Turkish army received key intelligence prior to coup: Former aide to chief of general staff
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARAThe army received two key pieces of intelligence on November 2015 and February 2016 about a possible upcoming coup attempt, Orhan Yıkılgan, the former top aide to Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, has testified in his defense, claiming that it was a “strategic mistake to not take necessary measures”
“A report arrived in November 2015. It was a report about something like the possibility of a coup attempt similar to what ended up happening on July 15, 2016. Work was carried out about it. Second Chief Yaşar Güler initiated work [to investigate] whether there was such a possibility or not. It was ultimately decided that there could not be any event at that scale,” Yıkılgan said on May 2, speaking at the ongoing trial of events that took place at the General Staff Headquarters during the July 2016 coup attempt.
“After that, in February 2016 there were something that I took seriously and I conveyed it to the generals because it was serious,” he added.
Yıkılgan stated that he received information that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had prepared a report that was conveyed to the Prime Ministry, including important allegations from a Special Forces colonel.
“I conveyed this to [Gen. Akar] before his meeting with the MİT undersecretary,” he said, adding that Akar used to bring papers including press reports and allegations about the issue to his meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
‘Putschists are mixed group’
In response to the question of why the police were not informed about the notification that came from the MİT, Yıkılgan said it was “clear that there was a cover up.”
Regarding the affiliation of the perpetrators, Yıkılgan said it was “attempted by mixed groups. [Fethullah Terror Organization] FETÖ members may have been among them, others may also have been among them.”
He also said he did not know the names of the generals who were allegedly preparing a coup attempt, but there were rumors that one of them was Semih Terzi, the special ops commander in charge of operations at the Syrian border. Terzi, who was shot dead during the failed coup attempt, is known to be a general who flew over Silopi to come to the Special Forces Commandership on the night of the coup, allegedly to take command of the force.
“I did not write it in the notes I gave to [Akar], because there were doubts. The one who told me about Terzi was from the land forces and does not know the air forces. The MİT already has those names anyway,” he said.
‘Three strategic mistakes’
Yıkılgan said that when he was in his post the army made “three strategic mistakes.”
“One of them was the Uludere incident, the second was the [downing of] the Russian jet in November 2015. The third strategic mistake was that necessary measures were not taken, even though the coup was waiting to happen,” he said, referring to the incident in Turkey’s southeastern province Uludere in which 34 civilians were killed in a raid carried out by Turkish F-16s in December 2011.
‘Akar was my reference’
Yıkılgan denied having any affiliation with FETÖ or the coup attempt.
“I am not a member of FETÖ nor am I a putschist … Gen. Akar is my reference for not being a member of FETÖ,” he said.
Denying the witness statement of Lieutenant Zübeyir Deniz Çetinkaya accusing Yıkılgan of being a FETÖ member, Yıkılgan said this accusation was part of personal rivalry.
“There is an information indicating that this individual was a member of the Kurdoğlu community. I conveyed that information to Akar. He started to make these accusations after that,” he added.