of the remaining three suicide bombers is also not yet discovered.
Moreover, DHKP-C's funding is primarily domestic and European through extortion of guest workers. Its trademark is  professionally forged documents and disguises.
Former U.S. intelligence sources told Al-Monitor: “It may be that it compelled to act due to the Patriot deployment to Turkey, or felt they were losing relevance as the grip on power in Syria continues to slip from Assad’s grasp.” Turkey had asked NATO for the deployment of the Patriot missiles as a precaution to increase the defense of the country in case the Assad regime targets it. “Turkey has the greatest footprint in Europe of any Near East nation, continues to have traditional link with the Old Left, and did it because they could do it,” the same sources also told Al-Monitor. “Only Turkey stands as a refuge for the left against the fundamentalists, and in Turkey the opportunity to target the Imperialists is tangible, just as it was for the jihadists in Benghazi.” 
The real story here is a struggle for the heart of the revolutionary developments in the Arab world that toppled the autocrats, and certainly the faith of the Syrian civil war.
Tulin Daloglu is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. She has written extensively for various Turkish and American publications, including The New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneThe Middle East TimesForeign PolicyThe Daily Star (Lebanon) and the SAIS Turkey Analyst Report. She also had a regular column at The Washington Times for almost four years. She tweets from @TurkeyPulse.


Found in: turkey, suleiman abu gheith, arrested, ankara

Tulin Daloglu has written extensively for various Turkish and American publications, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Middle East Times, Foreign Policy, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and the SAIS Turkey Analyst Report.


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