President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the attacker who attacked the Turkish diplomatic building with a crowbar a “terrorist”.
US police have arrested a man accused of attacking Turkey’s diplomatic headquarters in New York with a crowbar and smashing its windows, law enforcement said.
Friday’s arrest came amid condemnations from U.S. and Turkish officials. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this week called on US authorities to find the perpetrator, calling him a “terrorist”.
The New York Police Department identified the suspect in an email to Al Jazeera as 29-year-old Recep Akbiyik. He faces multiple charges, including attempted burglary, criminal possession of a weapon, terrorist threats, criminal mischief and threatening, according to a police spokesperson.
Turkish media previously reported that Akbiyik was a Turkish citizen who left Turkey a year ago. His motives remain unclear.
Footage shared by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency showed a man dressed in black and wearing a hat hitting the glass facade of the building with a crowbar early on Monday.
The facility, a skyscraper near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, is known as the Turkish House. It houses the Turkish consulate in the city and its mission to the UN.
The attack took place nearly a week before Turkey second round of the presidential election between Erdogan and opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
New York’s Turkish Expats Voted in the elections at the Turkish House this week. Voting in Türkiye will take place on Sunday. Erdogan ranked first in the opening round to vote earlier this month but failed to secure the majority needed for an outright victory.
Politicians show their support
In response to the attack, New York City Mayor Eric Adams visited Turkish House on Monday and met with Turkish diplomats in the city.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, also called the incident a “heinous attack” on Monday.
“We expect the United States to immediately identify the perpetrators and provide the necessary protection to ensure the security of our diplomatic missions. My thoughts are with my colleagues who are working tirelessly abroad for Turkey, including this election period,” he wrote in a tweet earlier this week, using the official Turkish government spelling for the Turkey.
The US State Department said its Diplomatic Security Service is working with local law enforcement on the investigation. “We condemn vandalism,” spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
Jeff Flake, the US ambassador to Turkey, also denounced the attack.
We condemn Monday’s vandalism against the Turkish House in New York. We are working with local law enforcement authorities on the investigation and to advocate for the safety and security of these facilities and the diplomats who work there.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 22, 2023
The United States and Turkey are NATO allies, but in recent years there has been friction between the two countries, including over Washington’s support for Kurdish groups in Syria.
Amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, Turkey helped negotiate an agreement to continue exporting Ukrainian grain, and US officials have consistently stressed the importance of its alliance with Turkey.