Patterns of Global Terrorism 1997 - Turkey

The Turkish Communist Laborers' Party/Leninist (TKEP/L) placed two improvised explosive devices against the wall of the US Consulate in Istanbul on 5 October. The police removed the devices before detonation, but the event marked the first time that the TKEP/L targeted a US Government facility. Ensuing police sweeps reportedly wrapped up the group's leader and most of its senior cadre members.

The virulently anti-US Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) – formerly known as Dev Sol – conducted three significant attacks during the year: all were light antiarmor weapon (LAW) rocket attacks against Turkish security facilities in Istanbul. The three attacks were flawed in execution: on 16 June the rocket fired at the Turkish National Police (TNP) headquarters missed and struck a wall; the LAW rocket launched against the Harbiye Officers' Club on 14 July hit the wall of the building but caused only minimal damage; and on 16 September the DHKP/C fired another rocket at the TNP headquarters, which glanced off a wall and broke apart. The TNP's counterterrorism operations against the DHKP/C may be forcing the group to use less experienced cadre members and standoff weapons – such as LAW rockets – rather then the group's preferred close-in handgun assassinations.

The Turkish Islamic fundamentalist group, Vasat, claimed responsibility for throwing a grenade at a book fair in Gaziantep on 14 September, killing one person and injuring 24. The attack was the most egregious by Turkey's increasingly violent Islamic terrorist groups, which include Turkish Hizballah and the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders/Front (IBDA/C). The latter is suspected of masterminding the 2 December bombing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Cathedral in Istanbul.

PKK activities in Turkey were lower in 1997 than during the previous year, in part due to Turkish military operations into northern Iraq to disrupt the PKK's infrastructure for infiltrating its members into Turkey. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, residing in Syria, once again publicly threatened to target Turkey's tourist sites with bombs in an attempt to disrupt the country's vital tourist industry, but these attacks did not materialize.

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