by Ian Greenhalgh
A terrible massacre of peaceful protesters took place in the Turkish capital this week. The BBC described the event in an online article:
“Two explosions at a peace rally in the Turkish capital Ankara have killed at least 95 people and injured 245, according to officials.
TV footage showed scenes of panic and people lying on the ground covered in blood, amid protest banners.
The blasts took place near the city’s central train station as people gathered for a march organised by leftist groups.
The attack is the deadliest ever of its kind on Turkish soil.”
No-one has claimed responsibility for this terrible crime but the identity of the victims gives us a strong indicator of the identity of the likely culprit. As the BBC explains, the young people who had gathered were protesting against the Erdogan regime and it’s aggressive and oppressive treatment of the Kurdish minority:
“The rally was demanding an end to the violence between the Kurdish separatist PKK militants and the Turkish government, and had been due to start at 12:00 local time.
The pro-Kurdish HDP party was among those attending, and it said in a statement that it believes its members were the main target of the bombings.
HDP leader Selahettin Demirtas has blamed the state for the attack and has cancelled all election rallies. Mr Demirtas angrily condemned the government as “murderers” and said it had blood on its hands.
The party has previously blamed the government for colluding in attacks on Kurdish activists, which the government denies.”
Clearly, the pro-Kurdish victims of this massacre are pointing the finger of blame squarely at the Erdogan regime. One fact that indicates foreknowledge of the hideous events by the powers-that-be was the lack of any police presence in the vicinity of the bombings. Normally, whenever there is any public protest in Turkey, it is heavily policed; on this occasion, the police were notably absent and as a result, no police were among the casualties. However, the police were swiftly on the scene and according to the BBC report, behaved in a reprehensible manner:
“Bulent Tekdemir, who was at the rally, told the BBC that the police used tear gas “as soon as the bomb went off”, and “would not let ambulances through”.
A local resident said that angry people tried to attack police cars after the blast. The HDP tweeted that police “attacked” people carrying the injured away.”
The reprehensible actions of the Turkish police and their absence from the vicinity of the bombings does not prove anything, but it is certainly suspicious and adds fuel to the fires of protest that have sprung up since the massacre – Istanbul and Ankara witnessed large-scale demonstrations condemning the bomb attacks.
The background to this latest atrocity
This is the third murderous bomb attack in Turkey this year. In June a HDP rally in the city of Diyarbakir was bombed; in July, a suicide bombing in the town of Suruc on the Syrian border killed at least 30 young activists.
The June bombing took place in the run-up to the Turkish general election which resulted in no party winning a workable majority and the Kurdish HDP winning several seats, thus becoming represented in the national parliament for the first time. The incumbent Erdogan government has remained in power since, despite not holding a mandate and being unconstitutional. Erdogan recently called a snap election for 1st November where he hopes to win an outright majority and therefore give his regime a degree of legitimacy.
I have a hard time believing that it is anything other than highly suspicious that for a second time, a bomb attack has taken place mere weeks before the country goes to the polls to elect a new national government. I am not alone in my suspicions, many in Turkey have been expecting something to happen in the run-up to the repeat election and this bloody event in the centre of the nation’s capital has many Turks wondering what else is going to happen in the near future.
In common with the latest bombing in Ankara, no-one claimed responsibility for the Suruc attack and in both instances, the Erdogan regime blamed Islamic State, despite failing to provide any evidence to support this claim. In both cases, pro-Kurdish protesters were targeted. Many in Turkey have been vocally criticising the Erdogan regime for dividing the country by carrying on a low-intensity civil war with it’s Kurdish population.
The likely culprit – Turkey’s ‘Deep State’
Many Turkish people, including the pro-Kurdish HDP are blaming what they call ‘Gizli Devlet’ (The Deep State) which they say is a shadowy group of nationalist forces that support and collude with the Erdogan regime. The existence of a Deep State has been talked about in Turkey for 20 years or more. The general public were made aware of the issue in 1996 by the infamous Susurluk scandal.
On November 3, 1996, a black Mercedes 600 SEL pulled away from the plush Onura Hotel in Kuşadası near Izmir and travelled towards Istanbul. Turkeys roads are notoriously dangerous and on the dark highway near the town of Susurluk, the Mercedes smashed into an oncoming truck while travelling at 180km/h. Three of its four passengers died in the pile-up.
The paramedics pulled out the bodies of gangster Abdullah Çatlı, a former leader of the Grey Wolves ultra-rightist militia who was wanted by police for multiple murders and drug trafficking; Huseyin Kocadağ, a senior police official; and Çatlı’s girlfriend, beauty queen Gonca Us. Sedat Bucak, an MP, escaped with a broken leg and fractured skull.
