Today’s Zaman: Ali Fuat Yılmazer, former chief of the Istanbul Police Department’s intelligence unit, has claimed that Iran-linked notorious terrorist organization Tawhid-Salam has penetrated deep into the Turkish government.
Ali Fuat Yılmazer, former chief of the Istanbul Police Department’s intelligence unit, has claimed that Iran-linked notorious terrorist organization Tawhid-Salam has penetrated deep into the Turkish government in what amounts to international espionage.
“If details of this case file [on the probe into Tawhid-Salam] are revealed one day, we’ll see how a foreign government can act comfortably in Turkey and how it was able to access many senior government officials,” Yılmazer said.
“They [members of the Tawhid-Salam terrorist group] have been able to develop relations at the most senior level,” the former intelligence chief added.
Details of an investigation into the organization, which Yılmazer described as “the stealthiest and most dangerous terrorist organization of recent times” that Turkey has ever faced, have been coming out as Twitter user @ACEMUSAKLARI uploads photographs and video footage from what appears to be the original investigation file onto online portals.
If the allegations are true, Interior Minister Efkan Ala, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan and Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay are all involved with the Tawhid-Salam terrorist network.
Turkey’s intel chief compromised
The most significant allegation raised by the whistleblower is that Iranian informant Hüseyin Avni Yazıcıoğlu has maintained close contact with Fidan, and that they met several times.
Yazıcıoğlu’s wife, Kamile, has claimed that her husband has connections within MİT, the police and the government. And leaked documents indicate that he kept several passports at home as well as reports he wrote for Iranian intelligence services.
Whistleblower @ACEMUSAKLARI alleges that Fidan was recruited by Iran in the 1990s at Shiite study meet-ups in Ankara. And a court-authorized wiretap recorded on June 18, 2012 revealed shocking details on how Fidan was compromised by Iranian intelligence.
A wiretapped phone conversation shows Iran learned about a high-profile spat within Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government before the Turkish public did. According to the leak, the intelligence chief was passing confidential information on Cabinet meetings to Quds Force commander Sayed Ali Akbar Mir Vekili, which is how Iran found out about a heated exchange between Erdoğan and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç during the Gezi Park protests of last year two days before the incident was leaked to the press.
Turkish media reported that Arınç had tendered his resignation and stormed out of a Cabinet meeting after a fight with Erdoğan, but was later convinced to withdraw his resignation. Arınç publicly denied the incident, however.
Hakkı Selçuk Şanlı, a suspected member of the network, allegedly helped set up the Quds Force operation in Turkey on orders from then-Revolutionary Guard commander Nasir Takipur in the 1990s. Şanlı was involved in attacks while he was working for Takipur in terrorist plots targeting US interests in Turkey. In police raids against the Tawhid-Salam terrorist network, Şanlı was arrested on May, 13, 2000, but Quds Force agent Takipur fled to Iran. After a trial, Şanlı was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was freed in 2004 when the Erdoğan government passed an amnesty bill in Parliament reducing sentences for some convicts.
Reportedly, Şanlı kept a low profile for a while after his release — until he was re-engaged by Iranian agents.
According to @ACEMUSAKLARI’s leaked documents, police have since discovered that Şanlı regularly delivers Iranian hush money to the families of the murderers of Turkish intellectual Uğur Mumcu and others killed in the 1990s; that every month, on orders from Mir Vekili, he pays visits to convicts F.Ö., R.A., N.Y. and others; and that Mir Vekili controls a secret cell in Turkey whose membership includes Selçuk Şanlı, Fidan and others. In the 1990s, Şanlı and Mumcu’s killer F.Ö. met regularly at a car dealership in Ankara that is owned by Faruk Koca, and Fidan, a noncommissioned officer in the Turkish military at the time, regularly attended the meetings, the leaks show. Koca, one of the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK party) and later a deputy for the party, is considered a suspect by police in the Tahwid-Salam terrorist investigation.
Koca is generally described as being pro-Iran, and even named his son Khomeini. He was also the landlord of a house Erdoğan rented in the early 2000s. A bug was later found there.
