Wars very rarely begin with an exact moment that historians can look to and attribute it to the beginning of a war. Usually, nations have pivotal moments when they became involved; often, those days are left to future generations to sort out.
It may also come to pass that December 19, 2016 goes down in history as one of those dates. So rarely has the few shots of a single gun brought to the front an event that many have wondered have been under way for nearly twenty years if not more. Will it be remembered by our children the way we remember July 28, 1914? Or December 7, 1941? Perhaps like September 11, 2001? Did the shots of an assassins gun that evening propel the world toward the Third World War? If so, did the United States fire those shots?
Turkish government intelligence has determined that 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, the police officer who recently assassinated Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov while the ambassador was giving a speech to open an art gallery in Ankara, was a member of the Gulen organization.
The same group that staged an unsuccessful coup in Turkey in July. Reports have surfaced that the Clinton Foundation was engaged in a pay-to-play scheme to obtain Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support for the Obama administration decision to give asylum to Fetullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim imam the Erdogan government holds responsible for the attempted coup July 15. Gulen now lives in Saylorsborg, Pennsylvania.
Sources close to the Turkish government have explained that assassin Mert Altintas, born in 1994, joined the police in Turkey in 2012 and graduated in 2014, when Gulen’s organization, known in Turkey as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO, was at the peak of its power in Turkey. Turkish intelligence and police units investigating the assassination of Ambassador Karlov have now established that Mevlut Mert Altintas had deep ties with Gulen’s group.
Evidence for that conclusion includes several books found at Altintas’ residence authored by Gulen, as well as discovering that Altintas’ sister had shared on Internet social media various FETO-supporting posts urging violent terrorist attacks in Turkey and elsewhere. Altintas was living in an apartment in Ankara that police have established is owned by another fugitive FETO member, Abdullah Bozkurt, the Ankara representative of the FETO group’s English-language propaganda newspaper “Today’s Zaman,” translated as “Today’s Time,” published daily in Turkey.
Turkish authorities are currently attempting to unlock Altintas’ cell phone to gain access to messages and contact lists. They want to know any further connections into Turkey’s police, military, educational institutions and the justice system. Turkish police interrogating Altintas’ classmates at the police academy have learned the suspect regularly attended meetings in FETO safe houses in Turkey, as well as attending “Körfez Dershanesi,” a notorious network of secondary schools that the FETO terrorist organization uses to brainwash recruits and radicalize militants.
Turkish government authorities had also documented that before the assassination, Altintas was under investigation by the Istanbul Department of Chief Public Prosecution as a suspect for stealing questions to the Turkish government’s “Public Service Entry” exam. The Gulen organization allegedly has taken these exam questions and given them to their members before the exam so that they could easily infiltrate into the government staff in Turkey.
Turkish authorities investigating Altintas also revealed Altintas’ connections with the Gulen terrorist organization go so far as to include those references that first recommended Altintas as a recruit to the Turkish Police Department. Turkish government authorities reveal they have taken action against those who provided recommendations for Altintas after concluding FETO terrorists sought to plant Altintas as a fellow terrorist secretly within the ranks of the Turkish Police Department.
Government investigators in Turkey have established Altintas used an encrypted telephone phone application known as “ByLock,” a messaging application believed to generate a private security key for each device used by FETO members to remain anonymous while communicating with others in the FETO underground network. Altintas took a sick day on the day of the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, leading Turkish intelligence authorities to suspect Altintas participated in the coup tempt alongside the putschists trying to topple the government of President Erdogan, though the role he played is not yet clear.
Turkish investigators, working in conjunction with their Russian counterparts, found the assassin maintained four different levels of security protection in his cell phone and had have begun to develop intelligence concerning Altintas’ whereabouts during the July 15 coup. By cracking the ByLock encryption on Altintas’ cell phone, investigators said they found that Altintas was in the city of Erbil in Iraq while the coup attempt developed.
The intelligence tying him to the Gulen group has intensified the determination of the Turkish government to get the U.S. government to extradite Fethullah Gulen from Pennsylvania. Since his self-imposed exile to the United States in 1999, Gulen has operated what Turkey has characterized as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization under the guise of providing educational services.
The Erdogan government has charged that a group within the Turkish army associated with FETO launched the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 that resulted in the deaths of more than 250 people, plus the injury of another 2,500. In the course of the July 15 coup, two F-16 fighter jets under the control of Turkish military loyal to FETO bombed the presidential palace in Ankara.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned in July there “could even be a questioning of our friendship” if the U.S. doesn’t hand over Gulen. Also, military intelligence sources in Turkey continue to report that Obama administration officials have consistently “looked the other way” regarding terrorism in Turkey, refusing to budge on Turkey’s requests to extradite Gulen.
Turkey is optimistic the incoming Trump administration will take a more constructive approach to the continuing requests by the Erdogan government to assist Turkey in combating terrorism. Leaders of the Gulen movement donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as well as to the Clinton Foundation, the Daily Caller reported in November 2015.
One of the biggest donors is Gulen lieutenant Gokhan Ozkok, who is listed on the Turkish Cultural Center’s website as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Ozkok gave between $500,001 and $1 million to the Clinton Foundation in 2015.
A little over a hundred years ago, while riding in an open car in the streets of Sarajevo, the Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was killed in an eerily similar manner. A Yonge dissident, A Serb, shot him and the world went dark with chaos for nearly five years. His shots launched the armies of Europe into the struggle historians would later call the First World War.
We are left wondering did this young assassin fire the first shots of the Third World War, or did he just bring to the forefront a war that has been unnamed since the World Trade Center. If so, will history find the United States on the right side of history?