Murder on the Rue Lafayette: the Assassination of three Kurdish woman
Author: Christopher Dickey: is the Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
In any case, the challenge for the assassin is not the rate of fire. Police have not released specifics about the ballistics, but, for example, the Glock 19, a common semi-automatic pistol in the United States that became very common in Iraq as well as during the American occupation and flooded the Turkish underworld in the middle of the last decade, can easily fire 10 shots from a standard magazine in less than two seconds. The challenge is hitting the target. Even at close range, that takes considerable skill and deadly calm.
If Guney was the killer, where did he learn to shoot like that?
Although the PKK has long been designated a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union, it has extensive networks of sympathizers among the hundreds of thousands of Kurds in the diaspora, and it operates through legal political and cultural organizations as well.
“I am a representative of the BDP (the Democratic People’s Party),” says Yagizay, a former English teacher in Turkey who is now exiled in Strasbourg, France. “We have 36 members in [the Turkish] Parliament; we have 100 mayors; in the Kurdish region we are the biggest party. But there are 10,000 of our members in prison because of their sympathy to the PKK. Most Kurdish people with the BDP are sympathetic to the PKK. My brother was a member of the PKK who was killed in the mountains. Nearly every member of the BDP has a relative, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister in the PKK. We have common objectives but our methods are different.”
According to French authorities, PKK operatives raise funds by imposing a “revolutionary tax” on Kurdish merchants, which gives them a substantial war chest—and potentially a treasure to fight over. There have been frequent hints leaked to the French press suggesting the murders on Rue Lafayette were linked to that racket in some way. But few Kurdish analysts find that argument plausible. They note, on the other hand, that the Turkish government floated the idea last spring of hefty rewards for the capture of PKK leaders living in Europe and northern Iraq. That raises the question of whether the killer was, or wanted to be, a bounty hunter.
Although PKK sympathizers were quick to point the finger at the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s far from clear why he would have thought it necessary to work outside the normal channels of cooperation with French authorities. In 2011 alone, the French arrested 32 alleged members of the PKK, and in October last year they jailed a prominent activist and politician, Adem Ozun, in a sting operation that implicated him in alleged arms trafficking.
What appears certain is that Guney, while claiming to be an activist with the PKK, made many trips back to Turkey over the last year. Apparently he did not contact his relatives there, and both French and Turkish investigators are now focused on the question of just whom he did see. The extent and the result of that teamwork may be a test of Ankara’s real commitment to find the people behind the crime. “If the Turkish state does not cooperate with the authorities,” says Yagizay, “It means they are part of this game.”
The whole truth? Not any time soon.
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Christopher Dickey is the Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is the author of six books, including Summer of Deliverance and, most recently, Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force—the NYPD.
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