I’m not convinced by this:
Turkey has arrested a number of people of Uighur origin over a deadly nightclub attack that killed 39, the state-run news agency reports.
Those detained are believed to have come from China’s Xinjiang region with ties to the attacker, Anadolu says.
Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak also said the suspect was probably Uighur, and acted alone but may have had help.
Bombings and shootings aren’t normally the modus operandii of the Uighurs, who prefer to appear out of nowhere in a large group, attack people with knives, and then disperse (see here and here, for examples). If the attack was indeed carried out by ISIS, which is most likely, rounding up Uighurs isn’t going to do very much. ISIS aren’t generally too fussy as to where their terrorists come from; an insane level of commitment is what they look for in team members, not shared ethnicity or nationalities. However, what arresting hapless Uighurs might do is deflect attention from the obvious failings of the Turkish security services.
The authorities have reportedly tightened security at Turkey’s land borders and airports to prevent the attacker from fleeing the country.
Turkish media have run images of a suspect, saying the pictures were handed out by the police. But the police have given no official details.
The Turkish foreign minister has said the authorities have identified the attacker, but has not given further details.
In other words, we don’t know if he’s an Uighur or not – something which could be ascertained in ten seconds flat by the name alone – but the Deputy PM is fuelling rumours that he is. I’d say that if he was an Uighur then the government would have confirmed this by now: what reason could they have for not saying so?
Special forces made the early morning arrests at a housing complex in Selimpasa, a coastal town on the outskirts of Istanbul, after police were reportedly tipped off that individuals linked to the attacker were in the area.
Uighurs were among those arrested – the number was not confirmed – on suspicion of “aiding and abetting” the gunman, the Anadolu news agency reports.
It is usually the case in the wake of a terrorist attack that the local minorities get dragged over the coals as the authorities scrabble around trying to catch the perpetrator. Us Brits did just that with the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, so it’s not just limited to places where the traffic lights are advisory. It’s probably not much fun being an Uighur in Turkey right now.
At least 39 people were already in custody over suspected links to the attack, many of whom were picked up in an earlier police operation in Izmir, western Turkey.
Several families had recently travelled there from Konya, a central city where the main suspect was said to have stayed for several weeks before the attack.
No fun at all.
Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak told Turkish broadcaster A Hamer that the authorities knew where the suspect, who he described as “specially trained”, was hiding, without giving further details.
Presumably they’re waiting for him to finish his lunch.
Witnesses to the new year attack said more than 100 rounds of bullets were fired which, the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardener says, indicates the gunman had at least some rudimentary military training.
Which narrows it down to 100% of men over the age of 15 in the nations surrounding Turkey.
Previous media reports incorrectly suggested the culprit was a national from Kyrgyzstan, after a passport photo claiming to show the attacker was circulated.
Rumours persist that several of the terrorist attacks in Turkey have been carried out by people who come from the countries of the former Soviet Union. I have no idea whether this is true, but I suspect the rumours stem from the fact that a lot of the ISIS military commanders and their most experienced and competent fighters are Chechens, Russian converts to Islam, and the Central Asian states.
It later emerged the passport belonged to someone unrelated to the attack.
I bet he was happy about that.
All in all, it seems to be a bit of a clusterfuck, doesn’t it?
Just as I published this post, this news broke:
Two attackers, a policeman and a civilian have been killed in a car bomb and gun assault on a courthouse in the Turkish city of Izmir, state media say.
At least 10 people were reportedly wounded in the explosion.
Images showed two cars ablaze and the body of one man carrying a weapon. Reports say a third attacker is sought.
Word is that this is the PKK who are behind this latest attack, though.