Police were able to identify the suicide bomber, whose body was torn apart in the blast, by his fingerprint. The bomber, Ecevit Şanlı, was a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left group which is virulently anti-U.S. and anti-NATO and is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington. Şanlı was involved in attacks on a police station and a military staff college in Istanbul in 1997 and was apprehended in 2001.
The explosion took place at 13:15 on Friday. The 40-year-old Ecevit Şanlı detonated plastic explosives which killed himself and security guard Mustafa Akarsu. Didem Tuncay, a television diplomatic news reporter happened to be in the building at the time and was critically wounded in the blast.
The United States Embassy in Ankara is located in the capital's highest-level security district. It is situated just 100 meters away from the Grand National Assembly, 300 meters away from the Ministry of Interior Affairs and just 500 meters from the Prime Ministry. The embassy building has high walls, steel railings and barriers. There are security cameras recording 24 hours a day, and it is guarded by police, members of U.S. marine corps and private security guards. Although Paris Street, which is where the door of the Embassy where the blast took place faces, is closed off to traffic, the embassy entrance is used for staff and cargo-logistics entries.
HOW DID HE GET IN?
After the explosion all footage recovered from security cameras in the vicinity were studied. According to initial findings, Şanlı entered Paris Street on foot. He was carrying a folder and arrived to the second entrance, generally used by personnel and for deliveries. He proceeded to ring the entry buzzer and security guard Akarsu did not initially open the door. However, when Şanlı continued to insist on being let in and urgently pointed to the documents in his hand, Akarsu assumed he had arrived for a job interview and let him in. As Şanlı passed through the x-ray machine, the bomb strapped to his body released a signal. At this point, the 47-year-old security guard Mustafa Akarsu attempted to intervene, however Şanlı proceeded to pull the pin which detonated the explosives killing both the suicide bomber as well as the security officer.
After the explosion, the smell of plastic was rampant, parts of the steel and iron door were destroyed and debris was scattered all over. It turns out the U.S. Embassy staff was actually saved from what could have been an even worse tragedy. Staff had returned from their lunch break at 13:00 and entered the building from the entrance where the explosion took place. Just 15 minutes later, Şanlı detonated the bomb at that same very door, which was just 20 meters away from the line for visas. After the blast, embassy staff were taken to a safe room in the building.
IDENTIFIED BY A MOLE
The suicide bomber's body was torn apart from the force of the explosion. As a result, police were unable to identify the bomber by his face. Teams, accompanied by Prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili spent hours searching for the perpetrator's finger. The various body parts were collected by forensics teams and in the end it was a mole, located on the bomber's skull that enabled police to identify the bomber as Ecevit Şanlı, a DHPK-C member who had previously served time at the Kandıra F-Type Penitentiary.
ON THE MOST WANTED LIST
Ecevit Şanlı was born on January 1st, 1973 and is registered as residing in Ordu's Gürgentepe Akören. Şanlı joined the DHKP-C in 1996 and has supposedly received armed training by the organization in camps abroad. The organization also trained Şanlı in explosives. In 1997, Şanlı participated in attacks on the Istanbul Police Department and the Harbiye Military Facilities. According to police sources, the suspect was being used by the organization as a suicide bomber due to an illness he had incurred. After participating in a hunger strike, in 2001, Şanlı was diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and was released from prison. Şanlı supposed went to Germany via Syria and then illegally entered Turkey ten days ago with Nebiha Aracı, who was also involved in an attack on a police station in Bahçelievler. Both are part of the 15 DHKP-C members who are on Turkey's 'most wanted' list.
This is a translation of an article originally written by Uğur Becerikli, Alper Sancar and Hanefi Ceyhan.
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