A suicide bomber, Ecevit Şanlı, blasted a bomb on February 1, 2013 at the US embassy in Ankara. Şanlı is a member of Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization that aims to set up a communist system by fighting imperialism and oligarchy. Actually, the DHKP-C is an offshoot of Dev-Sol, which has roots go back to 1970s. Having disputes in Dev-Sol, the founder of the organization Dursun Karataş established the DHKP-C in 1994 in Damascus.
The Dev-Sol was an active organization during 1980s and first half of 1990s. It is responsible of seventy-five police officers, twelve army members, four National Intelligence Agency members, two judges, three American citizens, and thirty- five civilians lives who were killed between 1983 and 1994. 
The organization has committed many acts since then and formed a strong system within the prisons that helped it to strengthen its grassroots. Aftermath of 1994 the organization continued their activities. One of the groundbreaking attacks of DHKP-C was assassination of a prominent businessman of Sabancı Group, Özdemir Sabancı, in 1996.
Suicide bomber Ecevit Şanlı is one of the members of this organization that attended several attacks in 1997 after trained in Europe. He was arrested after his attacks to Army House and Police Headquarters in Istanbul in 1997. Ecevit Şanlı released from the prison because of having Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome because of attending a hunger strike in 2002.
Why the US Embassy was the target?
DHKP-C has become more active in Turkey since 2012 once again. The organization have killed 3 police officers and committed some illegal activities like attacking to police stations by suicide bombers in the last six months.
Following their activities closely Turkish Police and Intelligence Agency shared a report all around Turkey last year and indicated that there are 15 suspects who are abroad and trained to be used in terrorist attacks. According to the report 8 of them were trained in Greece, 4 in Germany, one in Syria and two in Belgium. Based on this report Ecevit Şanlı was among four people in Germany.
Parallel to this report Turkish Police also has started a big operation in different cities all around Turkey and took under custody more than 80 people during these operations. 55 of them got arrested and sent to prison. Among these people there were 9 lawyers and five journalists. Because of some of these arrested people’s professional background, some opposition groups (particularly leftist groups) criticized these arrests harshly. These arrests are labeled as undermining freedoms and democratic gains in Turkey. It is argued that the number of journalists in the prison has increased to 72 with these arrests. Even though these people were not arrested because of journalism activities, rather their links with the terrorist organization, these groups also started to use rhetoric as if being a journalist means being untouchable. After these criticisms Chief Prosecutor of Istanbul said that they have reached enough evidence after technical surveillance and collection of information and documents and these people were not arrested because of their professional activities rather their illegal links with the DHKP-C.
The recent attack shows that the concerns of security forces in Turkey were not baseless. DHKP-C assumed the responsibility of the attack to the embassy next day and publishing a declaration in its website stated that the bomb blasted because of the US policies in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
The DHKP-C as stated above is a Marxist-Leninist organization and this is not the first time that the organization attacks to a foreign target. However, after being passive for a long time, particularly during 2000s, the organization has become more active in the last year.
This is a parallel tendency with Turkey’s close cooperation with its Western allies. As known during 2009-2010 period there was a great debate about Turkey’s axis shift from the West. Nevertheless, following NATO’s Lisbon Summit in 2010, Turkey has shown that it is one of the main allies within the organization by accepting the deployment of radar station in Malatya-Kürecik as part of the missile shield program of the alliance. Additionally, following the deteriorating situation in Syria NATO allies showing a strong solidarity decided deployment of Patriot missiles on Turkey’s Syrian border. These maneuvers disturbed certain groups within Turkey and abroad as well and they loudly criticized Turkey’s close cooperation with its Western allies.
In this framework, not only the US policies, but also the AKP is targeted as well in DHKP-C’s declaration. It is stated in the declaration that “the AKP is collaborating with the imperial powers and the DHKP-C is against Turkish territory to be used for the interests of the imperailists.” This shows that the attack does not only targets the US embassy, but also have some messages to the domestic politics.
In fact, Sırrı Sakık, the Member of Parliament and member of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) argued that the location of the attack was also close to the Turkish Grand National Assembly and this could also be a message related with the negotiation process that had started between PKK and the government. As known in January 2013, three PKK militants were killed in Paris after the government authorities shared the information about the start of negotiation process with the public. Thus, this reason can be also taken into account. In fact, it is stated in the declaration that “the Kurds cannot reach to their aims with compromises with imperialism, rather they have to fight against imperialism”. In other words, they also publicly say that instead of reaching a road map for a solution to the PKK issue, the best way is to continue to fight.
All in all, looking at the declaration of the DHKP-C the attack seems to be intended to give many messages both to abroad and Turkey. As stated before the DHKP-C has links in abroad and also it has characteristics of a subcontractor organization. In this sense, the attack can be only related with this group, but the possibility of involvement of some other actors that are not comfortable with Turkey’s close relations with the West cannot be ignored. The point here is that once again the world saw that we are living in an era of asymmetric threats and have to face the challenge of global terrorism. The DHKP-C militant, Ecevit Şanlı, was trained in Europe, blasted a bomb in Turkey, inside the American Embassy, and killed two Turkish citizens and wounded one Turkish journalist. This picture shows the whole story. Thus, it is hard for a nation state to fight against terrorism within its borders with limited instruments it has. Since, terrorists always have chance to decide time and place of attack. In this sense, we have to be pre-emptive for prevention. And it can be done by further collaboration among allies to minimize the rising threats as the instability getting deeper in the Middle East.
 Teymur, Samih. "An Analysis of Terrorist Recruitment by Observing The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) Terrorist Organization in Turkey." PhD diss., University of North Texas, 2004.
- 1TURKEYThousands mark International Workers Day in Turkey amidst heavy security
- 2ASIAChina blocks US navy ships' access to Hong Kong port
- 3TURKEYEU-Turkey migrant deal is necessary, says Hungarys Orban
- 4TURKEYOfficer killed in bomb attack on Gaziantep police HQ in Turkey's southeast
- 5TURKEYLast two days for historic Turkey-EU visa accord