Turkish ultranationalist Mehmet Ali Ağca, convicted of the murder of journalist Abdi İpekçi and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, has recently revealed that he was sponsored by an unidentified donor in Europe for his anti-Vatican activities and views.
“In Europe, there’s a ‘gavur’ [infidel] who sees all the evils of the Vatican and hates the Vatican. There are records of this, there are bank records. … It was a very good donation that will be enough for the next 20 years,” he said without disclosing the identity of the donor or in what country in Europe he or she is located.
The revelation was made on March 13 during an interview with Oda-TV, a conspiracy-peddling, propagandist media outlet under the control of Turkish intelligence agency MIT. Asked how he supports himself financially, Ağca said a donor in Europe, a non-Turk, had made a huge lump sum deposit to his account in Turkey that would cover his expenses for the next two decades.
He said the money was sent because the donor admired his work and shares a similar anti-Vatican perspective. The Turkish state knows all about the funds, he emphasized.
The convicted killer also disclosed that he was about to make more money on a planned TV series which he claimed would expose how the US, NATO and the CIA plotted to topple the Soviet Union with lies and smears. He named Netflix as the platform that would broadcast the series if and when the project becomes reality.
Released from prison in 2010 after serving a 30-year sentence, Ağca has already cashed in on his notoriety by agreeing to sit for paid interviews. He said he had earned tens of thousands of euros for such interviews arranged by foreign networks. He also said he earned some money from books he wrote even though they included many contradictions and inconsistencies and were found to be not credible.
Ağca’s name recently came to public attention after the leak of a video from a private gathering of mafia leaders and organized crime figures during which the upcoming elections in Turkey were discussed and how Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan needs to retain power so that criminals can continue build their illegal enterprises.
In the video Ağca is seen as a revered figure who was listened to with respect by shady figures sitting in the chairs and couches with their bodyguards standing on the edge of the large living room. In the conversation, the mafia leaders bragged about controlling the streets of Turkey while President Erdoğan consolidated his power and dominated critical institutions such as the police that are supposed to fight against the mafia.
The meeting raised fears among the opposition bloc in Turkey amid alleged assassination plots brewing in dark circles that would target Erdoğan’s political opponents. The claim of an assassination attempt on the life of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the opposition candidate challenging Erdoğan in the May 14 election, was first made by Alaattin Aldemir, the former head of far-right nationalist group the Gray Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları) on March 7. Aldemir, who now serves as an advisor to Kılıçdaroğlu, said he received a tip from a source who claimed an attempt would be made on Kılıçdaroğlu’s life through a mafia group.
This is not the first time Kılıçdaroğlu has faced a threat from a mafia group aligned with the Erdoğan government. On November 17, 2020, Alaattin Çakıcı, Turkey’s most notorious mob boss who was convicted and served time on multiple charges, from organized crime to drug trafficking, vowed in a handwritten statement posted on Twitter to punish Kılıçdaroğlu. Insulting the politician as an “ignorant informant who serves traitors like a dog,” the mafia leader threatened to kill him with impalement.
Calling Kılıçdaroğlu “dürzü,” a slang word in Turkish meaning scoundrel or pimp, he wrote, “If you exceed your boundaries while I’m alive, I will introduce you to the bean stake [impale you].”
The mob boss, who had worked with the Turkish intelligence agency in the past, was released from prison thanks to an Erdoğan government amnesty. He consolidated other mafia groups to support the government by maintaining a climate of fear for opponents, dissidents and critics of the government.
Ağca is one of Çakıcı’s associates who met him after he got out of prison. He said he is currently working on a social media project to disseminate his views.
Diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, Ağca at one time even claimed that he was the Messiah. “I am speaking to all mankind as Messiah Mehmet Ali Ağca, the first universal servant and spokesperson of the one God who created the universe and directs it,” he wrote a note when filling orders for his books from his prison cell.
After murdering journalist İpekçi on February 1, 1979, Ağca was convicted and sent to prison to serve a life sentence, but escaped less than six months into the sentence, reportedly with help from Turkish authorities. He fled to Bulgaria, Austria and Spain before emerging at the Vatican two years later and shooting the pope in the abdomen, left hand and right arm. The pope survived because the bullets missed his vital organs.
Ağca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the 1981 attack on the pope and in 2000 was extradited to Turkey, where he completed a 10-year sentence for killing İpekçi in 1979. After his release from prison in January 2010, he settled in Istanbul and lives in the Beylikduzu district on the European side of the city.
The motive for the attempted assassination of the pope was never fully clarified, and the network that supported Ağca and his associates has not been uncovered. He gave conflicting accounts every time he was questioned by the Italian police. On the murder of the journalist, Ağca said he never regretted killing him.