Al Qaeda-PKK cooperation lies behind Istanbul consulate attack?

Turkish security officials have been investigating whether a cooperation of PKK and al Qaeda lays behind the attack outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.

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Four armed men drove a car up to the high-walled compound situated in Istanbul's Istinye district. Three jumped out of the car as it stopped and began firing at police at a guard post. The police officers fired back, killing three of the assailants - all Turks - as bystanders ran for cover and at least one attacker escaped in the car. A wide search was launched for the fourth attacker.


Although security sources suggest the attack was carried out by al Qaeda, it is far from having the hallmarks of the organization.


This triggered the intelligence services and security officials to question whether al Qaeda has the support of another organization or not. The signals and the developments in the last eight months suggest this support could have come from PKK.


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Turkish security forces had dealt huge blows against al Qaeda as well as the PKK with the extensive operations they launched.



Turkey held a major operation to crackdown on al Qaeda militants, who were deployed under the new strategy of the organization to seek support among the Muslim nations that are reactive to the United States, in December 2007.


Al Qaeda had deployed militants in some parts of Turkey under this strategy, and Istanbul, the central provinces of Konya and Aksaray, as well as the eastern provinces of Van and Agri were chosen for deployment.


Turkish and the American intelligence were informed on this development, and Turkey carried out a major operation against al Qaeda, in which almost 100 militants were captured. This put Turkey under the spotlight of the organization.


At the same time Turkey had offered the U.S. to share intelligence, not only on the PKK, but also the al Qaeda presence in the country. This proposal was later accepted by the Washington administration.



Turkey had launched a major ground and numerous air operations against PKK positions in northern Iraq with the help of U.S. intelligence. Those operations dealt a huge blow to the PKK.


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Another sign of a potential close up between PKK and al Qaeda came when the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, called for the establishment of a Kurdish Islam Institute in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa. This call signals a policy shift within the PKK as the organization has its political roots in Marxism.


The two organizations, under increasing pressure from both Turkish and American intelligence services, seem to undertake cooperation, in which al Qaeda is likely to be using the PKK as a "subcontractor".

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