Terrorism Investigations

Turkish Leftist Group Likely Responsible for Attack on U.S. Embassy in Ankara

By Zachary Eddington
Sunday, February 3, 2013, 1:20 PM

Within hours of Friday’s suicide bombing, which killed one Turkish security guard, Turkish authorities had blamed the attack on a Turkish leftist group known as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C), an illegal Marxist organization established in the 1970s. Further information this weekend has confirmed those initial suspicions. Yesterday, the DHKP/C issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, and Turkish officials announced that DNA tests had confirmed the bomber to be Ecevit Sanli, a DHKP/C member with prior terrorism convictions.

The motive for the attack remains unclear, but a couple of leading theories have emerged. One possibility is that the bombing is retaliation for the Turkish government’s recent arrest of fifty-five DHKP/C members. Another potential explanation, detailed by Piotr Zalewski of Time Magazine, is that the attack is a response to U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. In its statement, the DHKP/C condemned U.S. intervention, particularly the recent NATO deployment of Patriot missile batteries in southern Turkey. However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied a connection between the bombing and Syria, and the White House so far has declined to comment on possible motives.

For Lawfare readers who are interested in background reading about the DHKP/C, a number of profiles are available. See here, here, and here. The group has been a designated foreign terrorist organization since 1997.