Libyan Jihadist Cells In Turkey Protected By Erdoğan Regime

It was hardly surprising to find out Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi (22), a British of Libyan origin, has footprints all over in Turkey before travelling back and forth from Syria as it was revealed by the German intelligence in an exclusive story by the Financial Times. That would add to a growing list of Jihadists who were in Turkey before coming back to terrorize European populations and to kill indiscriminately from Brussels to Paris, from Stockholm to St. Petersburg.

I have written extensively on how the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan empowered Islamists in Libya by pouring arms and funds but also the ways in which he managed to recruit Libyan Jihadists to fight his dirty war in Turkey’s neighborhood by facilitating their travel. Against the background of what happened in the attack during a concert by the pop singer Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena that killed 22 and injured 64, perhaps we need to take another look on Turkish government role in Libya and movement of Libyan Jihadists through Turkish territory.

The confidential wiretap records maintained by the intelligence on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) suspects in Turkey reveals that Libyan militants were intimately involved in the trafficking of jihadists with a political cover provided by Erdoğan’s government. One of the key ISIL operatives in Turkey is a man named Farag H. Hamad Ali, a 36-year old Libyan national who has connections to ISIL groups in Libya’s third largest city of Misrata. He was working with other Arab nationals to move fighters in and out of Syria using Turkey as a conduit, providing logistical supplies. The intel indicates he also set up an operation in Cyprus. Although Faraq was detained in Turkey on July 10, 2015, named as a suspect in an ISIL indictment filed by İstanbul prosecutor, he was later released.

The wiretap records show Farag worked closely with another ISIL trafficker and procurement person named Mohammed Elsayed Eltokhy Salim Elshiemy (aka Abdulhakem Mısırlı), a 26-year-old Colombia-born Egyptian national. Although both men were spotted by authorities while exchanging money and arrested, they were later let go after the backroom deals. For example, in a wiretap recorded on March 7, 2015 at 12:09 p.m., Elshiemy was shopping for night vision binoculars in İstanbul’s Karaköy district. He was told by Farag that a 50,000 euro transfer was made for him to purchase military-grade goggles. In another wiretap recorded on March 6, 2015 at 12:31 p.m., Elshiemy asked a man identified as Abu Davud to supply weapons for ISIL.

Elshiemy had also arranged for fraudulent passports and secured visas for ISIL sleeper agents who were sent to Europe to identify targets and scout the area. For example, in a wiretap dated Oct. 15, 2014 at 17:49 p.m., Elshiemy asked for a fraudulent Libyan passport to move a person illegally. They were securing official Turkish visa stamps by bribing Turkish authorities. The government in Turkey knew all about these networks but cracking down on them has never been a priority. Only after intense pressure from the NATO allies as well as Russia and China did Erdoğan government pretend to be cracking down on Jihadist militants, only to secure their release after quick roundups. In the meantime, however, the police, intelligence and courts have been busy in hunting down Erdoğan’s legitimate critics in Kurdish political movement, secular and leftist groups and the Gülen movement.

As a result, today’s Turkey has been transformed into a safe sanctuary for all sorts of radical groups including al-Qaeda and ISIL that use Turkish territory to raise recruits, funding, logistical supplies and arms. Turkish government has not only aided and abetted these groups in what is seen as Erdoğan’s personal and dirty war to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad from power but also threaten other neighbors, partners and even allies with these proxy groups.

SADAT head Adnan Tanrıverdi frequently visited Libya.
In parallel to what Iran has done for decades, Turkish Islamists – who are greatly influenced by Iranian experiment during their youth years by the way- also turned to this clandestine policy of creating own proxies by investing in radical groups in Turkey and abroad. Just like Iran airlifted many militants of Islamic Courts Union (ICU), the godfather of the al-Shabaab militia, from Somalia to fight on its behalf during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War in exchange for $2,000 monthly payments to their families, Erdoğan and his henchmen offered $2,000 monthly salary for each Libyan fighter who joined ISIL and the al-Qaeda network. Contractors especially Erdoğan’s secret paramilitary force SADAT would get $10,000 commission for each fighter who signed up for the fight.

This deal was asked by a lawmaker in January 2015 in Parliament but then foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had not responded to it despite he was obligated to answer parliamentary questions within two weeks. In fact, then Libyan interim and internationally recognized government led by Abdullah al-Thinni filed repeated grievances with Turkish government on this issue, forwarded own intelligence reports that included names of Turkish national who had been involved in trafficking of Jihadists from Libya to Turkey. When it was unable to obtain a change of behavior in Erdoğan government, Libya decided to expel Turkish nationals on February 2015 as a protest to Turkish government’s position. According to Turkey’s main opposition party figures in 2015, some 50,000 Jihadists were sheltered in Turkey with most of them from Libya and Russia.

Imkan-Der head Murat Özer met with Islamist groups in Libya.
Two NGOs were used by Turkish government to run the recruitment line from Libya to Syria. One is İmkan-Der, an İstanbul-based NGO, believed to be aligned with al-Nusra front, Ahrar ash-Sham & Jaysh al-Islam. Murat Özer, the head of İmkan-Der, visited Libya and met Islamist groups there. It runs logistical support for Turkey-backed Sultan Murad Brigades that fights against Assad forces in the northern Syria. It has only one branch which is located at the border province Gaziantep from where it runs logistical lines to Syria. It set up a hospital in the same city to treat wounded Jihadists in addition to a make-shift hospital on the Syrian side of the border.

Russia asked the UN on Sept. 2013 to list İmkan-Der in UNSC 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee list as al-Qaeda supporter, but the motion was vetoed by the United States and opposed by Azerbaijan. In a letter submitted to the UN on 10 Feb.2016, Russia again named İmkan-Der as supporter of terror in Syria, claiming how Turkish government used İmkan-Der as a front to send weapons to Jihadists in Syria. It is amazing how İmkan-Der, a staunch supporter of Erdoğan government, has been able to secure the release of many detained Jihadists from Turkish jails by lobbying the government. When Turkish troops and opposition fighters took over Jarablus during Syria incursion, it was İmkan-Der that was called upon to transform the Syrian town.

Another NGO used by Turkish government to send arms to Libya is controversial charity group the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which is closely backed by Erdoğan. The document, revealed from the authenticated email communications of Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is now energy minister, came to light when the owner of a bankrupt sea shipping and container company asked for compensation from the Turkish government over damage his ship sustained while transporting arms between Libyan ports on the order of authorities in Ankara in 2011.

UN traced weapons bound for Libya to Turkey.
The letter revealed all the details of a Turkish government-approved arms shipment to rebels in a ship contracted by IHH. In a letter dated March 9, 2016, a UN Security Council panel of experts concluded that arms shipments to Libya have been going on mainly from Turkey. The UN experts traced weapons in Libya to Turkish companies and discovered that the Turkish government deliberately tried to mislead the investigation into a Turkish ship carrying arms destined for Libyan Islamist factions. The ship, the Haddad 1, registered in Bolivia, was seized in September 2015 by the Greek coast guard while transporting a concealed arms shipment from Turkey to Libya.

The Turkish President’s secret paramilitary force called SADAT led by a retired Islamist general, Lt. Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi who is also the chief military aide to Erdoğan, has been involved in clandestine training of Libyan militants for some time. This man has visited Libya many times, meeting with renegade Libyan officers and receiving red carpet treatment during each visit by the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli.

Some of these rebels were later transported from Libya to Turkey to join Erdoğan’s clandestine army to fight against his enemies. Tanrıverdi played a key role in purging pro-NATO officers from Turkish military following what appears to be a false flag coup bid that helped Erdoğan set up his critics and opponents in the government for mass purges. The dismissed officers were replaced by Islamists and neo-nationalists.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Did Turkey’s Intel Have Anything To Do With A Bomb Attack On Jetliner?

Abdullah Bozkurt/Ahmet Dönmez

A suicide bombing attack aboard a civilian passenger jet in Mogadishu on Feb 2, 2016 that forced the plane to land with a gaping hole on its fuselage has been traced back to a Turkish travel company that is seen close to the government circles.

The reservation for the ticket in the name of Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a Somalia national who boarded a plane with a bomb hidden in a laptop which exploded at 11,000 feet, was made by a travel agency identified as Mirza Tur which is allegedly linked to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) of Turkey. The accusation that Turkish government stonewalled the probe into this company has cast further shadow on possible role played by groups linked to the Turkish government. The attack which was claimed by al-Shabab, prompted a global investigation led by the Interpol and assisted by the UN experts as well as the FBI investigators.

The fact that the management of the Mogadishu airport Borleh boarded the plane was under a Turkish company that is very close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not escape from the scrutiny either.

Mirza Tur owner Mehmet Öğütçüoğlu posing in Somalia.
The PNR (passenger name record) code for the bomber’s ticket was generated by Turkish company Mirza Tur that received the initial order from the client and later forwarded to an Angolan travel company Eurostral Limitada to process the ticket based on the reservation details. Turkish government has refused to cooperate with Angolan authorities who wanted to investigate Mirza Tur and its owners and declined to respond to repeated inquiries to that effect, according to Angolan police officer who was involved in the investigation.

Instead, two Turkish nationals who has been living in Angola for years and thought they were acting as brokers for a legitimate travel business between the two companies appear to have been made a fall guy for the terror attack and sentenced to a long prison time in rushed court proceedings. The case was hushed-up in a criminal lawsuit in Angola by scapegoating unsuspecting middlemen while real culprits and accomplices for the incident remained protected in Turkey.

