Turkish Interior Ministry inspectors have discovered that the name of an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist who orchestrated a suicide bombing in southeastern Turkey eight years ago was searched for twice in the security directorate’s information system prior to the massacre, the ANKA news agency reported on Monday.
On July 20, 2015 a group of university students who were traveling to the Syrian town of Kobani (officially known as Ayn-al Arab) on the Turkish border to help with reconstruction projects gathered outside the Amara Cultural Center in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa province to make a press statement. The city of Kobani was recaptured from ISIL by a coalition of Kurdish forces supported by the US in January 2015, but it was in ruins as a result of heavy fighting.
A suicide bomb that went off during the gathering in front of the cameras claimed the lives of 33 people and injured more than 100. Most of the victims were members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) youth wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF). ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack the next day. Relatives of the victims blamed the police for failing to take precautions.
Interior Ministry inspectors prepared a report due to allegations of negligence concerning the attack within the scope of a trial at the Şanlıurfa 5th High Criminal Court. According to the report, the name of the suicide bomber, Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, was searched for twice in the police system before the attack.
The first search was conducted approximately four hours before the massacre in the police’s “DEVA” system, which contained information about suspicious individuals, by a police officer identified by the initials A.G. who was serving in the Şanlıurfa intelligence branch at the time.
When the inspectors questioned A.G. about why he performed the query, the police officer claimed that he did not conduct the inquiry at that time, ANKA said.
The report also revealed that another police officer at the same branch, identified by the initials A.B., also searched for the bomber’s name in an inquiry program called IRİS, approximately 1 hour prior to the 2015 attack.
When asked about the search, A.B. stated that he received Alagöz’s identity information from his superiors and conducted the search to determine which terrorist organization he was affiliated with.
According to the report, the statements given by the police officers indicated that Alagöz had been under surveillance that was terminated when it was believed that he had gone to Syria.