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East Lansing man has 2nd brush with terror

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
Patrick Anderson, CEO, Anderson Economic Group, speaks during the Automation Alley 2015 Technology Industry Outlook conference in February 2015 in Detroit.

Patrick Anderson knows what it’s like to experience an act of terrorism. On Sept. 11, 2001, the East Lansing economist escaped from the Marriott Hotel in World Trade Center Tower 3 when the first plane struck.

On Sunday, Anderson found himself in another brush with terrorism, having spent time on the same street where days later a suicide car-bomb went off near bus stops in Turkey’s capital, Ankara. The blast killed at least 34 people and wounded many others.

“I have a particular appreciation for the experience that people near terrorism or affected by it go through,” said Anderson, 56, from Istanbul, where he returned after spending three days in Ankara.

Anderson, who runs Anderson Economic Group, said he was in the capital meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and other government officials to discuss U.S. and Turkish trade and investment.

Anderson said that after the explosion he spent the next two hours getting in contact with those who knew he was traveling to Turkey to let them know he was safe.

“My family went through that already,” he said.

Among the dead in the bombing Sunday are believed to be two assailants. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were “strong indications” that the attack was carried out by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In addition to at least 34 fatalities, 125 were wounded, officials said. The site of the explosion was on Ankara’s main boulevard, close to ministries.

The attack further complicated Turkey’s place in the region as it battles a host of enemies across its borders including the Syrian government, Kurdish rebels in both Iraq and Syria, and the Islamic State group, even after being forced to absorb 2.7 million refugees from the conflict.

Turkey is also battling the PKK, a Kurdish group fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for three decades. A fragile, 21/2-year peace process broke down in July. Turkey blames the PKK, saying it was inspired by the success of the Kurdish militia forces in Syria against Islamic State in the city of Kobani and elsewhere. The PKK blames Turkey for failing to deliver on promises.

With Ankara’s proximity to Syria, Anderson said safety was a concern prior to his trip.

“It certainly entered my mind,” he said. “I thought it was important to go. I don’t want to be held captive by fear.”

Anderson said the resolve he saw in the United States following Sept. 11 he sees in the Turkish people.

“They certainly live on the edge,” he said. “They’re determined. I admire them for that.”

Anderson said he expects to return to the United States Wednesday.

“I'll be quite happy to see American soil again ...” he said. “This reminds me of how precious our freedom is in the United States.”


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.