May 16, 2015

Ergenekon not dead, rules as coalition partner of AK Party

Anadolu Atayün, the elder brother of Yurt Atayün, the former chief of the Counterterrorism Department of the İstanbul Police Department who was detained in the July 22 operation, talked to Sunday's Zaman.

Retired Police Chief Anadolu Atayün made remarkable statements on the background of the government's fight against the Hizmet movement, also known as the Gülen movement. He underlines that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had to make a coalition with Ergenekon and pro-coup figures after the Dec. 17-25 corruption and graft operation of 2013.

Noting that the AK Party is being governed by a "superior mind," as evidenced in the ongoing operations to mislead the public, Atayün underlines that Ergenekon is still alive and influential. Speaking on the Endüstri Holding and Okyanus operations in Konya in 2008, Atayün recalls that these were proper corruption and bribery operations and that some influential political figures, including then-Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, pressured the police to stop the operations because of the link between the suspects and leading AK Party figures.

Atayün notes that the AK Party, after being caught red-handed in the Dec. 17-25 corruption and graft operations, decided to form alliances to avoid prosecution. This is why it accuses others of committing fabricated offenses. Atayün further says: “We see that there is a ‘superior mind' that determines the policies of the AKP [AK Party], releases members of Ergenekon and coordinates illegal activities. This mindset ensured the release of the Ergenekon suspects in the aftermath of the corruption operations on Dec. 17-25. When we woke up on Dec. 17, some already had a roadmap to follow.”

Atayün, arguing that this implies the AK Party already planned to wage war against the Hizmet movement since 2004, says the government has profiled a number of people. Atayün underlines that even average people were profiled and that not only was the Hizmet movement targeted in this process, so were other religious communities. Although the anti-Hizmet campaign attracts attention today, Atayün notes other groups were also identified as threats to national security. Atayün further argues that there is something beyond the state taking care of the release of the Ergenekon suspects, dealing with the religious communities and igniting clashes between different social groups, and that this structure is cooperating with different entities to achieve their common goals.

Atayün further says: “Ergenekon is not dead; it is strong and alive. What is different is the hitmen they are using. A terrorist organization that the Court of Appeals has found at different times responsible for the murder of Ahmet Taner Kışlalı, Uğur Mumcu, Bahriye Üçok and Muammer Aydın [prominent intellectuals and journalists assassinated in the 1990s] is now being legitimized. Iranian agents are being released. They are acting as if there is no such organization and these intellectuals were not murdered. PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] militants are being released and [PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan is being presented as an angel of peace.”

According to Atayün, the government had to overlook Ergenekon because it was caught red-handed; it was caught committing illegal acts, including engaging in corruption in public tenders. Atayün recalls that a number of people were involved in such illegal transactions and became extremely rich during this period. He notes that this "superior mind" created a broad alliance against the public.

Asked whether or not there is a terrorist organization called Tawhid-Salam, Atayün says: “Former Police Chief Bülent Orakoğlu was the first to draw attention to this issue. We need to take a look at his resume to see whether or not he is an intelligence expert. Why didn't he say there is no such organization in the past? … There is now a coalition of convicts in Turkey. They were all caught and sentenced on different charges. They know that the memory of the Turkish people is weak. This is why they carried out an operation to change the public's perception. What should we do with the bombs and weapons seized in the operations? … Why did these figures not raise their voices back then? … So we can also argue that there is no organization such as Hezbollah and that Diyarbakır Police Chief Gaffar Okkan was not murdered by this organization. They are trying to cover up their crimes. This in fact confirms the strength and power of Ergenekon in Turkey.”

Atayün further notes that Ergenekon members and former coup makers extended a hand to the government in the aftermath of the Dec. 17-25 process when they were outed as corrupt. Referring to the recent arrest of prosecutors and judges, Atayün says the current situation is even graver than what happened in the coup periods.

Noting that the appearance of Iran in these clandestine business transactions was the last straw for the public, Atayün says the liquidation of the police department was part of a plan. Atayün says the most talented and skillful police chiefs and officers were removed from their posts despite their clean record and academic achievements as well as admirable professional performance. Atayün further says: “These experts and talented officers and chiefs were removed from their posts and replaced by previously banned officers who were involved in criminal activities in the past. Look, the İzmir police chief is a former convict. … They are now trying to present their previous conviction as a conspiracy.”

