Turkish security forces claim to have foiled a plot to assassinate our President, at least according to the Saudi daily Al-Watan. The assassin posed as an Al-Jazeera reporter, and confessed to having three other accomplices (via Tommy Christopher and the College Politico):
Turkish security services have arrested a man of Syrian descent who was planning to assassinate US President Barack Obama during his current trip to Turkey, the Saudi daily Al Watan reported Monday.
According to the report, the man, who was arrested on Friday, was carrying a press card identifying him as an employee of Al Jazeera. He reportedly confessed to his intention to stab Obama with a knife and said that he was aided by three accomplices.
The report stated that Turkish authorities were still unsure as to whether the press card was a fake or whether it had actually been issued the man by the Qatari news network.
For their part, Al-Jazeera says they have no idea who the man is, or how he got the ID.
I’m not seeing anything in the wire services or in the American newspapers about this attempt. I’m unsure as to whether this is for real, or just a Saudi or Turkish fantasy. If so, it’s a strange one; why would they want to concoct a story where a Muslim plotted to kill Barack Obama? He didn’t the kind of adulation in Turkey that some may have expected, but he certainly got a warm reception. If they were going to make something up, they probably could have thought of something better than a knife attack. It takes four people to conspire to a stabbing?
If it’s on the level, we owe the Turks a big thank you. We may oppose Barack Obama’s policies, but he’s still our President. I’m betting that this is something less than advertised, however.
Update: The AP reports that this is a hoax, but the details sound less convincing:
Turkish police detained a man after receiving a hoax tip that he was plotting to kill President Barack Obama but quickly released him without charge, a government official said Tuesday.
The official, who is close to police operations in Turkey, said police detained the suspect — a Turkish national — on Friday after receiving an anonymous e-mail which even gave the suspect’s address in Istanbul. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar civil servants from speaking to the media without prior authorization.
“There was nothing serious. Police released the man and said he was mentally disturbed,” the official said. “The tip turned out to be a hoax. The IP address from which the e-mail was sent was traced to the United States.”
So police arrested — and then released — a mentally-disturbed individual? Um, okay. The tip came from an e-mail from the US, or at least someone using an e-mail system based in the US, but they had the suspect’s address and apparently knew his mental state. I’m not sure the word “hoax” is correct here; maybe “overreaction” might be better.
The Secret Service will follow up on the report, but as I suspected, it was less than advertised.