Sunday, November 30, 2003

An update

More on the bombings in Turkey:
Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 29 - A suspect in the bombing of a Turkish synagogue was charged Saturday with attempting to overthrow Turkey’s "constitutional order by force," the Anatolia news agency reported. The charge amounts to treason and is punishable by life in prison. ...

Anatolia did not say why the court charged the man with treason. But leaders of outlawed groups that aim to overthrow the system have been charged with treason in the past. ...

Turkish officials have said all four suicide bombers were Turkish nationals, militants with international contacts. Newspapers have said some of them could have been trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan or Iran.

Western and Turkish officials say the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

Newspaper reports have said police were conducting DNA tests to confirm the identity of the bomber who blew up a pickup truck outside the British bank. Newspapers identified the man as Habib Aktas, a Turk from the southeastern city of Mardin.

Hurriyet, a leading Turkish newspaper, said Aktas was wanted by police in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir for questioning since 1995 over his alleged involvement in the outlawed radical Islamic group, Hizballah. The group is bears the same name as the better known group based in Lebanon, but is unrelated. ...

At least two of the 20 suspects charged in the bombings were alleged members of Beyyiat el-Imam, a little-known group formed in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan whose name is Arabic for "Allegiance to the Imam," news reports have said.
Frankly, it's looking to me more and more as though my original suspicion was right: The bombings were home-grown, an attack on Turkey by Turkish fanatics with no operational connection to al-Qaeda. Some training, possibly; inspiration, undoubtedly. But this was not an al-Qaeda attack.

There are two issues I see with the determination to find an al-Qaeda link shown in the above item. (Just what are these "hallmarks," anyway?) One is, as I said before, the risk of reversing the cliche and "failing to see the trees for the forest," that is, of overlooking very real threats because you're too busy looking for sweeping international conspiracies. The other is, that may be the actual intent: to deny the existence of internal opposition by pointing to "foreigners." The former risks lives foolishly, the latter selfishly - but in both cases, it is the innocent who will pay the price.

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