January 13, 2010 / 10:47 AM / 11 years ago

Pope John Paul II gunman calls for "new American Empire"

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The man who tried to kill Pope John Paul II called for a “new American Empire” championing peace and democracy in a rambling statement issued by his lawyers Wednesday before his release from prison next week.

Turkish police accompanying Mehmet Ali Agca (C), the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, are mobbed by the media as they arrive at police department in Istanbul January 20, 2006. REUTERS/Ahmet Ada

Former far-right gangster Mehmet Ali Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the 1981 assassination attempt before being pardoned at the pope’s behest in 2000 and extradited to serve time for other crimes in his native Turkey.

“The world needs a new American Empire that must become the center of and the leader of international democracy, peace and freedom,” Agca wrote.

The 52-year-old failed assassin also condemned terrorism, and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in particular.

Mystery surrounds his motives for shooting the pope in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square. Some believe he was a hitman for Soviet-era East European security services alarmed by the Polish-born pontiff’s fierce opposition to communism.

John Paul II died in 2005.

Following his scheduled release on January 18, Agca said he would answer questions on the attack in the coming weeks, including whether the Kremlin used the Bulgarian government in the assassination attempt, the statement said.

There has been talk of possible book and film deals on Agca’s experience.


Since his extradition to Turkey, he has served time in an Istanbul jail for the 1979 murder of liberal newspaper editor Abdi Ipekci and other charges dating from the 1970s.

“Terrorism is the Evil of Devil. All religions prohibit and condemn terrorism. The al Qaeda is a psychopathic criminal Nazi organization,” Agca wrote in an open letter issued by his lawyers.

Agca went on to name bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan and Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot as “the common enemies of all religions and all nations in the world.”

Wednesday’s statement also called for President Barack Obama to live up to the Nobel Peace Prize, which he accepted last month.

He has described himself in the past as being of no political orientation but is known to have been a member of the far-right Turkish Grey Wolves group.

In the past he has also claimed to be the Messiah and according to recent media reports has said he would proclaim the end of the world, raising questions about his mental health.

Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Charles Dick

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