February 2, 2015

Ex-military intel chief: MİT prepared Tahşiyeciler report long before Gülen’s speech

The former intelligence director of the Turkish General Staff, Lt. Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin, has said the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has kept the al-Qaeda-linked Tahşiyeciler group under observation since 2004 and sent a report to the police intelligence department as early as February 2008 -- before a speech denouncing the group by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in 2009 which was used as evidence for his arrest warrant.

In an operation on Dec. 14, 2014, Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Samanyolu TV group General Manager Hidayet Karaca, police officers and TV soap opera scriptwriters were detained on charges of terrorism and of being part of a gang that conspired against Tahşiyeciler following a speech by Gülen in 2009, in which the scholar warned against a group that "might" be called Tahşiyeciler that was linked to al-Qaeda.

The prosecutors who ordered the Dec. 14 detentions claim that following Gülen's speech, Dumanlı ordered two columnists to write about Tahşiyeciler and that he published a news report about the speech. The allegations also claim that Samanyolu TV made implications about the group in an episode of a soap opera it broadcast. It is further claimed that the police then “unfairly” raided the group.

İstanbul Public Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz, who is supervising the investigation, issued an arrest warrant for Gülen -- a Turkish Islamic scholar who advocates a moderate Islam rooted in science -- on Dec. 20, 2014 as part of the Dec. 14 operation. Penal Judge of Peace Bekir Altun sent many people to prison, including Karaca.

Speaking to the Bugün daily, Pekin said that Tahşiyeciler (Annotators) came to the attention of army intelligence on Dec. 3, 2008, when police intelligence shared the MİT report with army staff and the police intelligence departments of the 12 provinces in which the group operates. Receiving an update from MİT to the report on Feb. 17 and March 30, 2009, Pekin said that army intelligence shared the report with all military departments on March 13, 2009. An investigation was later launched into the Tahşiyeciler group by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office, in May 2009.

Pekin, who put his initials to the report while sending it to the military departments, said that the report has nothing to do with Gülen and his speech. The MİT reports about Tahşiyeciler were, along with gendarmerie and police reports, sent to army intelligence as the army does not prepare intelligence reports on religious and political groups but will use such reports -- if sent them -- to fight against terrorism, Pekin said.

After more than five years had passed since the first indictment of Tahşiyeciler, one of the individuals who stood trial as part of the Tahşiyeciler case launched a criminal complaint on May 16, 2014 against certain individuals based on Gülen's speech in 2009 and the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation which reached its conclusion with the detention of Dumanlı on Dec. 14.

Tahşiye leader Mehmet Doğan, who was detained and later released pending trial, acknowledged in an interview with CNN Türk in December 2014 that he "loves Osama bin Laden."

In court-authorized wiretapped conversations, one suspect -- identified as Faris Mağin -- was recorded as saying, “Jihad means placing your finger on the trigger of an automatic rifle.” Another suspect, Mehmet Nuri Ataç, said, “I want to become a suicide bomber; I will stage an attack on hypocrites.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 02 February 2015, Monday