Turkish prosecutor seeks arrest of senior commanders in case of intel trucks to Syria

Turkish prosecutor seeks arrest of senior commanders in case of intel trucks to Syria

Turkish prosecutor seeks arrest of senior commanders in case of intel trucks to Syria

File photo from the case against the four prosecutors who ordered the stopping and searching of Syria-bound intelligence trucks in January 2014 and a staff colonel involved in the incident. Cihan Photo

A Turkish prosecutor has asked for the arrest of senior commanders in a case involving Syria-bound trucks sent by Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and as part of an investigation into the alleged creation of a fake terrorist group called Selam Tevhid, in which U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen is a suspect along with 121 others.

Istanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor İrfan Fidan interrogated Ankara Gendarmerie Regional Commander Maj. Gen. İbrahim Aydın, Brig. Gen. Hamza Celepoğlu and Ret. Col. Burhanettin Cihangiroğlu on Nov. 28 and sent them to court appealing for their arrest on Nov. 29.

The subject of the MİT’s purported arms deliveries to Syria has been high on the country’s agenda in the wake of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet on Nov. 24, and the arrest of two prominent journalists, daily Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül, on Nov. 26 on charges of collecting and revealing secret documents for espionage and supporting (though not being a member of) an armed terrorist organization. The accusations against Dündar and Gül were based on reports in Cumhuriyet regarding the Syria-bound MİT trucks.

“By stopping MİT trucks and checking what was inside, they announced it to the world through espionage. What did they say then? They said, ‘These [trucks] are providing weapons for a terrorist organization.’ They exposed the humanitarian assistance which was sent to Bayırbucak Turkmens in this way. They exposed what was sent to the Free Syrian Army [FSA] in this way,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Nov. 28.

In January 2014, trucks belonging to the MİT were stopped by a prosecutor who sought to have the gendarmerie search the vehicles in the southern province of Adana before they crossed into Syria. Claiming that the trucks were carrying “humanitarian aid to Turkmens” in the war-torn country, the Turkish government accused followers of Gülen in the judiciary and security institutions of illegally ordering the search.

In February 2014, a ban was imposed on the publication of reports about the search, and in April 2015 a Turkish court arrested 17 active soldiers who stopped the trucks.

There has long been speculation that the aid was actually being sent to jihadists in Syria.