Mazlum Abdi: Istanbul bomber Albashir’s family linked to ISIS
Mazlum Abdi, the commander of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Ahlam Albashir, the suspected bomber of the Istanbul attack that Turkey blamed Kurdish groups is the sister of three Islamic State (ISIS) militants who died fighting for the terrorist organization.
“I am revealing this information to the media for the first time, that the woman who was arrested for planting the bomb comes from a family linked to the Islamic State. Three of her brothers died fighting for the Islamic State,” Abdi told Al-Monitor’s Amberin Zaman in an interview published on Tuesday.
Abdi said he believes that the bombing was an act of provocation that was conceived by the Turkish government in order to lay the ground for the war against them.
“We did a lot of research and have concluded that the attack was perpetrated by Syrian opposition groups operating under Turkey’s control,” he said.
“We had absolutely nothing to do with the bombing and we have no such policy,” Abdi said.
A bomb attack on Nov.13 rocked Istanbul’s historical Istiklal Avenue in Taksim district, killing six and wounding 81 people. Turkish authorities accused Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF.
Ankara detained dozens of suspects, including Ahlam Albashir that it deems to be the person who planted the bomb that caused the explosion.
One of Albashir’s brothers died in Raqqa, another in Manbij, and a third died in Iraq, Abdi said, adding that another brother is a commander in the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition in Afrin.
She was married to three different ISIS fighters and the family is from Aleppo, he said.
“There are two paths that lie before [Turkish President] Erdogan ahead of the elections. He can either reach an agreement with the Kurdish movement, and that would give him an edge in the elections, or ignite a war. They’ve chosen war. Erdogan has chosen war,” Mazlum Abdi said.
While the PKK and the YPG denied involvement, Turkey in response launched airstrikes into Northern Syria and Northern Iraq on late Saturday, targeting PKK and YPG bases in the region. Ankara also signaled a land operation into the region.
Abdi said that Kobani would be the most likely target of a potential Turkish ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled areas.
Abdi called on the United States and Russia to do more to prevent Ankara of launching a land operation.
“Unless there is a serious effort to deter Turkey, especially on the part of the United States and Russia, they will do it,” Abdi said.
The PKK is an outlawed armed group in Turkey, fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil for almost four decades and designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The YPG that Turkey sees as an offshoot of the PKK is allied with the West in a fight against the ISIS in Syria, forming the backbone of the SDF.