Koca has become wealthy under the Erdoğan government, while he has apparently kept in close contact with Quds Force general Mir Vekili. Koca owns S’LO Cafe, a prestigious coffee and restaurant establishment in Ankara’s Çukurambar district, which is patronized by the new elite in Ankara. The investigation discovered that the top floor of the S’LO Cafe is reserved for special guests, and that Fidan had Turkish intelligence secure this location against possible eavesdropping. These special guests — including Fidan, Koca, Mir Vekili and Şanlı, according to the leaks — use the back door to access the top floor for meetings.
Mir Vekili is also alleged to maintain two safe houses in İstanbul’s Ataköy neighborhood and report directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Interior minister implicated
Another allegation raised by @ACEMUSAKLARI is that the Salam network established contact with Interior Minister Ala when he was undersecretary for the prime minister. The case file says Iranian Naser Ghafari, a Quds Force operative in Turkey, controls different cells in Turkey. In one cell, Burhan Kavuncu was identified as an agent of influence who has allegedly maintained secret ties with Iran for 30 years. Court-authorized police wiretapping records revealed that Kavuncu frequently talked to Iranian agent Ghafari, who used payphones in Ankara and İstanbul to set up meetings. Police surveillance photographed both men when they met on several occasions.
Kavuncu is alleged to have a wide network in the Turkish government, including the then-prime minister’s undersecretary and now interior minister, Ala, who was described as having huge sympathy for the Iranian revolution and Shiite ideology. During Erdoğan’s visit to Tehran, where he met with Supreme Leader Khamenei in 2013, Ala reportedly was given Khamenei’s prayer stone. Furkan Torlak, Kavuncu’s son-in-law, is alleged to be among those who organized planting Iranian sympathizers/agents in the Turkish government. A wiretap audio file recorded on Jan. 4 reveals Kavuncu asking Ala to speed up security clearance for his son-in-law, Torlak, to start working as the prime minister’s advisor.
Deputy PM Beşir Atalay named as pro-Iranian
The leak also alleges that Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has been a long-time Iranian sympathizer as his police background investigation revealed, which was added to the Salam terrorist network investigation case file. The leak claims that Atalay’s family origins extend to Iran, even though his family settled in the Keskin district of Kırıkkale province, an hour’s drive to the east from the Turkish capital Ankara. His family has been very active in the Shiite Bab-ı Ali (Ehl-i Beyt) İlim Vakfı foundation in the province. The contact address for this foundation in Kırıkkale is listed as the Çile Bookstore, whose owner Bahattin Atalay is the brother of Beşir Atalay.
The investigation file claims that Atalay was exposed to Iranian propaganda throughout his youth. He even went to Iran to attend annual celebrations of the Iranian revolution. A confidential police document dated Feb. 26, 1982, reveals that Atalay, a research assistant in the department of sociology at the Faculty of Management and Economy of Erzurum Atatürk University, went to Tehran to attend the third annual celebrations for the Iranian revolution. He was arrested on April 27, 1983, in Erzurum when police raided different cells as part of an investigation into an Iranian-linked network in the eastern province. Police found Iranian revolutionary documents and materials in Atalay’s house. He told the police he had spent 12 days in Iran.
In 1984, police sent a confidential memo on Beşir Atalay to the rector’s office at Erzurum University, detailing his activities, which included seminars in student houses praising the Iranian revolution and recruiting for an Iranian group in the university. He reportedly taught a doctrine that Turkey could also be saved with a similar revolution. The police also exposed Atalay’s links to then-Iranian Consul M. Tahari at the Iranian Consulate in Erzurum. Atalay also served as the rector of Kırıkkale University between 1992 and 1997 and appointed pro-Iranian sympathizers to key positions at the university. The investigation file claims that he also established the Fifth Way group at Kırıkkale University, which was officially organized under the Fifth Season Association. Its members subscribe to radical Shiite doctrine and praise Shiite ideology as the fifth true school of thought in Islamic law that generally accepts the Maliki, Hanafi, Shafii and Hanbali schools as the leading Sunni schools of thought of Islamic jurisprudence.
Atalay was also believed to be the architect of Turkey’s tilt toward Iran during the AK Party rule. He was identified as the key pro-Iranian official in helping Iran sympathizers move to senior positions in the Turkish government. Intelligence chief Fidan and Interior Minister Ala are among many of his protégés, according to Twitter user @ACEMUSAKLARI. He publicly admitted in 2012 that he was the one who helped Fidan make a name himself in the government.