Jihadists published a PDF file of Russian consulate addresses around the world online after Monday’s attack in Ankara.
It comes as a photo has emerged appearing to show gunman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, as a supporter of Turkish President Erdogan.
Pro-government media has attempted to link Altintas to the Gulen movement, the same group that was blamed for the failed coup in July.
Now sources have confirmed Altintas was part of the presidential bodyguard in the weeks after the failed coup in July. A picture on social media is believed to show the off-duty police officer turned killer at an AKP event for Erdogan’s conservative party.
Turkish authorities said Altintas took part in eight events involving President Erdogan. It has not been revealed what his duties were or how close he actually got to the President during his brief assignment.
The close protection team tasked with safety of the President is believed to number several hundred.
A photo of Altinatas’s sister, Seher, who was arrested on Monday, also appears to show her as a supporter of the president.
She is pictured on social media wearing a red t-shirt adorned with the crescent-star, Erdogan’s name and the hashtag ‘seninle’, which translated from Turkish means ‘with you’.
Meanwhile, a senior government officer said yesterday that the gunman is not believed to have acted alone.
As an investigation gets underway to establish if Altinatas had any extremist links, the government described the attack as ‘fully professional’ and well planned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is to personally attend the funeral of slain ambassador Andrey Karlov on Thursday, and has postponed his annual set-piece press conference to pay his respects.
Pictures have emerged of the hotel where assassin Altintas stayed before shooting the respected ambassador, who had previously served in North Korea.
There were also claims that ‘terrorist literature’ was found at the Ankara flat where he was living.
‘Books of FETO and al-Qaeda found at house of the assassin who took life of Russia’s envoy in Ankara,’ reported NTV in Russia, citing Turkish sources.
He moved out of the flat and into a luxury hotel before gunning down the ambassador.
Hotel Best is a 4-star hotel located in the Cankaya district of Ankara.
On Tuesday, a chilling new video emerged showing the moment an off-duty police officer calmly patrols an art gallery floor before pulling his gun on ambassador Andrei Karlov.
Standing tall in a smart black tie and suit, the 22-year-old gives no hint at the terror he is about to unleash in Ankara.
Altintas is filmed adjusting his jacket as the ambassador speaks to a distinguished crowd of journalists and art lovers.
He reaches inside to touch his holster once – but seems to change his mind and clasps his hands back together.
He sways from one foot to another, then slowly paces over to stand on the other side of the ambassador. The side from which he will kill.
Altintas calmly moves again, seemingly looking at the artwork before reaching into his pocket a second time, fiddling for a moment, then returning to his poised stance.
After touching his nose he reaches into his jacket one last time, grabbing his semi-automatic weapon and gunning down Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, from behind.
Shots are heard and the camera cuts out.
Russian media on Tuesday reacted with outrage to the killing.
‘The murderer was afraid to look him in the eye,’ ran the banner frontpage headline on pro-Kremlin paper Izvestiya above a dramatic picture of Karlov with his killer looming behind.
‘They did not shoot at Karlov. They shot at Russia,’ Senator Konstantin Kosachev said in comments published alongside.
Karlov was at the opening of a Russian photography exhibition in Ankara with his wife when Altintas crying ‘Aleppo’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) unleashed his attacker.
The killer had staked out the scene of the shooting exactly one week before, reports say.
Both Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the attack a ‘provocation’ aimed at sabotaging ties that have been patched up since a furious dispute over Ankara’s downing of a Russian jet in Syria in November 2015.
Putin also said that the killing in Ankara was designed to undermine efforts to find a settlement on the conflict in Syria that are currently being spearheaded by Russia and Turkey.
In an interview with Izvestiya, the head of Russia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Leonid Slutsky, warned those who try to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey would fail.
‘The main thing is that there will not be a new round of tensions between Russia and Turkey, no matter how much our opponents want this,’ he said.
‘This was a terrible tragedy, but interstate relations overall will not suffer from this.’
Other outlets were, however, harsher toward Ankara – which state television had portrayed as Russia’s top foe in the wake of the jet’s downing – pointing out that Turkish authorities had been unable to protect the Russian envoy.
‘Responsibility for the death of a foreign ambassador on its territory always lies with the host country,’ Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid wrote, adding that the murder was ‘yet another powerful blow’ to the reputation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Questions are being raised as to how Altintas, who comes from a secular family, came to shoot dead Karlov.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday blamed the group of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen for the assassination.
In an interview with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Cavusoglu said ‘Turkey and Russia know that behind the attack… there is FETO,’ it said, referring to Turkey’s acronym for Gulen’s organisation.
Gulen – an exile accused of orchestrating an abortive coup in Turkey in July – had earlier condemned the assassination as a ‘terrorist act’ that left him ‘shocked and deeply saddened.’
Turkey’s authoritarian government has imposed a temporary blackout on media coverage of the Russian ambassador’s shooting.
An online listing remains showing him as a serving policeman on an official database, yet pro-government media have claimed Altintas was reportedly one of some 8,000 fired from the police as a result of an investigation into the July ‘coup’ against President Erdogan.
The newspapers claim the killer was sacked from the riot police on a posting to Diyarbakir after his commander Kahraman Sezer fell under suspicion.
They also claimed that Altintas took two days’ holiday immediately after the coup.
Six suspects including his father İsrafil Altıntaş, mother Hamidiye, sister Seher Altıntaş, uncle and flatmate were today in custody undergoing questioning about his motives, and whether he was linked to an extremist group.
The assassin’s father Esrafil reportedly told police during an interrogation: ‘I cannot understand how he did something like that. I am so surprised.’
Police detained Altıntas’s uncle, who had been working at a closed school allegedly linked to the Gülen movement in the Kuşadası district, on Tuesday. He was reportedly previously detained as part of the investigation into the failed July 15 coup attempt.
Gunman Altintas moved to Ankara one and a half months ago and was allegedly living with a supporter of the the Gülen movement, an Islamic transnational religious and social movement led by controversial Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, based in the US.
The Turkish authorities have acted to crush what they call the Gulenist Terror Organisation FETO.
The government says Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, created a ‘parallel network’ in the police, military, judiciary and civil service aimed at overthrowing the state. Gulen denies this.
Today pro-government newspapers linked the assassination to the group. ‘An attack on friendship by treacherous FETO,’ said Sabah daily. ‘A bullet from FETO,’ added the Star daily.
But the Gulen movement has refuted any connection, media representative Alp Aslandogan said the exiled cleric condemned the murder as a ‘heinous act’.
One theory is that the killer stayed at a hotel in recent days to plan the attack.
Altintas set off the metal detector security check when he entered the exhibition in central Ankara as he was carrying a gun, said pro-government Sabah daily.
But after showing his police ID, he was waved through and allowed to proceed.
Hurriyet newspaper daily claimed he had put on a suit and tie and shaved at the hotel before heading to the exhibition centre.
Before he was shot dead himself by special forces, Altintas shouted in Turkish: ‘Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!’
He then warned journalists filming the event: ‘Stand back! Stand back! Only death will take me out of here. Anyone who has a role in this oppression will die one by one.’
Amid the chaotic scenes, eyewitnesses reported that Altintas shouted ‘Allahu akbar’, the Arabic phrase for ‘God is great’.
Another theory is that he had been radicalised by a Jihadist group in Syria.
It is claimed he was active in his youth with President Erdogan’s AKP party and may have been linked with the Al Nusra Front, a Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda.
In Arabic, Altintas can reportedly be heard saying: ‘We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad for jihad.’
According to local media, his words are similar to the unofficial anthem of Al Nusra.
Some reports claimed he said words to the effect of: ‘We made an oath to die in martyrdom … it is revenge for Syria and Aleppo … until they are safe, you will not taste safety.’
When the violence erupted in the exhibition, Altintas smashed several of the framed photos on the wall as others ran for cover.
Witness Hasim Kilic, a journalist for Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, told AFP: ‘It happened during the opening of an exhibition. When the ambassador was delivering a speech, a tall man wearing a suit, fired into the air first and then took aim at the ambassador.
‘He said something about Aleppo and ‘revenge’. He ordered the civilians to leave the room. When people were fleeing, he fired again.
An unnamed witness added to news website Diken: ‘There was a single attacker. He was wearing a suit. He said to the Russian ambassador: ‘I’m not going to get out of here alive. And neither are you.’
‘Then he took aim straight at him. We all ran out. The ambassador was motionless on the ground.’
Photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who was covering the exhibition, said: ‘The Russian ambassador was sprawled on the floor and the attacker was waving his gun at the rest of us, shouting slogans.
‘He shot the ambassador at least once more at close range and smashed some of the framed photos … In all there were at least eight shots. Guests ran for cover, hiding behind columns and under tables.’
The assassin graduated from Izmir’s police vocational school and served for at least two years in the riot police.
A computer and documents have been seized by Turkish police from the family home in Soke, 35 miles south-west of the city of Aydin, near the Aegean coast, where his father Esrafil, mother Hamidiye, and his sister, Seher Ozeroglu, who works in a clothes shop, live.
Meanwhile, Karlov’s widow Marina was reported to have had a ‘nervous breakdown’ in the moments after he was killed.
As the shooting began she fell to the floor like others in the audience at the photographic exhibition.
She was rushed to hospital, and is being accompanied by the embassy doctor and psychologists when she flies with her husband’s remains back to Moscow today.
In a statement to the Turkish secret services, she recounted the horrific moment her husband was killed.
‘I was lying on the floor along with the others. There were many people at the exhibition. All of us were shocked with what had happened.
‘I recovered only when we were already on the way to the hospital. I think my husband was already dead by then.
‘He shot at him 11 times. We did not have any security guards at all. Only an interpreter accompanied us from time to time.
‘When we came to the hospital, the mayor of Ankara came too, and people from Health Ministry. They talked together for a long time and later they said that my husband was dead. I was shocked. I immediately felt unwell.’