Mirza Tur owner Mehmet Öğütçüoğlu visited Iran.
Mirza Tur, a relatively new company that was set up in 2010 as a start-up business, has quickly developed to become a major player in hospitality and travel industry reportedly. The company has branches in Iran and Sudan, the two countries that the United States Department of State designated as state sponsors of terrorism. It is owned by a 32-year old man named Mehmet Öğütçüoğlu who declares himself as a nationalist figure and presents himself as an ardent supporter of Turkish president Erdogan. In his published photos include his picture with a Turkish minister while taking an award for services his company has rendered or having a lunch with him.

Despite the fact it was this company that made the reservations for the bomber, there was no investigation launched against the company or Öğütçüoğlu who has the majority shareholder in the family run business entity. No trial was ever conducted into his alleged involvement in the attempt to take down a civilian airline plane that was claimed by al-Qaeda affiliated terror group al-Shabab. His personal web page shows Öğütçüoğlu made a trip to Somalia, and pictured in a photo standing next to Somalia security forces.

The suicide bomber had also a Turkish visa from the embassy of Turkey in Mogadishu that received a recommendation letter to facilitate a visa for Borleh from the Somalian embassy in Ankara. Although Somalian embassy denied ever sending such letter, Turkish embassy did not respond to repeated calls by the Associated Press reporter who wanted to verify the letter after the incident occurred.

It is no secret that Turkey has a special focus in Somalia and maintains the largest embassy building complex ever run by a foreign government in Mogadishu to coordinate its large scale operations in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Turkish President Erdoğan appointed a staunchly Islamist doctor, Cemalettin Kani Torun, as a non-career ambassador to Mogadishu in 2011 to develop policies with respect to Horn of Africa.

According to a Turkish government insider and an anonymous whistleblower that uses Fuat Avni as his handle on Twitter, Torun met al-Shabab terror leaders secretly and sold them arms. He was rewarded for his services by Erdoğan who later appointed him as his chief adviser in 2014 and made him a deputy in Parliament a year later. He is currently serving as deputy chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission. Torun has also lobbied with Somalian government to secure a contract to run Mogadishu airport for a Turkish joint venture company which is led by ex-military Turkish man.

ANGOLA LINK TO THE BOMBER

The ticket itinerary issued by Angolan travel agency at the request of Turkish travel company Mirza Tur which is reportedly linked to Turkish intelligence agency.
The scheme run by Mirza Tur in Africa on behalf of Turkish intelligence has links to Angola where a local company was used to process tickets after the PNR codes were generated and reservations made in İstanbul. The codes were then sent to a Turkish businessman in Angola who in turn asked an Angolan travel company to process tickets based on the PNR codes.

It appears İbrahim Gökhan Karadöl (36), a Turkish national who has been living in Angola for seven years, was an unsuspecting merchant in this scheme. Karadöl was approached by Mirza Tur owner in December 2015 and asked whether he can find a local company to

İbrahim Gökhan Karadöl with his wife and child.
process ticket sales for reservations made in Turkey. He was offered to make some money in the transactions, mainly from the currency exchange differences between Angolan and Turkish markets as well as commissions. According to the agreed deal, Öğütçüoğlu would have covered Karadöl’s debt payments back in Turkey where he owed some money from his troubled machinery sale business. In return, Karadöl would cover ticket sales out of his own pocket and pay to the local travel company in Angola in local currency.

Karadöl thought he was making money on a legitimate business and was simply acting as a middleman between a travel agency Mirza Tur in Turkey and Angolan travel agency Eurostral Limitada which is owned by a French national Laurent Jean Marie Lepetit and located in the district of Talatona in Angolan capital Luanda. He enlisted the help of Eljan Tushdiev (29), a Georgian national who has been working as an English teacher at Colegio Esperanca International since 2012.

Tushdiev knew the travel agency Eurostral Limitada and was even earning commissions when he was referring clients to the company for ticket purchases. Karadöl made a deal with Eurostral Limitada on five percent commission on each ticket he would bring for the processing. The business took off in middle of January and they were purchasing some 15 to 20 tickets on daily average per orders from Mirza Tur.

Karadöl and his partner Tushdiev — who left his teaching career to work with him — thought they were making some money and all were legitimate. But their hopes were

dashed when one of the name forwarded by Mirza Tur turned out to be a bomber Borleh who wanted to destroy a jetliner with all the passengers aboard. The business they started in middle January 2016 shattered only some 20 days later when the business scheme hit the wall with the news of the Borleh appearing in the boking list they received from Turkey.

They had no idea that PNR codes sent by Mirza Tur on January 27, 2016 via Viber messaging application included Borleh’s name as a passenger who booked the flight. Just as they had done for other orders filled by Mirza Tur, they also processed the ticket for Borleh when the reservation code 1A – MUC005210074 – A002 was forwarded to them from İstanbul, resulting in purchase of e-ticket no. 235 249 328 484 6.

Eljan Tushdiev with his wife and two children.
In fact, when Borleh blew himself up on Feb.2 on the flight no.159 that was operated by Dubai-based Daallo Airlines between Mogadishu and Djibouti, Karadöl and Tushdiev did not even realize the ticket sold to the bomber, booked by Mirza Tur and processed by Eurostral Limitada, was among the ones they helped get processed. They continued attending to their businesses as usual without knowing that the investigation into the incident will eventually trace back to them. At times, Karadöl was even using his personal credit cards to make payments to Eurostral Limitada for the processing of PNR booking codes he received from Mirza Tur even after the incident.

Both of them were arrested on February 11 by Angolan authorities as part of the investigation led by police chief Destino Pedro who works at the Interpol section of the Angolan police department. They were put in Hospital Prisao de Sao Paulo prison. A criminal lawsuit filed against them and they were convicted to serve 15 years on March 21, 2016 by Luanda Provincial Court’s 4th Section of the Common Crimes Chamber on terror charges. No employees of Mirza Tur or Eurostral Limitada were indicted although they were the main facilitators in providing the ticket to Somalia bomber. It appears Karadöl and Tushdiev, unsuspecting entrepreneurs in this case, were made a fall guy and the case was hushed up.

There were so many questions remained unanswered around the case. Although there are documents confirming the relationship between Karadöl and Turkish company Mirza Tur are in fact a commercial nature, investigators in Angola were quick in jumping into conclusion that this was a terror link, limited their probe only to middlemen who facilitated the ticket sale without looking into main suspects at the either end of the ticket order and purchase.

The quick trial gives an impression that both men were scapegoated for something that they were not even aware of and the case was wrapped up quickly. Except the plane ticket that was ordered by Turkish company, there was no piece of evidence submitted to the court suggesting a connection between the bomber in Somalia and two Turkish nationals Karadöl and Tushdiev in Angola.

Police chief Pedro declined to respond 14-point questions we submitted to him and instead he simply said he was involved in the investigation stage and submitted all the findings in the case to the court. Öğütçüoğlu did not return our message to respond to the allegations.

We talked to the wife of Karadöl, Tunay Yüksel Karadöl who claimed that her husband was set up. She denied her husband has anything to do with terror, saying that İbrahim Karadöl continued running his business even after the bombing took place, paid the price of tickets with his personal credit cards, produced invoices in his name. “Do you think that fits a profile of a terrorist behavior?” she asked.

She pointed out that Mirza Tur is the one that sold the ticket to this particular client and the payment was processed in Angola. She said Mirza Tur owner Öğütçüoğlu must be number one suspect in this case yet she lamented no indictment filed against him and no application was made with Interpol with regard to his role as far as she knows.

Tunay Yüksel Karadöl also maintained that she later fund out through her contacts that Mirza Tur is connected to Turkish intelligence, works with Turkey’s Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), Turkish government development agency abroad that MİT often uses as a cover to shield the identity of its agents working overseas.

MEHMET ÖĞÜTÇÜOĞLU: A KEY MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF AL-QAEDA BOMBING

It is worthy to note that Mirza Tur owner Mehmet Öğütçüoğlu has quickly turned his small startup company he set up in 2010 İstanbul’s Karaköy district at the age of 25 into one of the top 100 travel agencies in Turkey where 8,300 agencies operate today. He dropped out of the university in 2006 and started working for a travel agency a year later. He says he prefers cash money and takes a risk in entering markets that are not tapped. That is how he explains his business branches in Sudan and Iran. He has also been expanding in Nigerian market in recent years.

Trade registry data for Mirza Tur shows a family owner company.
According to the trade registry database by the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTÖ), the company is officially listed as Mirza Uluslararası Organizasyon Turizm ve Otelcilik Ticaret Limited Şirketi with trade registry no.722617. It has TL3 million (equivalent of some $842,105) in paid capital and owned by Mehmet Öğütçüoğlu and his family members Fatma Öğütçüoğlu and Esra Nur Öğütçüoğlu. The company has increased its capital twice, one on Nov.22, 2013 and the other on March 4, 2016, just a month after Somalian bomber

The company increased its capital a month after the bombing take place in Mogadishu.
attempted to take down the airliner jet.

Öğütçüoğlu is a die-hard fan of Turkish President Erdoğan whom he sees on par with past Turkish Sultans Alpaslan and Fatih who conquered large lands in Asia and Europe. In a statement he issued from his own page in support of Erdoğan during the April 2016 referendum campaign that gave sweeping new powers to Turkish President, Öğütçüoğlu predicted a revival of major Turkish Islamic empire that will unite all Muslim and Turkish countries in the world against the US, EU, Russia and China. He bashed Vatican and claimed all non-Muslims do whatever Pope Francis tells them to do.

He has contacts in Somalia and even visited the place at least once. Since it was his company that received the order for the reservation of ticket for the bomber, he is a prime suspect in this case yet he appears to have been protected by the Turkish government. In photographs posted on his own personal web page and on company web pages, he was seen as receiving an award from Turkey’s Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Özlü.

In an interview he gave to Konya Yenigün newspaper on October 3, 2016, Öğütçüoğlu said he sees the Gülen movement as an ‘axis of evil’ and describes them as ‘traitors’ and ‘terrorists’ in line with Erdoğan and Turkey’s Islamist government narrative. Yet he strikes a deal with Karadöl who is known to be among supporters of a school affiliated with the movement in Angola. Although this represented a contradiction, Karadöl’s wife says she has an explanation for this. She claims Öğütçüoğlu framed his husband with the instructions from the Turkish intelligence to smear the Gülen movement.

It is no secret that Turkish government has been lobbying to convince foreign governments to crack down on the volunteers and participants of the Gülen movement (also known as Hizmet), asking them to shut down schools and other institutions affiliated with the peaceful civic group.

Turkish President Erdoğan started describing the movement as illegal structure first and later as a terrorist organization, following the expose on major corruption investigations on December 2013 that implicated Erdoğan and his family members in billions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks. Gülen who criticized Erdoğan and his government for corruption suddenly became a foe for Erdoğan. The fact that Gülen also remained opposed to Turkey’s interference into Syrian domestic affairs and is critical of Erdoğan’s arming and funding of radical Jihadist groups has drawn the ire of Erdoğan since 2011 when Syrian civil war started.

As part its global campaign of persecution and harassment, Turkish government reportedly asked Angolan government to shut down Hizmet-linked school Colegio Esperanca International, deport all Turkish nationals believed to be affiliated with Gülen. Karadöl’s wife claims the conviction of her husband and his partner was also among the demands made by the Turkish government. She believes the conviction of her husband on false charges is part of plot devised by Turkish intelligence.

Police chief Destino Pedro who works for the Interpol section in Angolan Police department.
She also said Interpol’s police officer Pedro told her that her husband had nothing to do with the terror act in Somalia and Angolan investigation concluded that this was likely a deliberate plot cooked up in Turkey and predicted that her husband would quickly be released in a month-time with a financial penalty. According to her recollection, Pedro also told her that neither Turkish government nor the Turkish Embassy in Angola have responded to their repeated inquiries with regard to accomplices in the ticket booking, especially Mirza Tur owner and employees. Tunay Yüksel Karadöl believe her family has become a victim of Erdoğan’s witch-hunt campaign targeting his critics and opponents abroad.

Turkish President Erdoğan started targeting Gülen and his movement openly after the major corruption dragnet was exposed, and even accused Hizmet of being behind the failed coup of July 15 that he himself called as gift from the God. Gülen, however, rejected the accusations and has called for an independent international commission to be set up to investigate the coup attempt. The Turkish government has failed to present any direct evidence linking the cleric or the movement to the abortive coup.

TURKEY IS UNCOOPERATIVE

Despite inquiries from Angola, Turkish government refused to cooperate in deepening the investigation into the bombing incident in Somalia. Neither Öğütçüoğlu nor the other employees of the company were investigated by the authorities in Turkey, suggesting that this was a clandestine operation that somehow involved Turkish elements and that Ankara wanted to cover this up.

Tunay Yüksel Karadöl said she personally met with Angolan police chief Pedro and talked to him through a translator. According to her account, Pedro told her he suspected the involvement of Turkish state and found it bizarre that Turkish authorities have not responded to Angolan officials’ inquiries. He also said he believes Karadöl and Tushdiev are used in this plot and they were caught up in scheme without knowing what was happening.

Pedro said Turkish government is making very difficult for them to make a progress on this case. He said normally Turkish government should have shown interest in this case when Turkish nationals are involved and asked what evidence Angolan authorities have against their own citizens. Yet he lamented that neither the Turkish government nor the Turkish embassy in Angola have taken an interest in the case.

TURKISH AIRLINES WAS SUPPOSED TO FLY BOMBER

The flight on Feb. 2 was supposed to be operated by Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) but the airline cancelled it reportedly because of bad weather from a previous departure point according to various wire reports. Instead, Daallo Airlines was used with an hour delay. “If the bomb had gone off at cruising altitude, as it might have if it was rigged to a timing device set to coincide with the original flight time, the result could have been catastrophic, with the plane possibly disintegrating because of the vast difference between air pressure inside and outside at 30,000-plus feet”, the Associated Press report filed on Feb.16, 2016, stated.

“Instead the blast happened earlier, at a lower altitude. Borleh was the only fatality and the plane’s controls were unaffected by the blast allowing the pilot able to fly the plane back to Mogadishu safely,” it added.

Reuters and AFP also reported on Feb.8, 2016 that Mohamed Yassin, Daallo Airlines chief executive, as saying that most of the passengers who were on the bombed flight were scheduled to fly with Turkish Airlines, but were ferried to Djibouti by one of his planes after the Turkish carrier cancelled its flight. “That particular passenger [who was behind the blast] boarded the aircraft on a Turkish Airlines boarding pass and was on the list for the Turkish Airlines manifest,” Yassin said. He said Daallo picked up the 70 stranded Turkish Airlines passengers – including the suicide bomber – to fly them to Djibouti. Turkish Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2012, Turkish Airlines became the first major international commercial airline to fly out of Somalia in more than two decades after Turkey started showing a keen interest in rebuilding Somalia. CCTV footage released by the Somali National Intelligence Agency (Nisa) appears to show two airport workers in military uniforms inside the terminal handing the suicide bomber a lap top stuffed with explosives, according to the government spokesman Abdisalam Aato.

The US ban on air travelers from ten Middle Eastern countries including Turkey carrying elec­tronic devices such as laptops with them in passenger cabins appears to be linked to this incident for which the FBI investigators were also involved in probing it. The ban, imposed in March included Turkish Airlines (THY) as well to the surprise and dismay of Turkish officials. Security experts say the bomb carried in a laptop was a test-run by al-Qaeda that is trying to come up with new ways of attacks on airlines.

On March 2016, less than a month after the Daallo bombing, al-Shabab attempted to smuggle two bombs — one hidden in a laptop, the other in a printer and both containing high­ly explosive Pentaerythritol tetran­itrate (PETN), aboard aircraft at a Somali regional airport at Beledw­eyne, 325km north of Mogadishu. The printer was found and de­fused but the bomb in the lap­top exploded prematurely on the ground, wounding six people.

THE UN DID NOT DISCLOSE THE CONFIDENTIAL REPORT

The bombing of the flight 159 was also covered by the report submitted to the United Nations Security Council by the the Chair of the Security Council Committee on October 7, 2016 as part of its monitoring on Somalia and Eritrea. The report sounded alarm bells by saying that “while Al-Shabaab used an improvised explosive device concealed in a laptop in at least one known previous attack in Mogadishu in November 2013, this is the first known case in which it directly targeted an aircraft.”

UN Security Council Monitoring Committee on Somalia said tha attack demonstrated important connections between Al-Shabaab and certain international actors.
It noted that “the choice of a Somali businessman as a suicide bomber, the extensive operational security measures implemented, including the apparent assassination of some of the conspirators in the wake of the attack, together with indications that Al-Shabaab is likely to have had external assistance in the construction of the device, reflect an evolution of the group’s tactics, techniques and procedures. The attack followed reports received by the Monitoring Group that Al-Shabaab was working to enhance its capability to target aviation interests, increasing the need for effective aviation security measures in Somalia and the region.”

The UN report concluded that “the attack also demonstrated important connections between Al-Shabaab and certain international actors” and said the findings of the Monitoring Group on the attack are kept strictly confidential.

TURKISH COMPANY OPERATES MOGADISHU AIRPORT

Muddying the waters more, on September 15, 2013, a Turkish company called Favori L.L.C took over the management of the Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport where the bomber Borleh got on the plane. It came as a surprise for industry observers that Favori LLC, a joint venture established in 2012 by Turkish businessmen Ahmet Çetin & Süleyman Kozuva, had no experience in airport management and ground handling services yet it was awarded the contract by the Somalian cabinet amid major corruption allegations in $1.8 million that implicated Somalian government officials. A Dubai based SKA which has been managing the operation of the airport since 2010 was forcefully kicked out from the airport and Favori L.L.C, took over the operations.

Süleyman Kozuva appeared in the photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkish businessman Süleyman Kozuva leads a construction company called Kardeşler Yapı Grup in Turkey while Ahmet Çetin owns Çetin group which primarily provides private security services. Ahmet Çetin (50) is an interesting character. He served in Turkish navy SAT marine commando before he was discharged in 1996 after a chopper accident during Kardak/Imia islet crisis between Turkey and Greece that brought the two countries to the brink of war.

He was tried as a suspect in Sledgehammer (Balyoz) case where the defendants are accused of attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government in 2003 by attempting to wreak havoc in Turkey with a series of planned provocations, including but not limited to assassinating non-Muslim minority leaders, triggering a war with neighboring Greece over disputes in the Aegean Sea and bombing major mosques in İstanbul.

Security firm owner, ex-military, Ahmet Çetin who has been involved in Mogadishu since 2011.
Çetin group was already providing security for Turkish Airlines in Mogadishu since 2011. In fact, Çetin sent his marine colleague Saadettin Doğan to oversee security operations for the THY in Mogadishu Airport. Doğan was killed in an attack by unknown gunmen on May 2014. Doğan was a suspect in Poyrazköy trial in Turkey which exposed a clandestine armed group nestled in Turkish military following the discovery of a stash of arms in İstanbul district. He was forced to leave the navy and started working for Çetin group.

Süleyman Kozuva is a businessman who is close to Turkish President Erdoğan who inaugurated the opening of the newly built terminal in Mogadishu on January 22, 2015. He has pictures shaking hands with Erdoğan. It appears both men were favored by Erdoğan who lobbied on behalf of their joint venture in gaining lucrative ten-year contract with a possibility of extending another ten years in Somalia.

The UN’s Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring group criticized the contract with Turkish company and questioned the terms of the agreement, saying that the contract is a technically poor deal for Somalia and represents “a case of potential abuse by a private entity.” It specifically highlighted that Favori which rebuilt the infrastructure and a new terminal at its own cost, can subsequently deduct all expenses from future income of the airport, without any agreed and clear mechanism for assessing the actual cost of the investment.

According to agreed deal, Favori receives 55 per cent of the net revenue and Somalia government gets 45 per cent from the net revenue. The problem is that the deal lacks precise terms and processes, allowing Favori to deduct inflated expenses and consequently diminish the government’s share of the net revenue. The UN found that Favori is deducting salary taxes as expenses and has also been making use of a depreciation deduction at up to USD 300,000 per month. “These processes were neither initially identified nor agreed upon with the FGS [Federal government of Somalis],” the UN underlined.

There is a mounting body of evidence suggesting a connection between the Turkish intelligence and Jihadist groups including al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). On January 2014, Turkish law enforcement agencies intercepted illegal arms shipments that were escorted by the intelligence MİT officials and that were carrying heavy arms to Jihadists in Syria. According to court documents, Turkish intelligence sent some 2,000 trucks full of arms to radical groups fighting in Syria.

The investigations into these unlawful shipments were thwarted by Erdoğan, who then turned the case around and accused prosecutors, police chiefs and military officers of espionage for exposing the illegal arms shipments. In another investigation that run out of the Eastern province Van in 2014 uncovered how Turkish intelligence MİT funded and armed al-Qaeda groups in Syria. That probe was also hushed-up by Erdoğan.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turkey Intel-Linked ISIL Man Posed As A Refugee, Went Through Greece, Registered In Germany

A chilling account of a suspect in the deadliest terror attack in Turkey that was blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) shows how ISIL militants can easily flee using the refugee routes through Greece and end up in European cities. The ISIL operative, apparently has links to Turkish intelligence, easily blended among refugees who crossed Europe and made his way back to Turkey after registering and living as a refugee for months in Germany.

His name is Suphi Alpfidan who was born on Nov.22, 1981 in Turkey’s border town Suruç in southeastern province Şanlıurfa. He was implicated in the case of a twin bombing that took place in Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015 — the deadliest terror attack ever to take place in Turkey, which killed 107 people including the two suicide bombers. The attack targeted NGOs and supporters of left-wing and pro-Kurdish parties holding a peace rally outside the capital’s main train station, weeks ahead of the Nov. 1, 2015 snap elections that gave Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party a chance to regain the majority in Parliament.

When forensic investigation discovered Alpfidan’s fingerprints inside the left rear door of the vehicle that was used as an escort vehicle to the car that was used in detonating bombs next to train station in downtown area of Turkish capital, he was issued an arrest warrant as an ISIL suspect. A report prepared by Gaziantep police crime scene investigation unit on October 23, 2015 with a case file No.2015/6286 confirmed that the fingerprint found in the car with a plate no.27 AVH 70 belonged to the right hand middle finger of Alpfidan who had been living in Şahinbey district in the southeastern province Gaziantep, a hotbed for ISIL militants.

Alpfidan knew most suspects involved in the bombing, provided them safe houses as real estate broker and secretly worked as informant with the Turkish intelligence. With so many causalities in the deadly suicide bombing, the attack created so much outrage in Turkey.

Feared about an imminent arrest, he fled Turkey in the first week of November right after the national elections. According to his own testimony in the case file, Alpfidan used the migrant smugglers he said found in Alsancak district of the western province İzmir and paid them $600 to get to Greek island Lesbos (Midilli) from İzmir’s coastal town Dikili.

He identified himself as a Syrian refugee from Kobane and assumed the fake name of Hussein Mahmood. He was accompanied by a man identified only with his first name as Velid, a veterinarian from Kobane and a relative of Alpfidan who said Velid spoke Arabic for both of them all the time. Greek authorities registered him as a refugee and provided him with a temporary identification. He then moved to Athens from the island and eventually ended up in Germany eight or nine days later by travelling with a group of refugees using buses and trains. He was placed in a refugee camp by German authorities. He said he met a Turkish man named Durmuş Dengiz while he was staying in a refugee camp and this man gave him a phone and frequently met him during his stay there.

Having spent some four months in Germany where he linked up with a network of acquaintances, Alpfidan decided to return to Turkey for reasons that are a not entirely clear. He received a new identity papers and temporary passport from the Turkish Consulate in German city of Mainz and later flew to Turkey’s southeastern province Antalya on March 3, 2016 and detained upon his arrival. His accomplice Velid stayed behind in Germany.

Alpfidan’s revelations in the ISIL case show that ISIL could easily send its militants to Europe by mingling them with refugees under assumed names. It remains a mystery why he suddenly decided to come back to Turkey where he will be detained because of two outstanding arrest warrants against him. Perhaps he knew people in higher-ups or somehow he was sure he will be protected. It turns out he was right. After a brief detention, Ankara prosecutor’s office decided to release him without even referral to the court for a formal arrest. A travel ban imposed on him which seems ridiculous given the fact that he had already fled the country through illegal means and could do it again if he wanted to do so.

The digital material seized from Yunus Durmaz, the senior ISIL operative in Turkey and one of the planners of the Ankara attack, revealed that Alpfidan has been on the payroll of ISIL for some time. In two excel documents that were found at the home of Durmaz, Alpfidan was listed with his code name ‘Suphi’ who received $220 and $570 in cash on two separate occasions. Alpfidan, worked as a real estate broker, knew most ISIL suspects that were charged in connection with the suicide bombing at train station in Ankara. He often met and had lunches with other ISIL suspects, arranged leasing some properties to them. He has been intimately involved with Halil İbrahim Durgun, Resul Demir, İbrahim Halil Alçay, Durmaz, all were listed as leading ISIL suspects in the case. He confessed that Durmaz often visited him in his business and at one time told him that he rented a warehouse close to the UN liaison office in Gaziantep.

The cell operated by Durmaz who was reportedly trained in Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous Turkish ISIL cells in Turkey. The secret ISIL communique that was exposed during the Ankara ISIL trial, it was this cell that planned attacks NATO troops as they were withdrawing Patriot missiles from Turkey. Durmaz was informing his handler in Syria that NATO is pulling out missiles from the provinces of Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep and Adana via land routes to the port city İskenderun on Mediterranean. He said ISIL knew the routes being used by the NATO, added that Spanish, US and Dutch soldiers were deployed in three different provinces of Turkey. He suggested planting an IED on the roads used by the NATO to kill soldiers.

Another document titled NATO[2250].docx, seized from Durmaz, revealed how ISIL gathered intelligence on military bases NATO and the US has been using in Turkey. The document details movements in and around bases. That shows ISIL has the capability of monitoring military movements in Turkish bases that were used by NATO allies, possibly suggesting it may have been furnished with information from inside Turkish government. Durmaz also worked on a plan to attack NATO when the alliance foreign ministers came to Turkey’s Mediterranean resort province Antalya on May 13, 2015. In a message he sent to ISIL leadership, Durmaz talked about security measures that were beefed up and said he sent militants to Antalya to find out which hotel the NATO meeting would take place.

Despite Alpfidan’s complicity in helping ISIL militants to find safe houses, depots and his intimate ties to many suspects in the case, his release after returning from Germany sounded quite bizarre indeed. In fact, it was later revealed that Alpfidan has had fingerprints all over the places in other ISIL cases in addition to Oct.10th bombing in Turkey according to a lawyer Özcan Karakoç who represented relatives of the victims in Ankara train station suicide bombing. During the hearing in the case on November 10, 2016, Karakoç said “the suspect fled the country after the bombing. It is not clear why he returned to Turkey. ISIL threat is still valid. He must be arrested at once. We’ll all be sorry if his fingerprints uncovered in yet another attack,” he told the court. The judges agreed and he was rearrested.

It looks like Alpfidan did not expect to be arrested and was in shock. In the next hearing held two days later, he made an unexpected plea in the court, saying that he wants to change his testimony. Demanding a protection for himself and his family members, Alpfidan said the police in Gaziantep was aware of ISIL activities in the province and he himself informed them about ISIL militant Halil İbrahim Durgun and safe houses run by ISIL before vehicle bombing attack against the police building in Gaziantep on May 1, 2016 that killed 2 police officers and wounded 23. The attack was blamed on ISIL. He revealed how he worked with Turkish intelligence officers and even named names. The court asked the police to confirm names provided by Alpfidan as intelligence officers whom he allegedly worked with.

In response to the court’s inquiry, Gaziantep police department said they were unable to identify and locate intelligence officers named by Alpfidan. But during the hearing held on May 4, 2017, Alpfidan’s lawyer Akın Deniz said their own private investigation revealed that one of the officers named as Bestami was promoted in the ranks while other faced an investigation. He said he does not have hopes for these two intelligence officers’ testimonials even if they are located. The most important claim in the proceedings was made by Esin Altıntuğ Durgun, the wife of Halil İbrahim Durgun who was among the organizers of Ankara attack and allegedly blew himself up during a police operation in Gaziantep on November 15, 2015 in order not to get caught. Esin Altıntuğ said she believed her husband was deliberately killed by police in order to hush him up because he knew too much.

Likewise, Durmaz, the mastermind of the Suruç and Ankara bomb attacks, was reportedly killed himself on May 2016 when police started to close in on his hideout. He had been under surveillance between 2012 and 2014 and intel stopped monitoring him after Erdoğan’s reshuffle of Turkish police. Although he was known well by authorities, he allegedly blew himself up when he faced a police raid.

There are so many burning questions around these key ISIL operatives in Turkey, how they operated with the knowledge and even support from the Turkish intelligence. Perhaps somebody has been taking out these guys to cover Turkish government’s tracks. If that is the case, Alpfidan would be next. By changing his testimony after a surprise arrest, Alpfidan might be signaling to his handlers in Turkish intelligence that he is ready to spill the beans on the clandestine operations that extend all the way to European cities. It remains to be seen whether Erdoğan regime elements will call his bluff.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uzbek Jihadists Worked With Turkey’s Intelligence Under Erdoğan’s Rule

When Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan set his eyes to topple Bashar al-Assad and replace his regime with a proxy Islamist rule starting in 2011, his intelligence agency National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has come up with plans to mobilize Jihadists from all over the world to descend into Syria to join the battle in addition to training, arming and funding of Syrian Islamist groups.

Among the foreign-breed warring factions included special regiments of fighters from Central Asia, especially Uzbek and Uyghur origins, whom the MİT believed would come very handy in spearheading the fight against Syrian government. Turkish intelligence had helped these fighters to travel through Turkey, provided them with funding, logistical help, passports, and even arms. The stigmatized Uzbek diaspora, having suffered from the brutal repression at home front and scattered all over the world, was the perfect recruitment ground for Turkish intelligence officers who tapped on the lingering resentment among the youth groups within Uzbek expat communities.

The Islamist non-governmental organizations, some of them are shells for the MİT to cover up clandestine business dealings while others were heavily infiltrated especially among the leadership level, were used in this Jihadist drive. These NGOs have already taken interest in Uzbek expats for years, dealing with migration, residency, education and charitable works for them in Turkey and overseas. Two controversial Turkish charity groups International Humanitarian Relief (IHH) and İmkan-Der, İstanbul-based NGOs that were publicly accused by Russia at the UN Security Council for smuggling arms to rebels in Syria, have taken a lead in mobilizing resources for Uzbek, Uyghur and Chechens communities.

Three al-Qaeda linked Uzbek jihadist groups, Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, Katibat Imam al Bukhari and Ansar Jihad in Syria that draw most of its members from Central Asia have been supported by Turkey’s intelligence agency as part of its long-running schemes in propping up al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria. The confidential investigation in Turkey’s eastern province Van has already revealed how deeply the MİT involved in setting up training camps in Syria close to the Turkish border. In the meantime, as part of the public relations campaign, also funded by the MİT, the footages on military offensive by Uzbek Jihadist groups were often publicized in Turkish media, online outlets for years, inspiring more Uzbek expats in Turkey and other countries to join the fight.

What the MİT has been doing in Turkey was illegal and against the Turkish laws and that is why the clandestine operations were at times spotted and discovered by the national police intelligence, the main law enforcement agency in Turkey. In order to remove obstacles on his way, Erdoğan pushed several amendments to the intelligence bill through Parliament, empowering the MİT to engage in arms trafficking, prisoners swap and a broader immunity for actions by the intelligence officers. In addition to that, Erdoğan turned the police force upside down, purged tens of thousands of police officers from the force in order to remove what he saw a nuisance by the police force in front of his campaign to topple Bashar al-Assad.

Thanks to the investigations and judicial probes painstakingly done by the police and prosecutors who are now either dismissed from their professions or arrested on the trumped-up charges, we have a good idea how Erdoğan’s clandestine system of Jihadists work. For example, the investigation file No.2014/57689 by the prosecutor’s office in İstanbul which was later turned into an indictment with a case file No.2015/4008 exposed how Uzbek cell in Turkey works.

In a wiretap recording time-stamped for Nov.1, 2014 at 14:55:56 hours, Abdulhakem Mısırlı told Ebu Suheyf that Uzbek cell led by Ebu Musa received $30,000 from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL also known as ISIS and Daesh). Ebu Suheyf’s real name is Asaad Khelifalkhadr, a Kuwaiti national listed as the number one suspect in the 315-page indictment as a trafficker of Jihadists. Khelifalkhadr was detained in a police operation on July 10, 2015. He initially provided his name as Osamaa Hamit Isa to the police but the passport he provided listed his name as Asaad Khelifalkhadr. He was formally arrested on July 13, 2015 by İstanbul No.4 Criminal Court of Peace.

From the wiretap records, it is crystal clear that Turkey’s authorities had been eavesdropping on Ebu Suheyf’s communications, keeping a tab on how he had been moving suspected Jihadists from Europe and Arab countries through airports and land border gates in Turkey en route to border provinces on Turkish-Syrian border. In other words, Turkey has been watching every move he and his associates were making. Yet they did not interrupt into his operations until pressure was intensified from both the US and Russia.

In the wiretap recorded on January 11, 2014, Ebu Suheyf was talking to an unidentified man about a man and woman, ISIL militants who were detained by the Greek police on Turkish border and was taken back to Athens. They discussed how to resolve the matter discreetly and decided to enlist the help of Ebu Usame who was identified another ISIL operative as providing passports for Jihadists in the indictment.

That suggests the ISIL network is capable of moving Jihadists from Greek border or through airports in Turkey using forged passports and travel documents while Turkish authorities turning a blind eye on them. Perhaps, that explains how Rakhmat Akilov, Uzbek national who killed five people when he deliberately drove the stolen vehicle into crowds in the Swedish capital, entered Turkey and exited without any record on immigration. He might have been easily provided with the help by this network to make him easily travel back and forth and cover his tracks along the way.

Yet, Turkish court ignored the overwhelming evidence incriminating Ebu Suheyf, including wiretap records that detailed how the network collected Jihadists from an İstanbul airport and other meeting points in Turkey and helped them travel to border provinces to cross into Syria or return from Syria to travel for European destinations. On March 24, 2016, the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court decided to release Ebu Suheyf pending trial and he went missing immediately. It is simply impossible for the panel of three judges to rule for the release of his and all the other ISIL suspects unless they were directly signaled by the government to do so given the fact that the judiciary is tightly controlled by Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

The trafficking of Uzbek Jihadists has taken place not only through European destinations but also via Iranian border. For example, in a secret recording dated October 31, 2014 at 15:51:41 hours, Yakup Uzun, a Turkish trafficker who found safe house for foreign Jihadists and help them move to Syria through his contacts, talks to an unidentified person about how to move an Uzbek family that came through Iran and now staying at Turkey’s Eastern province Van. Uzun said the family was brought to Turkey by smugglers for a cost of $3,500 and it was urgent to move the family out of Van.

On Nov.21, 2014, Kerim Akyüz, another ISIL suspect who appears to have been tasked by ISIL to take care of Uzbek and Azeri Jihadists and transferring them to Syria, received a phone call from an unidentified Turkish person in Syria. The unidentified person appears to be very close friend of Akyüz and told him there was about 500 Turks including Uzbeks in the place run by the ISIL in Syria. They talked about how shaving beards and changing phone to evade detection while travelling back and forth on Turkish Syrian border.

On another wiretap dated Dec.2, 2014, Akyüz talks to a man named Ammar about arms, walkie-talkies and military materials and how to move them to Syria. Ammar, apparently lives in Syria, also said a bag was sent to Syria from Uzbek community in İstanbul’s Pendik district, a place where Uzbek migrants concentrated in İstanbul. According to Süleyman Tarık Balyalı, Pendik district council member from the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Uzbeks and others were being shuttled on busses from Pendik to Raqqa, the stronghold of ISIL.

In fact, on October 2015, police raided ISIL cells in Pendik and detained 53 people on ISIL charges, mostly Uzbek and Tajik descent people. Of these 53 people, 24 were children under 18 years old and were taken to children protective services before they were released. After questioning at the police, 18 of 29 were released. 11 were held reportedly on problems with the residency permits. Police found out that Uzbeks in Pendik rented basement flats and turned these places into a training and indoctrination centers.

When Erdoğan tried to normalize Turkey’s relations with Russia following the shooting down of Russian fighter jet SU-24M on Turkish-Syrian border on Nov.24, 2015, Moscow insisted that Turkish government crackdown on these groups, something Erdoğan agreed in principle but never actually delivered fully on that pledge. In fact, some 150 Uzbek migrants were rounded up in İstanbul on March 10, 2017, on the day Erdoğan met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Many of them were later released.

Likewise, before Erdoğan’s meeting with Putin on August 9, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Turkish police started detaining some 450 foreign nationals of Uzbek, Chechen, and Uyghur origins. As it was the case earlier, many were released after Erdoğan wrapped up his visit. Islamist organizations such as IHH, as well as Uzbek and Turkistan associations mobilized their networks to protest their deportations and pro-Erdoğan media run articles against their removals from Turkey.

