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A Brief Analysis of the Istanbul Bomb Attack
On November 13, at 16:13, a bomb attack took place on Istiklal street in Taksim, Istanbul. The explosion killed eight people, including children, and 81 others were injured.
Immediately after the attack, many different claims were made and various theories were presented. Early reports suggested that a suicide bomber carried out the attack, but the visual evidence disproves this claim.
In the videos released of the incident, a woman is seen placing a bag next to flower pots on the road. The explosion then occurred at the location where she left the bag.
The explosive device employed in the attack probably had a timer or was detonated by a remote control. In a statement, the Turkish General Directorate of Security reported that the explosive compound in the bomb was TNT.
After planting the bomb, the suspect promptly left the area. This can be seen in the CCTV footage of the woman who planted the device. The woman wore a black turban and wearing military-like attire, which is quite peculiar.
After the images emerged online, "Adem Taşkaya", a prominent member of the Victory Party, claimed that the person who carried out the attack was a lawyer named "Jiyan Tosun", who is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
However, the lawyer, who said she was at a police station at the time of the explosion, stated that she was threatened because of the accusations made against her.
In addition, much speculation has been made about the perpetrator(s) of the attack on social media. Some said the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which has been inactive for years, claimed responsibility, but this turned out to be false.
About 12 hours after the attack, anti-terrorism (TEM) forces carried out an operation at the alleged attacker's house in Küçükçekmece, and a suspect was arrested. The clothes that the attacker wore while planting the bomb and a pistol were also found during the raid.
The pistol seized from the perpetrator looks like a blank-firing EKOL Aras Magnum 9mm PAK or similar model. Özkursan brand 9mm blanks are also seen with the pistol. It is notable that the gun is a blank - and one not even converted to fire live ammunition.
The alleged perpetrator was identified as a Syrian named "Ahlam Albashir". During the interrogation of the suspect, it was claimed by the Turkish authorities that she confessed she came from Afrin (which is controlled by Turkey and FSA) and was trained by the YPG (the People’s Defense Units).
Therefore, Turkish officials claimed that the attack was carried out by the “PKK/PYD”. The PKK, on the other hand, issued a statement, denying involvement with the attack, and said the AKP-MHP (Turkey's two ruling parties) administration made this claim specifically to target Kobanê.
After the PKK, YPG Spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud also issued a statement. Mahmoud likewise stated that the YPG had nothing to do with the attack, stating that “AKP and MHP accused YPG forces and created an unrealistic scenario to prove their false claims”.
In addition, KCK and Iran-supported Hezbollah were among the groups that condemned and/or rejected the attack.
On November 15, another development took place: multiple calls were made to the perpetrator of the bombing, Alham Albashir, from the phone line registered to Mehmet Emin İlhan, the Head of Şırnak Güçlükonak District of the MHP. It was stated that these calls were detected as a result of the investigations carried out by the Turkish police.
Mehmet İlhan, on the other hand, did not comment and stated that he did not want to talk about this issue.
Later, Mehmet İlhan claimed that he was summoned to testify only because of the similarity in name. Later, he claimed that someone else had registered such a phone line by stealing his identity information. The inconsistent statements of MHP's İlhan led to more questions about the incident.
The fact that the perpetrator engaged in many questionable activities (going directly to her own home after the attack, keeping the clothes she wore during the attack) and owning only a blank pistol raises questions about whether the attack was military-trained and/or part of an urban cell.
Despite the government’s statements, much remains unknown about the attack and the network and logistics behind it. Perhaps more information will be presented in the coming days and weeks to paint a fuller picture of what happened.