Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Direct involvement of Erdogan's regime with international terrorism

Turkey’s Intel Agency MİT Helped Jihadists Kidnap Foreigners In Syria, By Abdullah Bozkurt

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.

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.

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

By Abdullah Bozkurt

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.