FBI investigating possible Turkish plot to assassinate American pastor

Andrew Brunson was imprisoned in Turkey for two years on false terrorism charges.The Christian Post

The FBI is reportedly investigating a possible assassination plot to murder an American pastor who was imprisoned in Turkey for two years on terrorism charges. 

Andrew Brunson was freed and allowed to return to the US in October 2018 after Turkey came under intense diplomatic pressure from the Trump administration. He had been serving as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church at the time of his arrest.

Now a mob boss has claimed he was asked by the Turkish government to murder Brunson.  

Serkan Kurtuluş made the astonishing claim a month after his arrest in Argentina in June, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.

He claimed that members of Izmir AKP approached him to assassinate Brunson with the aim of blaming the Gulen movement, an Islamic community in Turkey at odds with the AKP - the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Brunson was accused by Turkey of links to the Gulen movement, which is named after its leader, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey is attempting to have Kurtuluş extradited from Argentina to stand trial over the alleged supply of illegal firearms in Syria and the death of a Russian pilot in 2015. 

While Kurtuluş has claimed asylum in Argentina, the FBI is reported to have asked the country to question him over his claims regarding Brunson. 

ICC said Argentina has not yet responded to the request.

Commenting on Kurtuluş' claims, ICC said: "Many regard Brunson's imprisonment as an attempt by Turkey to force the US to extradite Gulen. 

"His imprisonment shows how Christians in Turkey are often used for political maneuvering by the authorities, who have no regard for religious freedom.

"Whether or not Kurtuluş' claim is true, it shows how the Turkish authorities' approach towards Christians can be integrated into the social mindset."