Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Thursday that he believes the October 10 bombing of a peace rally in Ankara was a collaborative attack organized by the Islamic State (ISIS), the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview Wednesday, Davutoğlu asserted that another ten people had been arrested in relation to the two suicide bombings, which occurred simultaneously and resulted in what is being called the worst terrorist attack in post-Ottoman Turkish history. He warned that any further attacks would be met with resistance from Turkish police: “Whoever tries to create a chaos, an environment open to provocations will also be taken before the court.”
Most shockingly, however, he asserted that the bombing occurred following a meeting between ISIS and the PKK, a Marxist terrorist group that has been among the most effective military forces against ISIS, as well as representatives of al-Assad. In addition to ISIS and the PKK being sworn enemies, the Islamic State largely developed as a militia dedicated to taking down al-Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect of Islam that Sunni ISIS members see as infidels. The Turkish government, at least, believes this origin story, as it has blamed the United States and the greater West for “creating” ISIS by not toppling the Assad regime earlier.
As Hurriyet notes, Davutoğlu gave no explanation as to how these groups would have agreed to talk to each other, much less plan a terrorist attack together. In addition, the government has provided no explanation for why it believes the PKK is involved, as the bombing targeted a pro-Kurdish peace rally largely attended by PKK sympathizers.
Suspects with suspected ties to the PKK have been arrested in relation to the bombing, however. On Tuesday, Turkish police sources told media that two men had been arrested in relation to a Twitter account called @MrBereday, which had tweeted in the days before the bombing that ISIS would attack Ankara, and that the PKK had nothing to do with it. “In the demonstration that will be held in Ankara, there may be an intervention under the name of ISIL. The way to prevent this is a direct intervention of leftist organizations. The PKK is not in this affair,” read one tweet.
The suspects arrested have not been identified, but the Turkish government has released the names of the two suicide bombers who perpetrated the attack: Yunus Emre Alagöz and Ömer Deniz Dündar. Both had ties to the Islamic State; Alagöz’s brother was found to be the suicide bomber behind a terrorist attack against a Kurdish group meeting in Suruç in July. That attack triggered extensive military action against the PKK by the Turkish army in Syria, despite its targeting of pro-Kurd and PKK sympathizers.
Hurriyet is reporting that the Turkish government received a tip, warning of a bombing three days before October 10. The two men had also been investigated for ties to al-Qaeda, an ISIS rival group, but police found no evidence of involvement with the group. No evidence exists that either jihadist had ties to the PKK.
“For Turkey, there’s no difference between the PKK … or Daesh,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, insisting war with one terrorist group is war with the other, despite the two groups openly fighting each other. The Turkish government acted on this belief this week upon summoning the ambassadors to Turkey from Russia and the United States, expressing displeasure with support from both countries for Kurdish militias on the group in Syria and Iraq. “Turkey cannot accept cooperation with terrorist organizations waging war against Turkey,” Davutoğlu said.