Who was the man behind the Russian ambassador's assassination?

The assassin who shot dead Russia's ambassador to Turkey was a 22-year-old member of the Ankara police force. Turkish authorities are investigating suspected links to FETO.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Turkey identified Mevlut Mert Altintas as the killer of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, who was shot dead at a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday evening.

Updated Dec 21, 2016

What do we know about the assassin?

Mevlut Mert Altintas was the shooter who assassinated the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, on Monday.

Altintas was born in 1994 in the town of Soke, in Turkey’s western coastal province of Aydin. 

He attended the Soke Cumhuriyet Anadolu High School and is a graduate of Izmir Rustu Unsal Police Vocational School, according to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

Altintas worked as a riot police officer in Ankara for the past two and a half years, the interior minister said. However, the privately owned daily Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said on Monday that he had been on medical leave from his job.

What were his motives?

Immediately after shooting the Russian ambassador, Altintas shouted out:

God is great! God is Great!
Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!
Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!
You will not taste safety unless our lands are safe. Only death can get me out of here.
Whoever has a share in this tyranny will pay for it one by one.

Burhan Ozbilici, an AP photographer who witnessed the assassination on Monday, in his personal account said Altintas was "agitated" about the situation in Aleppo.

"So he was probably angry about Russian bombardments of Aleppo that were aimed at driving out anti-government rebels," Ozbilici wrote. 

Altintas also shouted in Arabic, "We are the ones who swore allegiance to Muhammed for the jihad!" Hurriyet said it was a slogan commonly used in the propaganda videos of ultra-conservative violent groups.

What are his suspected links?

Turkish authorities claim there is strong evidence of Altintas' links to the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) group.

Kani Torun, an MP with Turkey's ruling AK Party, told the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news channel that the preliminary findings point to FETO.

"He is not a person who has been to Syria and it is very unlikely that he has been in contact with groups in Syria," Torun told Al Jazeera.

"They [FETO] have been very active in police forces. We believe they can carry out suicide attacks like this."

The Daily Sabah newspaper claimed Altintas attended a Gulenist prep school in his hometown. In an article, the newspaper included a document issued by the Diyarbakır Governorate, which shows that Altintas took annual leave between July 16 and 18. The timing is right after the July 15 coup attempt, which Turkey accused Gulen of orchestrating.

It is believed that Altintas' uncle is a former senior executive at a FETO private school. The school has since been shut down as a result of a FETO probe into the foiled coup. 


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No group has claimed responsibility.

Have any arrests been made?

Turkish police have detained seven people following the assassination.

The assassin's mother, father, sister, uncle, and two other relatives were taken to Aydin's Security Directorate for questioning. Altintas' flatmate in Ankara was also detained.

Who will be investigating the assassination?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Russia will establish a joint committee to investigate the murder. Moscow has sent an 18-person team to Ankara to assist Turkish officials in the full-scale investigation.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies