Leading jihadist figure in Turkey Abu Hanzala convicted

Leading jihadist figure in Turkey Abu Hanzala convicted

Leading jihadist figure in Turkey Abu Hanzala convicted

One of the leading jihadist figures in Turkey, Halis Bayancuk, was convicted of establishing an armed organization and making terrorist propaganda by a court in the northwestern province of Sakarya on June 27.

Bayancuk, code-named Abu Hanzala, was sentenced to 12 years and six months jail time over charges of establishing an armed group, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The verdict that stated one year and six months of jail time for making terrorist propaganda was suspended.

The court said Bayancuk and other defendants were acquitted of attempting to remove the constitutional order, pointing to a lack of adequate evidence.

In his plea in the final hearing, Bayancuk denied the accusation of masterminding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) activities in Turkey.

“The claims depend on police and intelligence reports. We have been trying to prove the non-existence of something that does not exist. We only said we ate a meal in the place in Sakarya where the enforcement officers and the prosecutor insists organizational activities were held,” he said.

“I will continue to say democracy is shirk [the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism according to Islam]. Stay away from democracy, it takes people to hellfire,” Bayancuk said.

One of the seven other defendants, İsmail Helvacıoğlu, was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail for being a member of an armed terrorist organization whereas the others were sentenced to six years and three months in jail.

The suspect was detained on May 30, 2017 in Istanbul and arrested by the court in Sakarya on June 17, 2017.

He was previously detained and arrested several times in Turkey. Back in 2015, he and his wife were arrested after police raided their home and seized a number of ISIL-linked documents, both digital and non-digital. He was later released in March 2016.

He was once again detained in March 2017 after threatening personnel of the Istanbul Governor’s Office via a video broadcast online, after a meeting he had planned to attend was canceled by the authorities.

Bayancuk had also been arrested in 2011 and 2014 for “being a member of al-Qaeda” and was released both times after serving a couple of months in jail.

Previous footage showed him threatening the Turkish authorities in a speech he made during a picnic in Istanbul’s Ömerli district.