Hand of Terrorism

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at week's end Agca was saying that he trained in 1980 in Syria.

A Marxist connection would be a strange one for Agca, who won a place on Interpol's wanted list as a right-wing terrorist convicted of a political murder in his own country. Agca's rage seems to have been fired by poverty. Born in the township of Malatya Hekinhan, 300 miles east of Ankara, he lost his father, a miner, when he was barely eight. "From then on," recalled his grieving mother last week, "I could not control him." When young Agca became ill, the family could not afford a doctor. The unidentified disease, his mother believes, made him nervous and aggressive.

Later he left home, to study first literature at the University of Ankara, then economics at Istanbul University. There he became a devotee of terrorist politics. On June 25, 1979, when police swept into an Istanbul café notorious as a hangout for right-wing extremists, Agca was among those rounded up. He admitted to a crime that had gone unsolved for months: the assassination the previous February of Abdi Ipekci, editor of Istanbul's respected left-of-center daily Milliyet. He had done it, Agca said, in league with Turkey's now outlawed neofascist National Action Party. But Agca later insisted that he had acted on his own.

Agca went on trial in October 1979. On the night of Nov. 23, while the case was still being heard, he was secretly whisked out of his cell in an Istanbul maximum-security prison by 14 sympathetic military men—all of whom still await sentencing for assisting the getaway. Three days after the escape, Milliyet received a letter from Agca demanding the cancellation of an imminent visit to Turkey by Pope John Paul II. "The Russian imperialists," the letter reasoned weirdly, "fear that Turkey will organize a new power in the Middle East along with brotherly Islamic countries." They were therefore sending "a spiritual leader and commander of crusades, John Paul II." Warned Agca: "I will shoot the Pope if his untimely visit is not canceled." Killing the Pope, the letter added, would even the score for the 1979 attack by Islamic radicals on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, which, Agca charged, was "carried out by the United States and Israel."

The Pope, under heavy guard, visited Turkey without incident. Agca, according to Turkish security officials, soon found another target. He sought out and murdered the young man who had fingered him for the Ipekci killing. In February 1980 he fled Turkey via Iran, and apparently surfaced next in West Germany.

When Turkey claimed last week that West German authorities had failed to cooperate in pursuing Agca, Bonn at first insisted it had no proof that he had ever been in the country. But the next day, the Germans uncovered fearful evidence that Agca may have been lethally present. Agca's picture in West German papers, police say, bore a startling resemblance to composite sketches of an unknown killer in two murders of Turks in West Germany: the stabbing death of a journalist in Reutlingen near the Black Forest and the shooting of a grocer in the Bavarian town of Kempten. A witness to that shooting said last week the murderer had asked the victim, "Do you know Agca?" and killed him before he could answer.

There are some 1.5 million Turks in West Germany,

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