It was the same game played out by Erdoğan right after İstanbul nightclub attack by ISIL militant Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek national, in the early hours of the new year that killed 39 people and injured 65 others. In the aftermath of the attack, many Uzbeks were detained in Turkey and some were even taken to the airport to be deported back to Uzbekistan. However, many were later let go. The case of Masharipov who was later captured by the police units showed ISIL militants were able to get help from Uzbek community in Turkey, draw logistical support in evading the detection.

An Uzbek militant was among three ISIL suicide attackers who bombed İstanbul’s Atatürk Airport that left 45 people dead on June 28, 2016. Three bombers opened fire to create panic outside the airport before two of them went inside and blew themselves up. The third militant detonated his explosives outside at the entrance to the international arrivals terminal. The attack appears to be professionally planned and required reconnaissance, intel and logistical support. All three bombers had reportedly no record of entry into Turkey, suggesting that they traveled illegally or on forged documents. An indictment was filed against 45 suspects in the case on February 2017.

Despite the threat posed on Turkey’s security by foreign Jihadists, especially Uzbek cells, Turkish government does not appear to have been cracking hard on these groups in Turkey or in Syria. In fact, according to Turkish Interior Ministry’s data, between 2011 and 2016, only 53 Uzbek were detained and 11 were arrested on charges of ISIL. It is now known how many of those arrested 11 suspects were later let go as many ISIL arrestees get released in the trial hearings.

Perhaps that confirms the view that MİT has actually been working with radical Uzbek, Uyghur and other Central Asian cells as proxy groups to promote Erdoğan’s Islamist policies in Europe, Asia and Middle East. After all, Erdoğan repeatedly warned that western capitals won’t feel safe when they turn against his government and criticize him on his actions and policies. That may explain how ISIL easily managed to use Turkey as springboard to stage their attacks in Brussels, Paris, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

For all we know, some of the attacks in Turkey attributed to ISIL might have been all false flags by MİT to take the international pressure off on Erdoğan’s back for his years-long support to Jihadist groups and deflect the attention away from Turkey to serve political interests of Erdoğan. After all, it was Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan who suggested orchestrating mortar attacks on Turkish targets by Jihadist groups in Syria as a false flag to justify Turkish military intervention into Syria, according to the authenticated leaked voice recording on March 2014.

During the meeting held in Ankara in January 2017 with the attendance of some 70 military commanders from Syria on the eve of Astana ceasefire talks, Turkish officials reportedly urged them to distance themselves from Uzbek Jihadist groups. That does not correspond to any reality on the ground as many Turkey-backed Jihadists groups enlisted Uzbek fighters and even Uzbek-led Jihadist groups are mingled with others and fighting next to other Jihadist groups in trying to topple Assad. For example, al-Qaeda affiliated Uzbek groups actively work with Turkmen fighters in the north of Syria. Therefore, the suggestion of separating them means nothing other than giving a way for plausible deniability on the part of Turkish government.

Mysteriously, Uzbek suspects were only located when MİT really wanted them to be found as it was the case in March 2017 when two Uzbeks identified as C.C. and İ.D. caught with AK-47 and ammunitions in a safe house in İstanbul’s Kağıthane district. There is a reasonable body of evidence out there to conclude that Turkish intelligence has actively organized Jihadist groups, supported them with logistics, arms and funds, has been intimately aware of their operations, and decided to liquidate some assets only when it served to political masters’ interests.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

United Nations Was Abused In Turkey’s Crackdown On NGOs

Following the massive crackdown on civil society groups and non-governmental organizations that led to the arbitrary and summary closures of 1,325 foundations and associations in few months’ time, the repressive Islamist regime of Turkey set its eyes to strip the consultative status of leading NGOs at the United Nations (UN), bypassing established rules using its lobbying powers in select committees.

Exploiting the procedural flaws in the rules and abusing the membership status at the relevant UN bodies, Turkish representatives secured the revocation of consultative status for three prominent NGOs whose operations were shut down in Turkey. The proposals were accepted in the form of recommendations in violation of the established rules and procedures that required the UN Committee to give a chance for the NGOs and their administrators to respond to serious charges leveled against them by Turkish government. Sudan, Pakistan, China, and Venezuela were key enablers for Turkish government in successfully pushing through these proposals to withdraw consultative status for NGOs in Turkey and halting the considerations for such a status from another NGOs from Turkey.

At the special request from Turkey, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations on its 2017 regular session that was held from January 30 to February 24 recommended with the majority of votes the cancellation of the consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for leading charity group Kimse Yok Mu, press freedom advocacy group the Journalists and Writers’ Foundation (GYV) and the business group the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON).

Just like well over a thousand of other NGOs that were critical of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, all three organizations were branded by Turkey as terrorists or having linked to a terror group. Turkish government overnight declared one third of all its diplomats and judges as terrorist in the aftermath of failed coup bid on July 15, 2016, jailed 231 journalists on terror charges, imprisoned some 50,000 people on trumped charges and shut down NGOs, businesses, associations.

Yet Turkish government has so far failed to present any evidence linking these NGOs to any violence or terror. Citing the fact that these NGOs were shut down by the government with a decree-laws under the emergency rule and therefore they ceased to exist, Turkish diplomats at the UN asked the Committee to remove their consultative status with the UN without providing an opportunity for representatives from these NGOs to defend themselves against serious charges and make their case before the Committee.

In fact, as a result of Turkey’s lobbying efforts, the GYV which moved its operations from Turkey and registered itself as an NGO in the United States (US) was not even notified of impending vote on the revocation of its consultative status at the UN ECOSOC. Although the GYV is based its headquarters in New York, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in its draft decision V asked the UN to “refrain from contacting or communicating with the three organizations whose legal status has ceased to exist and, based on that, whose consultative status was recommended for withdrawal at the 1st meeting of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, held on 30 January 2017.”

TURKEY ABUSED UN SYSTEM FOR PERSECUTION

The recommendations were adopted by majority despite the fact that the Secretary of the Committee explained that there had been a similar request regarding an NGO in consultative status two years earlier. At the time, the Committee had agreed to seek clarification from the NGO concerned before proceeding to a recommendation to withdraw its consultative status, which it did a week later, after receiving a response. However, Turkey asked for an immediate withdrawal of status of the NGOs, bypassing established precedents.

Turkey’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN mission, Güven Begeç, sent a letter to the Committee on January 23, 2017, requesting the withdrawal of consultative status of three NGOs, claiming that they are linked to Gülen movement, which was described by Turkish government calls as terrorist group FETÖ. The movement has been inspired by the US-based Turkish Muslim intellectual Fethullah Gülen who has been advocating science education, poverty reduction, community contribution, and interfaith and intercultural dialogue for decades. The movement promotes a moderate version of Islam with a heavy emphasis on public service and volunteer work for the community. It remains staunchly opposed to any violence or terrorism in the name of religion or a nationalism. The movement runs schools, universities and other institutions in some 180 countries.

Since Gülen has been a vocal critic of Turkish government and Erdoğan on massive corruption in the government as well as Turkey’s aiding and abetting of radical groups in Syria and other countries, Turkish President launched an unprecedented persecution against Gülen and his followers in December 2013 right after major corruption probe that incriminated Erdoğan’s family members. Turkey’s Islamist leaders labelled the movement as ‘FETÖ’, a terrorist organization, although Gülen, 75-year old cleric, and his followers have never advocated violence but rather remained firmly opposed to any violence, radicalism and terror in the name of religion.

The persecution has apparently reached to the UN corridors with Turkish diplomats scrambling to undermine the status of independent and critical NGOs at the world body. Turkish government’s proposal to withdraw consultative status for three NGOs was supported by the representatives of Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Burundi, China, Sudan and Venezuela. The United States representative requested more information from Turkey with regard to these NGOs and asked for information and evidence on allegations that these NGOs were linked to any terror. She also said a response from the NGOs must be sought before taking any action on their status at the ECOSOC. However, the Committee decided against the United States’ proposal of postponing action on recommending to the Economic and Social Council the withdrawal of consultative status of the three NGOs. Israel supported the US position while Russia and Uruguay abstained.

Turkey also tried to revoke the status of all three NGOs in a single vote without taking up each one by one. The US remained opposed while Sudan endorsed Turkish position. In the end, a vote was called for each NGO separately. On charity group Kimse Yok Mu, the Committee decided to recommend the withdrawal of consultative status with 16 in favor to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Uruguay) and 1 absent (Israel). On TUSKON’s status, the representative reiterated its grave concern on crackdowns on NGOs in Turkey. Because the NGO in question did not exist, she said her delegation would abstain from voting. The Committee then agreed to recommend the withdrawal of consultative status from TUSKON by a vote of 16 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Uruguay) and 1 absent (Israel).

The most bizarre case was registered with the case of GYV which is operational in New York city. The US diplomat said that NGO was operational and it was based and operated in New York, in the United States. Turkish diplomat insisted however that the NGO listed as having a consultative status with the Council was registered as headquartered in İstanbul. The Committee decided, by a vote of 16 in favor to 2 against (Israel, United States), to recommend to the ECOSOC the withdrawal of consultative status of GYV.

UN SECRETARIAT WARNED ABOUT VIOLATIONS ON RULES

For its credit, the UN representative took a position on the votes, saying that rules of withdrawing status of an NGO which were clarified in article 56 of resolution 1996/31 stated that after a decision on the withdrawal of status was taken an NGO must be notified on the decision and shall be given “written reasons for that decision and have an opportunity to present its response” before the Committee. He said the next steps would be to provide reasons in writing for the Committee’s decision. Jorge Dotta from Uruguay who was re-elected to the chair on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, underlined that Article 56 cannot be ignored.

