Turkish police: Diyarbakir bomber has ISIS connections

Turkish media reports that suspect detained over HDP rally bombing on June 5 in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir claimed to have ISIS links in testimony to Turkish police

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Turkish media has reported a suspect detained last Wednesday for the bombing of a rally by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir two days before Turkey’s June 7 general elections claimed to have links with ISIS in his statement to Turkish police. 

The suspect, Orhan Gonder, reportedly said that he joined  ISIS in October 2014 following Kurdish riots over Kobane between Oct. 6-7 after he was threatened by the Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement (YDG-H), the youth wing of the outlawed PKK.

The events of Oct. 6-7 took place after HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas called his party’s supporters to the streets to rally in support of the northern Syrian city Kobane, which was at the time besieged by ISIS.

The protests triggered attacks on the  Kurdish Free Cause Party (Huda-Par) supporters by the YDG-H which is blamed for the attacks and the deaths of more than 40 people.

The Huda-Par is considered to be a conservative Kurdish movement while the YDG-H is regarded as being leftwing and secularist and close to the HDP. 

Gonder said in the testimony he gave to the police that he received the order to undertake the bombings from a man code named “Serdar” stationed in the ISIS camps in Syria and known for other ISIS activities. Gonder had been trained for bombing missions by ISIS operatives in the camps, his testimony claimed. 

Gonder said, “Serdar gave me two bombs and three cell phones. He told me after I crossed the Syrian border I will be welcomed by somebody who will escort me to Gaziantep [a Turkish border city] from where he ordered me to pass by bus Diyarbakır through Sanliurfa.”

Gonder, whose code name in ISIS is allegedly “Cengiz,” arrived in Diyarbakir and checked into a hotel in the neighbourhood of Dagkapi before the the HDP rally on June 5, he is reported to have stated. 

The suspect planted one of the bombs in a trash can in the square where the rally took place and another in a mobile tea shop whose owner also allegedly has links to to ISIS, according to the suspect’s statement. 

Three people were killed and 100 others were injured by two simultaneous blasts detonated by a mobile phone at the rally. Demirtas said one blast was just 30 meters away from the place where he was making his speech. 

Turkish media reported that Gonder moved to Gaziantep by bus and settled in a cell house where he was detained by security forces following the bombings. 

Gonder said, “I called somebody in Gaziantep and told him that I need to go to Syria. He rebuffed me and turned off the phone. I was detained afterwards,” according to the testimony. 

Diyarbakir Chief Prosecutor Ramazan Solmaz previously issued a written statement saying that the suspect is facing charges of “voluntary manslaughter” and “being a member of armed terrorist organisation.”

Turkish daily Sabah reported that Turkish officials have assessed that “Serdar”, the man behind the Diyarbakir bombings, also ordered Muhammad al Rashid to pass three British girls to Syria through Turkey.

Rashid has a Canadian passport, but he is originally from Syria. He was detained in Sanliurfa, a Turkish border province to Syria, on accusations of illegally smuggling British girls and foreign fighters into Syria and is also alleged to have connections with the Canadian and British intelligence services. 

Sabah also reported that Turkish officials have said that the recent clashes between YDG-H and Huda-Par members in Diyarbakir were directed by the same forces. 

Aytac Baran, president of a conservative NGO organisation named Yeni Ihya-Der and member of the Huda-Par was killed in an armed attack in Diyarbakir last Tuesday after unknown assailants attacked him near his home.

Violent clashes erupted following the assassination and led to the killing of three more citizens, allegedly HDP members, while four others were injured - including journalists and a policeman.

Turkish officials have indicated that foreign intelligence services are aiming to create internal conflicts in the southeastern region in order to destabilise Turkey, the Sabah report added. 

The HDP has taken part in Turkey’s general election for the first time as a political party, while the Huda-Par put its candidates in for elections as independents. The HDP passed the 10 percent electoral threshold by gaining 13 percent of the vote, allowing it to win 80 seats in the Turkish parliament.

Today Turkish media reported that a fourth victim of the Diyarbakir bomb attack, Ali Turkman, has died from his injuries.

TRTWorld and agencies