Ambassador Karlov was a key figure in seeking to forge contacts with opposition forces in Syria, Moscow claimed today.
‘This is the man who was in touch with opposition forces, including the Syrian opposition,’ said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
‘He was initiating dialogue between them. It adds a new understanding to the tragedy.
‘He was devoted to peace making, in true meaning of these words.
‘He knew how terrorists are born, how they spread their ideas in this region, how hard it is to start a political process.’
The Russian Investigative Committee – equivalent of the FBI – announced they are treating the ‘murder’ of Karlov ‘as an act of international terrorism’.
Today they sent a team of investigators to Ankara to probe the killing.
Vladimir Putin declared that ‘we have to know who directed the hand of the killer’ .
Putin called the killing of Russia’s ambassador a ‘provocation’ aimed at sabotaging warming ties between Moscow and Ankara and efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
‘There can be only one answer to this — stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this,’ said the Kremlin leader.
The body of slain Karlov will be airlifted to Moscow today, said embassy officials.
‘Later today, a mourning ceremony with a limited number of participants will take place at the airport,’ said spokeswoman Irina Kasimova.
‘Turkish diplomats and high-ranking officials are expected to attend the ceremony.
‘After that, the ambassador’s body will be delivered to Russia.’
His family and the embassy’s doctor will accompany the envoy’s remains to Moscow.
Diplomats at the embassy are expected to nominate Karlov for a posthumous state award to be bestowed by Vladimir Putin.
Turkey and Russia are seeking to warm ties despite major disagreements on the Syria conflict.
Ankara has given its backing to rebels seeking to topple Moscow’s ally President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian foreign ministry today expressed thanks for international condemnation of Karlov’s assassination.
‘We express our appreciation to all our colleagues and partners for their words of support.
‘We highly appreciate the solidarity shown to us,’ the ministry said in a statement.
Moscow could seek to extradite associates of the slain killer to face justice in Russia, it is believed.
Spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said a criminal investigation has been launched in Moscow.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: ‘We are convinced that the main goal of those who planned this barbarian action was to ruin the process of normalisation of relations between Russia and Turkey and to block the effective fight with terrorists in Syria.’
The Russian foreign ministry stated: ‘We expect the Turkish authorities to cooperate closely with the Russian investigation to thoroughly investigate all details of this barbaric crime, find and punish the culprits and to take the most effective measures to ensure security of Russian citizens, foreign mission and diplomatic staff.
‘The Russian side is ready to do our part in cooperation with the Turkish law-enforcement authorities to bring those guilty to justice.
‘The Foreign Ministry expresses the deepest condolences to the relatives and friends of Mr Karlov. The memory of this outstanding Russian diplomat will remain in the hearts of all who knew him forever.
‘This tragedy obliges us to put even more effort in a fight against terrorism in all its forms.’
The Russian embassy in London issued a statement declaring: ‘We are shocked by the repugnant murder of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov, our very good friend and an outstanding diplomat.
‘It was hard to imagine how such an outrage could happen.
‘It is a reminder for all of us that no person or country is immune to terrorism.
‘Ankara is not far from conflict areas and the diplomats working there have always been on the frontline.
‘Mr Karlov’s posting to Ankara was no random choice. A person with highest diplomatic qualities was needed there, as regards both professionalism and active civic stance.
‘His experience at the MFA and in high positions abroad helped him to make a major contribution to stabilization of the Russia-Turkey relationship and its active development in today’s challenging conditions.
‘The terrorists’ choice of target was not random either. In essence, they wanted to deal a blow to the recovering counter-terrorism cooperation between Moscow and Ankara.
‘The assassination of Andrey Karlov is another testimony to the need for creation, in deeds, not words, of a united anti-terrorist front by the international community, i.e. what Russia called for on successive occasions.’
Andrey Baklanov, the deputy chairman of the Association of Russian Diplomats, said the ‘villainous murder’ of Karlov was to seek to disrupt warming relations between Ankara and Moscow which would ‘seriously damage the position of ISIS and other extremist organizations’.
He said: ‘There is only one possible response to this violent act: to do what terrorists fear most to all, to fight for rapprochement of Russian and Turkish position, and also for rapprochement of all other countries regarding fight with terror.’
He called on the West to revert to the fight against Hitler in the Second World War when Britain and the US allied themselves with the USSR.
‘Today we hear condolences from many capitals of this world, including Western countries,’ he said.
‘We are grateful for their kind feelings but we think that solidarity must be supported with certain actions.
‘Unfortunately we don’t see such actions yet.
‘On the contrary, Western politicians do not withdraw their sanctions against Russia. Is this the right spirit for cooperation with your allies?
‘During World War Two, Britain and the USA have revised their approaches to collaboration with the USSR and provided massive help as land-lease in an atmosphere of joint resistance to fascism.
‘Today we need Western countries to demonstrate basic decency towards our country.
‘And moreover the logic of preventing new acts of terror at the territory of those Western countries demands it too.’
There is now a ‘moral duty is to conquer terrorism as we conquered fascism earlier’.