Turkish diplomat Ceren Hande Özgür who is also one of the vice chairs at the Committee, even objected to written notification, claiming NGOs were no longer in existence and therefore there is no need for notification. The US and the Secretariat objected to Turkish proposal, saying that rules are clear on the withdrawal process. The US diplomat said that the Committee’s role was to make a recommendation, with the Council having to make a decision. Turkey proposed to put the motion on vote, but the US objected to it saying that such a proposal would have a subsidiary body override the role of the parent body, ECOSOC. Such a vote would be beyond the competence of the Committee, he said. The Committee rejected the US proposal, by a vote of 2 in favor (Israel, United States) to 14 against, with 1 abstention (Uruguay) and 2 absent (Greece, Guinea). Taking up Turkey’s proposal, the Committee voted by 13 in favor to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, Uruguay) and 2 absent (Greece, Guinea).

The Article 56 of the UN Resolution No. 1996/31 which regulates consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations states that “in cases where the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations has decided to recommend that the general or special consultative status of a non-governmental organization or its listing on the Roster be suspended or withdrawn, the non-governmental organization concerned shall be given written reasons for that decision and shall have an opportunity to present its response for appropriate consideration by the Committee as expeditiously as possible.”

Although all three NGOs were removed of their legal status in Turkey arbitrarily, the Committee could have very well communicated with their chief operating officers who were forced to move out of Turkey to avoid wrongful imprisonment. In at least one NGO case, the GYV moved its operations to New York city and its address was available to the UN ECOSOC Committee.

TURKEY TARGETS TWO MORE NGOS AT THE UN

Not only these three NGOs whose consultative status were recommended by the Committee for a withdrawal, Turkey also requested the UN to cancel pending applications from two other NGOs because they were also shut down by the government in Turkey. In a letter sent to the UN Committee on January 31, 2017, Turkey’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN mission Güven Begeç said ̇pending applications from Istanbul Fikir Araştırmaları Derneği and Hazar Strateji Enstitüsü Derneği must be rejected.

During the Committee meetings held on February 1 and 2, 2017, Turkey said both NGOs lost their legal status after closure by the decree-law of the government, their application for a consultative status with ECOSOC must be dropped. The US objected to these motions, asking whether there would be time for the organizations to respond before the Committee made its decision, in line with what had been done in the past. Turkey objected to notification, saying that these NGOs were no longer in existence. The Committee decided to revoke pending applications.

Among closed 1,325 associations and foundations ostensibly on terror charges in the last eight months alone by government decrees that are not subject to any effective judicial or legislative scrutiny, includes health, sports, education, charitable, unionist and other advocacy groups that apparently have nothing to do with terror or any other crime, such as the Anatolia Medical Ontology Foundation, the Gastrointestinal Oncology Foundation and the Health for Everyone Association. They were targeted because of unconstitutional profiling by the government, targeting critics, minorities, opponents and anybody else who is not willing to toe the line of the Islamist government in Turkey.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Intel Agency MİT Helped Jihadists Kidnap Foreigners In Syria

A Turkish al-Qaeda militant who had been involved in kidnapping for a ransom to raise revenue for the radical armed group was saved by the government of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who hushed up the probe, thwarted the trial hearings and eventually secured the release of all suspects from prison.

Orhan Yaşar involved in raising funds for al-Qaeda through kidnapping business.
The operative’s name is Orhan Yaşar, 43 year old (DOB: July 11, 1974) from the the Suruç district of Turkey’s southeastern province Şanlıurfa on Turkish Syrian border. He was involved in the scheme of kidnapping and later the release of Turkish photo-journalist Bünyamin Aygün of Milliyet daily from his captives in al-Qaeda affiliated armed group in Syria. Yaşar had been probed as part of the confidential investigation file No. 2012/1361 which was launched by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in the Eastern province Van in 2012.

Yaşar was detained in a sweeping al-Qaeda operation on January 14, 2014 and formally arrested few days later. He and other suspects in the case were indicted on July 2014. But Yaşar was released pending a trial on the first hearing in the case by Van No.3 High Criminal Court on August 6, 2014. In his testimony to the court, he denied any involvement with al-Qaeda and said he is a businessman trading in textile in Syria. Yaşar did not even bother showing up in the next trial hearing held on October 28, 2014 and became a fugitive in the case.

The release of Yaşar did not make a sense at all given the fact one of the wiretap evidence in the case file revealed how he and his al-Qaeda cell leader was tipped off about the ongoing probe and planning to flee Turkey before police detained them on January 2014. Most likely the MİT learned about the police investigation file and passed that info to al-Qaeda suspects. As soon as the prosecutor was alerted by the investigators that suspects were made aware of the probe, he ordered their detention before they could have escaped the country.

There are five wiretap recordings in the investigation file that revealed how Yaşar involved in abduction of foreign nationals by al-Qaeda affiliated Jihadist groups in Syria. The investigators, after securing wiretap authorizations from the judge, listened in his communications with other al-Qaeda suspects. He was operating in a cell led by İbrahim Şen, a former Gitmo detainee and a convicted senior al-Qaeda militant, who has been working with Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) in moving arms, funds and supplies to Jihadist groups in Syria.

In several recordings, Yaşar was talking to Şen and a man named Sadullah Alyo about what they termed as “kaldırma” (an abduction in Turkish). Yaşar was also talking about financial needs of al-Qaeda, how to raise funds and transfer them to al-Qaeda in Syria. He was saying that Turkish intelligence agency MİT has been facilitating the transfer of Jihadists to Syria, and providing arms, funds and logistical supplies to al-Qaeda groups.

The case file includes a wiretap recording that shows Yaşar was discussing the kidnapped Turkish photo-journalist Bünyamin Aygün, and Spanish correspondent Javier Espinosa and Spanish freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova. Aygün was kidnapped on Nov.26, 2013 while Spanish journalists were kidnapped on Sept.16, 2013. Yaşar was urging his contact to locate these journalists, and ask for a ransom money from their families. “Without taking any [ransom] money, do not release him [Aygün],” Yaşar was recorded as saying according to the investigation file submitted to the court.

All three journalists were eventually released from captivity but there was no mention of any ransom money was paid in exchange of their freedom. When asked about that, Aygün simply said he had no knowledge of such transaction. The interesting part of his kidnapping is that Turkish media reported that MİT teams helped secure his release and took him back to Turkey.

The controversial charity group International Humanitarian Relief (IHH), accused by Russia at the UN Security Council for smuggling arms to rebels in Syria, was also involved in negotiations for Aygün’s release. In other words, while MİT had been helping Jihadists to organize kidnapping, ransom demanding and even killing hostages, it was also brokering the release of hostages to save the day and appear as a hero at the same time.

If the MİT was helping Jihadist groups to arm, fund and resupply themselves as the evidence in the prosecutor’s confidential file suggests, it should not come as a surprise that these hostages were easily picked up from the hands of Jihadist groups.

There is another twist in Aygün’s saga which was told by him after he made safely back to Turkey. He said he met with a man named Haisam Toubaljeh, also known as Heysem Topalca, who was involved in recruiting foreign fighters and smuggling arms to Syria in cooperation with Turkish intelligence agency. Aygün claimed he was kidnapped after he met this guy to interview and later both were separated during the captivity.

Toubaljeh is no ordinary figure according to Turkish prosecutors who traced his footprints to the twin bombings in the Turkish border town of Reyhanlı, which claimed the lives of 53 people on May 11, 2013. Accordingly, two suspects who stood trial as part of an investigation into the Reyhanlı incident said what they claimed to be a Turkish official named Toubaljeh had pushed them to mastermind the attack.

The attack came only five days before then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan’s scheduled visit to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama in the White House. The plausible explanation was that MİT staged the Reyhanlı bombing through the contractor Toubaljeh as a false flag operation to prod the US into a military engagement in Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power.

In a separate case, Toubaljeh was named as a suspect in moving three Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) terrorists who killed three people, including two police officers in the central Anatolian province of Niğde in March 2014. The ISIL militants, identified as Çendrim Ramadani, Benjamin Xu and Muhammed Zakiri, who are citizens of Switzerland, Germany and Macedonia, respectively, were later convicted. The court asked for the probe on the link between ISIL militants and the MİT, but later dropped when judges and prosecutors looking into the case were reassigned.

Toubaljeh’s name also surfaced in May 2013 in the case of 12 members of Syria’s militant al-Nusra group arrested in connection with the seized chemical materials that could be used to make sarin gas (also known as nerve gas), which was going to be used in a bomb attack on Turkish soil. The ringleader of the network was a man identified as Hytham Quassap, another name allegedly used by Toubaljeh. He was arrested by Turkish police but let go in July 2013. Toubaljeh is believed to have been involved in numerous cases of smuggling as well as the transfer of almost 1,000 rocket heads to Syria, which were intercepted in November 2013 in Adana by security forces.

According to Turkish police intelligence, Toubaljeh moved in and out of Turkey hundreds of times between 2011 and 2014 and remains at large despite the fact that he was detained several times by law enforcement agencies. He acted as a middle man for the MİT to link up with all sorts of Jihadist groups in Syria including al-Qaeda, ISIL, Nusra and others. The veteran prosecutors who unmasked this shadowy guy and Turkish intelligence’s dirty business with Jihadists are in jail today because the Islamist rulers including Erdoğan are afraid of expose on these clandestine schemes that were drawn up to advance their political goals.

