Three suspected terrorists of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) were detained yesterday after recent footage of two masked gun-yielding individuals raiding an Istanbul coffeehouse and threatening people not to vote "yes" in the upcoming referendum surfaced on social media.
The footage, shot at a coffeehouse in Istanbul's Okmeydanı, showed two armed and masked terrorists, who called themselves "the front militias," yelling at the people in the coffeehouse and saying that anyone who is promoting the "yes" vote, supporting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) or President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be punished.
"We will not allow the fascist AK Party's propaganda activities in our neighborhood," said one of the militants in the video, adding, "Everyone should know this. This neighborhood is ours and will remain so."
"If anyone works for the AK Party, the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] or any other fascist groups in this neighborhood, they will be punished," one of the militants had threatened. The three suspects, linked to the DHKP-C, were later detained by police, after the video surfaced on social media.
The DHKP-C, although less influential in Turkey than other terrorist organizations such as the PKK, still represents a considerable threat to the country, with a string of attacks over recent years.
Purportedly following a Marxist-Leninist ideology, the DHKP-C was founded in 1978 and was most active during the Cold War years. The group has revived its activities and attacks in recent years.
The group is officially listed as a terrorist organization by both the EU and the U.S.
However, it enjoys relative freedom in European countries such as Greece, Belgium and Germany, where DHKP-C militants have managed to evade prosecution in Turkey by claiming that they would face political persecution if extradited.
Two years after the killing of Mehmet Selim Kiraz in 2015, a Turkish prosecutor who was gunned down by two DHKP-C terrorists, German authorities have yet to extradite his suspected killer Musa Aşoğlu, a senior figure of the terrorist group, who was captured in Hamburg.
Musa Aşoğlu, who is accused of ordering the killing and of being the mastermind behind the attack, along with eight other DHKP-C figures, was captured in Germany last year and Turkey immediately sought for his extradition.
German authorities refused to extradite Aşoğlu, amid concerns and claims that he would be held in solitary confinement in Turkey.
The group was behind a suicide bombing that targeted the American Embassy in Ankara in 2013, leaving a Turkish security guard dead. Also in August 2015, two suspected members of the DHKP-C opened fire on the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul and fled when police returned fire.
The DHKP-C also claimed responsibility for non-lethal rocket attacks targeting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters, the Turkish National Police headquarters and a Justice Ministry building in Ankara in 2013.
The group, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, advocates a far-left ideology, and its members do not have a homogeneous ethnic background like that of the PKK, which mainly draws support from Kurds.
The DHKP-C's power has significantly declined since the death of Dursun Karataş in 2008, one of its founding leaders.