Hanefi Avcı started operation against Endüstri Holding

Noting that former Eskişehir Police Chief Hanefi Avcı deployed him to Konya in 2004 because the situation was grave there, Atayün says: “He came to Konya and told me what should be done in the city. Avcı offered the whole idea of what should be done. But now they argue that what happened was a conspiracy by the Gülen movement. If they still deny this, the photos depicting us together having dinner are in the archives. We took a photo [to preserve the] memory of that moment. These were done in the past. Avcı and his team approved the operation. He told us to be strong in the operation. … But now those who did wrong are trying to cover up their mistakes by relying on the ‘parallel state' argument.”

Asked about how the Okyanus operation was conducted, Atayün says: “We conducted an operation against clandestine groups. We performed our duty under the law, nothing else. We referred the criminal file to the prosecutors. We acted in line with instructions from prosecutors. … Those who undersigned the relevant documents in the past in this operation are now conducting a counter-operation. They are planning conspiracies by reliance on false statements. And those who did not tell lies were reassigned to different positions and subjected to harassment. Many of our complaints were not taken into consideration for months.”

Asked why the Okyanus operation was conducted, Atayün says: “There was a person named Nusret Argun in the file. We had a booklet offering extensive information on his life. The booklet said he was a small vendor in 1994. But he was involved in huge public tenders in Konya after 2008. In a decade, he became extremely rich. This was against the laws of physics in this world. So we did some work on this matter. And we conducted some other operations against other groups as well. There has not been a single acquittal in these operations since 2004. Most of the suspects were convicted in the trials. We are talking about a group that made a fortune by reliance on threats and blackmailing.”

Atayün further recalls that there were many files of corruption involving AK Party figures before the Dec. 17 operations. He also underlines that they have conducted a number of corruption operations before; Okyanus was just one of these corruption operations where the corrupt activities of some AK Party figures were exposed. Atayün notes that files include phone talks by five AK Party deputies which were then investigated, adding that some of these implicated AK Party figures threatened them. Atayün further says: “Salih Tuzcu was the police chief of Konya. They [AK Party deputies] came to the police station together with Abdullah Çetinkaya, Kerim Özkul, Muharrem Candan, Özkan Öksüz and Hasan Angı [all AK Party deputies]. They told us that Nusret Argun was a good Muslim and a good businessman. With the exception of Angı, all others exerted extreme pressure on us.”

Atayün says the relevant investigation file contains the phone conversations of these deputies, adding that some irregularities concerning the suspects are also detailed in the file. He further notes: “The file refers to threats by Abdullah Çetinkaya against me. Let me tell you something else: We met with former Agriculture Minister Sami Güçlü and Konya Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Tahir Akyürek. There was a match between Konya and Trabzonspor. We met after the football game. They were briefed on this matter. We told them we complied with the law. And they responded by saying that they did not know this was the case and told us to do whatever the law requires. We observed that some of the AK Party figures supported Argun. … This man was considered a religious person; but what he did surprised us. We also observed that some received bribes to ensure that this money would not go to so-called enemies of Islam.”

Atayün says the corruption was not limited to Konya alone, noting that there was strong evidence suggesting that it was also linked to Ankara. Arguing that the suspects made a connection with then-Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, Atayün says the suspect disclosed at the hearing that he talked to Atalay, who promised to prevent an operation. Atayün also said: “The suspect said this in court. This is confirmed by media reports. He said he talked to Beşir Atalay twice. We hear the instructions from our ministers. But we also have to hear the prosecutor and the judges out of legal obligation. There are a number of rulings by prosecutors and judges in this file, which is not merely based on wiretapping alone. The relevant institutions of the state supervised the monetary and financial transactions of these people to prove the irregularities. We never violated the privacy of the suspects in the searches. Child porn and bestiality videos were found in some of the suspects' homes during the searches. We never leaked these to the media to protect their dignity. If we had been ill-intentioned, we would have distributed these. But now Nusret Argun, the suspect in this case, made a statement against us to ensure the reopening of the file.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 May 2015, Saturday