April 19, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jihadists Who Decapitated Priests In Syria Got Help From Turkey’s Intelligence

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had willingly and deliberately helped known Jihadists of Russian nationals who decapitated Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim in 2013.

They were caught in Turkey after a video emerged in June 2013 but they received lesser sentences on charges other than a murder of these priests when the Turkish intelligence and the Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ intervened into the case. These bloody Jihadists are set to be free next month in Turkey.

Their name are Magomed Abdurakhmanov (AKA Abu Banat who was born on Nov.24, 1974 in Dagestan, a federal republic of Russia in the Northern Caucasus) and Ahmad Ramazanov (born on March 12, 1986 in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic, Russia). They are believed to be part of Jihadist group that decapitated prominent priests after their abduction in Syria. Abdurakhmanov personally beheaded one and helped decapitate the other based on seized murder weapon, forensic examination, his own testimony that corroborated by his accomplice. The shocking part is that these murderer were recruited by the MİT, provided with arms and logistical support while fighting against Bashar al-Assad regime.

KNOWN AL-QAEDA TRAFFICKER MOVED THEM AROUND

Both men had been in contact with a Turkish national Mevlüt Kuşman, a radical figure who was already under the investigation by Turkish police as part of an investigation into an al-Qaeda cell that was operating out of the Eastern province Van and İstanbul and that led by İbrahim Şen, a former Gitmo detainee and a convicted senior al-Qaeda militant. Kuşman (born on November 8, 1966 in Van province) had maintained a residence in İstanbul’s Bağcılar district and worked as a trafficker and supplier for al-Qaeda affiliated Jihadist groups.

The wiretap conversation that was recorded on June 20, 2013 showed Kuşman delivered military supplies, clothing and food to a man identified with only first name as Hasan who used a cell phone registered to a man Saeed Ameen Hussein al-Juboori. The delivery took place in the village of Başpınar on Turkish-Syrian border located in Kırıkhan district of Hatay province. Following the transaction, Kuşman picked up Jihadists who illegally crossed to Turkish territory from Syria and started driving towards Konya province with final destination being İstanbul.

Kuşman’s car was stopped by police units at Konya’s Cihanbeyli district where Abdurakhmanov, Ramazanov and a woman named Fatim Maden (24), a foreign national, were all detained along with another Turkish man named Sait Alp. Both Kuşman and Alp were released while foreign nationals were transferred to foreigners’ unit in Konya provincial police department. Although Abdurakhmanov was listed as a foreigner who are banned from entry into Turkey, he and the other two foreigners were all released to continue their journey to İstanbul. That shows these people were protected by Turkey’s intelligence agency.

Magomed Abdurakhmanov, a Russian Jihadist from Dagestan region, seen in the video as decapitating the abducted priest in Syria.
JIHADIST WHO WAS LET GO TURNED OUT TO BE MURDERER OF PRIESTS

On June 28, 2013, the murder footages of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji (also listed as Yazigi or Yazıcı), the Syriac Orthodox diocese of Aleppo Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, and a third priest were emerged in Turkish media. Yaziji went into Syria on April 22, 2013 to meet Bishop Yohanna and they were kidnapped by unknown gunmen in the village of Kafr Dael, about 10 km from Aleppo. It turned out the priests were kept prisoners by a Jihadist group called Katibat al-Muhajireen (Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa’l-Ansar), designated as terrorist group by the US and Canada. When the horrible pictures of decapitation emerged in June 2013, Konya police units identified Abdurakhmanov as the man who appeared in the picture.

That verification prompted İstanbul police to raid several addresses in İstanbul’s Bağcılar and Başakşehir districts on July 4, 2013, detaining Kuşman, Ramazanov and Abdurakhmanov, among other suspects. In the home and workplace of Kuşman, police found hand grenades, AK-47 clips, 186 bullets, walkie talkies, video cameras. In a bag that was found during the house search, police found clothes that resembled to the ones seen in the video as the outfit of Abdurakhmanov. Police also discovered a knife with sheath that looked identical to the knife used in the beheading according to the forensic examination.

SO MUCH INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE

Investigating judge at İstanbul No.2 Court formally arrested all three on charges of belonging to a terror group and possessing illegal explosive materials and they were jailed in İstanbul Maltepe L-type prison. Kuşman’s son Abdullah and Sait Alp was also named as suspects in the case but released pending trial. Alerted by the Interpol, Russian police also searched the home of Abdurakhmanov in Chechnia and found two grenades, two explosives, and fifty bullets.

There was enough evidence to charge Russian Jihadists on terror, violations of firearms and ammunition laws but to charge Abdurakhmanov on crimes against the humanity for the murders of priests which took place outside the borders of Turkey, prosecutors needed a permission from the Justice Ministry. The ministry turned down the permission request by the prosecutor’s office in İstanbul, saying that there is no need for such a permission in the investigation stage but required for the trial phase according to the Turkish Penal Code articles listed in the Law No.5237.

Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ signals prosecutor for dropping murder charges against Magomed Abdurakhmanov.
TURKISH JUSTICE MINISTER PREVENTS FILING MURDER CHARGES

In fact, responding to a Parliamentary question on this matter, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on August 25, 2014 that he advised prosecutors to continue the investigation and come back for a permission during the trial phase. But when his response was examined in detail, it was clear that Bozdağ was discouraging prosecutors to move on with charges of murder of priests, by saying that there is already a valid treaty on extradition agreement and mutual legal assistance with Syria that dated back on March 18, 1983 according to Official Gazette records.

The Article 12 of the Law no.5237 says a foreigner can be tried for crimes committed in another country if there is no extradition agreement or the recipient country refuses to take the suspect back. He said if there is sufficient evidence found on the murder, then the prosecutor may resubmit a permission request to the government. In short, with so many words, Turkish minister effectively telling the prosecutors to drop the charges against Abdurakhmanov.

In fact, that is exactly what happened in the case. Reading the messages of Turkish Justice Minister between the lines, prosecutors decided not to include murder charges in the indictment, citing the fact that murders took place in a foreign country and difficult in collecting evidence. They did not even bother to ask a renewed permission to charge the suspect on murder for the trial stage.

This was totally wrong from so many angles. For one, police criminal lab examination clearly identified Abdurakhmanov as the man who decapitated the priest from the video footage and the murder knife was discovered during the house search. Abdurakhmanov himself confirmed that he was the man on the footage during his testimony in the court (He even acknowledged he was the one who decapitated the priest in police questioning but recanted that in court hearing). Second, there is no practical application of existing extradition treaty between Turkey and Syria because of civil war in Arab country and Assad’s lack of control in many parts of Syrian territory. Third, this also contradicted Turkey’s official government position with respect to Bashar al-Assad regime for which it declared as illegitimate and instead recognized an interim government set up by opposition.

JIHADIST TESTIFIES HOW HE WORKED WITH TURKEY’S INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

The court testimony of Abdurakhmanov clearly indicated his close working relationship with Turkey’s intel MİT. He said he and other fighters had been in a continuous contact with the MİT. “After I was jailed here, I wrote letters to the intelligence [MİT] but did not receive any response. While we were in Syria, help was being provided to us from Turkey in the form of arms, funds and vehicles. I do not understand my current predicament and why I was kept in prison now”.

These words suggest Turkish intelligence dumped him after Abdurakhmanov got exposed but nevertheless helped him to get reduced sentence on lesser charges. Perhaps, the MİT also tried to protect itself from a host of international legal troubles by manipulating the case so that there were no charges filed on the murder of priests. Turkish government played along because it was Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then as a Prime Minister, was personally overseeing the Jihadists’ fights against Assad regime, hoping to replace him with his own proxy Islamist figure.

In his testimony, suspect Ramazanov said he was fighting as an Emir in Katibat al-Muhajireen, training other fighters, and met Abdurakhmanov there. He said the man in the murder video is Abdurakhmanov who decapitated one priest according to the Sharia court decision and help getting another one beheaded.

MURDERERS TO BE FREED FROM JAIL NEXT MONTH

A trial prosecutor, most likely selected especially for this case by the government, even asked for the acquittal of both Russian nationals. However the panel of judges disagreed. Perhaps a close interest in the case by both Russia and the US that have requested the turnover of the case file and evidentiary documents to them might have played a role in preventing a total hush-up of this case.

In the end, both men were sentenced to seven and a half years in prison each with charges of being a member of the terror organization. No murder charges filed and the court acquitted them of the charge on firearms violations. Kuşman was convicted on charges of terror membership (7 years 5 months), possession of dangerous material (4 years 2 months), and possession of unlicensed gun (1 year 3 months). Kuşman’s son Abdullah and Alp were acquitted.

US AND RUSSIA SHOULD INTERVENE

That means Abdurakhmanov and Ramazanov would be conditionally released on May 6, 2017 after serving only 3 years and nine months in the jail according to early parole rules. That is of course if no other charges filed against them by Turkish government which seems very unlikely given the fact that how it treated the case from the start. Both the US and Russia may want to take up the case from where the Turkish government left off, by asking their extradition so that they can be punished for the heinous murders of the priests. Erdoğan would not want that of course, fearing that their extradition may expose him to criminal liabilities. But it is worth to try at least for naming and shaming this Islamist leader who aided and abetted all sorts of radical fanatics in Syria.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment