An investigation into the U.S. Embassy drive-by shooting in the Turkish capital on Aug. 20 has revealed alleged links between the two suspects and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Media outlets reported that Osman Gündaş, one of the two shooters, was an employee at a now-defunct school linked to the terrorist group, while his new employer Ersin Bayram had ties to a U.S.-based group run by FETÖ. Gündaş and Ahmet Çelikten were arrested after firing shots at the embassy compound. No one was injured in the attack. The suspects testified that they were "drunk" at the time of the attack and fired shots to "be popular" in Turkey. However, Gündaş and Bayram, both arrested after the attack, were supporters of FETÖ, new evidence shows.Gündaş had shared videos of U.S.-based FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen on social media while Bayram had videos of Gülen in his smartphone.
The Sabah newspaper reported that Bayram, who runs a restaurant in Ankara, also owned a consulting firm tied to the Turkic American Alliance, a non-profit run by prominent Gülenist Faruk Taban in the U.S. Bayram confessed having ties to senior FETÖ figures in his initial testimony but claimed he severed his ties after FETÖ tried to topple the government in two coup attempts in 2013.
FETÖ is already accused of involvement in the assassination of former Russian Ambassador to Ankara Andrey Karlov. Police arrested several FETÖ infiltrators in the law enforcement for their connection to Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the off-duty policeman who shot Karlov dead two years ago in an art gallery in Ankara.
The embassy attack came at a time of crisis in the Turkish-U.S. relations. Washington wants Turkey to release Andrew Brunson, a pastor imprisoned for his alleged ties to FETÖ. The U.S. also sanctioned Turkish officials when a Turkish court refused Brunson's release. FETÖ has intricate ties to the U.S., its leader Fetullah Gülen and many senior members live there. However, it is also accused of using sensational crimes to incite social unrest in the country, such as covering up intelligence regarding the murder of a prominent journalist.