Turkey’s intel chief first official to learn ISIL release
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA PhotoTurkey’s intelligence chief was the first official in Ankara to learn about the release of 32 Turkish drivers who had been kidnapped by Islamist militants in northern Iraq.
The first signals of the release came on July 1, after which Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), shared the information with the government, stressing that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was likely to release the hostages in Mosul, Hürriyet has learned.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu then briefed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) highest decision-making body, the Central Decision and Executive Council (MKYK), about the situation on the evening of July 2.
“We have come to the conclusion of the efforts. God willing, we will get the good news as soon as possible,” he reportedly said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Davutoğlu prepared the plan for the transfer of the drivers after Fidan’s initial briefing. The first phase of the plan was setting the rendezvous point in northern Iraq where the drivers would be taken by Turkish officials. The second phase was their delivery to Turkish Consul General Mehmet Akif İnam and MİT officials, before their transportation to Arbil by land. The fourth and final phase was their transportation to Turkey with a Turkish Airlines flight.
Fidan informed Davutoğlu that the plan was initiated at 12.30 p.m. local time on July 3, and moments later the drivers were on their way to Arbil after their release. The leak of the news to the media had created some concern in Ankara as ISIL “learns about all developments in Turkey,” a Turkish official told Hürriyet.
Davutoğlu learned from İnam that all drivers were free at around noon July 3, and personally spoke to one of the drivers, Müslüm Görmez, on the phone before making the public announcement about the release.
“I spent the last night without sleep,” Davutoğlu said at a press conference, promising to free the remaining 49 Turkish hostages seized by ISIL in Mosul.
A Turkish official declined to confirm or deny whether Turkey had paid ransom money to ISIL for the releases. “People can say what they want. If any money is paid, all organizations in the world would go hunting Turks. That’s why we won’t say anything,” he said.