On This Day

Mehmet Ali Ağca

Profession: Attempted Assassin of John Paul II


Why Famous: Ağca is infamous for having murdered left-wing journalist Abdi İpekçi in 1979 and then, in 1981, for shooting and wounding Pope John Paul II.

His involvement in this attempt to assassinate the Pope has led to numerous theories with no conclusive answers. An early theory, for instance, that the Soviet Union had directed the attack, has been widely labelled as disinformation pushed by American journalists as part of the Cold War.

Ağca was born in Turkey where he became involved in crime from a young age, he later progressed on to smuggling and then received training in weaponry and tactics. Following this, he went to work for the Grey Wolves, a Turkish ultranationalist group. It was under orders from this group that he murdered Abdi İpekçi, for which he was sentenced to life in prison.

He subsequently escaped from prison and began moving through the Mediterranean, ultimately arriving in Rome where he would attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II.

Later, while Ağca was in prison for this assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II came to visit him and the two became friends. When the Pope was reported sick in 2005, Ağca wrote him a letter wishing him well and warning him of the impending eschaton.

Born: January 9, 1958
Birthplace: Hekimhan, Turkey
Age: 63 years old

Generation: Baby Boomer
Chinese Zodiac: Rooster
Star Sign: Capricorn

Historical Events

  • 1979-11-28 Pope John Paul II's first papal visit to Turkey, almost 1 1/2 years before Turkish native Mehmet Ali Agca attempts to kill him
  • 1981-07-22 Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca sentenced to life imprisonment in a court in Rome, Italy
  • 1983-12-27 Pope John Paul II pardons man who shot him (Mehmet Ali Agca)
  • 2000-06-13 Italy pardons Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981
  • 2006-01-12 Turkey releases Mehmet Ali Ağca from jail after he served 25 years for shooting Pope John Paul II

Famous Assassins