In the boot they found a horde of illegal items including numerous 9mm Beretta and Saddam (Beretta 92) pistols, one .22 caliber Beretta with a silencer, and two Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns. There were also two listening device, a cache of narcotics and thousands of U.S. dollars.
When the accident hit the papers, it emerged that Catli, a heroin trafficker on Interpols wanted list, was carrying a diplomatic passport signed by none other than the Turkish Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar. The peculiar association of senior policeman, politician and gangster plus their links to Interior Minister Ağar led to a number of investigations, including a parliamentary inquiry, of what became known as the Susurluk Scandal.
The Susurluk Incident became Turkeys Watergate, exposing the deep links between the Turkish state, terrorists and drug traffickers. For a brief moment, it lit up everything that was really happening behind the stage, revealing the Deep State – the politicians, military officers and intelligence officials who worked with drug bosses to move drugs from Afghanistan into Europe.
Turkish newspaper columnist Cengiz Candar, who has no doubt a “deep state” exists explained the significance of the Susurluk Incident:
“Susurluk revealed weird connections between state officials and those who operate outside the limits of the law. It happened at a time when we had a lot of extra-judicial killings in Turkey, but the investigation stopped just as there was speculation it was reaching very sensitive spots, even the military establishment. That only confirmed the existence of these networks in the public consciousness.”
Devastatingly it emerged that a number of infamous figures in the drug game were being given Turkish Diplomatic credentials with which to operate. Turkey has long been a key player in the international heroin trade, opium from the east being processed into Heroin in Turkish labs then trafficked into Europe by the Turkish mafia. Further, it had long been speculated that the Turkish government had not just turned a blind eye to this trade but had actively assisted and profited from it.
The horrific car accident in Susurluk grimly illuminated the fact that Turkish state officials colluded with drug barons to traffic drugs into Europe and Britain. Abdullah Çatlı had been trafficking heroin to the UK with the aid of the Turkish embassy in London which issued him a passport under his alias Mehmet Ozbay. He also had a UK work permit.
After Susurluk, Huseyin Baybasin, another Turkish heroin kingpin now in jail in Holland, went public with revelations about state corruption and his role in handling the drugs which came through the Turkish Consulate in London. Baybasin made it clear that while he was part of the Turkish mafia, he was was carrying this trafficking out on behalf of a mafia group of which the rulers of Turkey were a key part.
The Ergenekon Investigation
Further revelations about the Susurluk Incident and the Deep State were forthcoming in 2008 with the exposure of an ultra-nationalist gang known as Ergenekon, exposed when 33 of its alleged members were seized in a police raid in late January.
Ergenekon was alleged to be a clandestine, secularist ultra-nationalist organization in Turkey with possible ties to members of the country’s military and security forces. The claims widely reported in the Turkish press alleged the gang was plotting to bring down the government through a plan to assassinate a string of Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, fomenting chaos and provoking a military intervention in 2009.
During the Ergenekon investigation, anonymous witnesses revealed that the Susurluk Incident had been an assassination. Turkish Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar had met with the victims at the hotel in Kuşadası and should have been in the car with them but had been warned off by drug baron Sami Hostan. Ağar should, according to the assassination plan, have died along with the others.
According to the same anonymous witness, everyone initially survived the crash, which was precipitated by remotely disabling the brakes of the Mercedes. A three-person team came and snapped the necks of Us and Çatlı. Bucak was rescued by his guards Ercan Ersoy and Ali Fevzi Bir (a.k.a. “Aliço”), who also took his bag from the boot and called Gray Wolf Haluk Kırcı. One of the first people to visit the site was mafia king Ali Yasak, better known as “Drej Ali”, who took Çatlı’s bag from the car.
It should be noted that a prosecutor from Ilgin had made similar allegations ten years earlier during the investigation into the Susurluk Incident.
The Deep States links to Operation Gladio
Turkey is a large and strategically located state that has been a NATO member since 1952 and is a key long term US Middle Eastern ally. NATO’s “Stay Behind” Gladio armies wreaked more carnage upon Turkey than any of their other Western European targets during the Cold war. The NATO operation utilized the fascist and ultra-nationalist National Action Party and its youth wing, the Gray Wolves. The Turkish “Stay Behind” also resulted in the type of right-wing terror program and destabilization effort that was also seen in Italy in the 1970s and 80s with incidents such as the Bologna train station bombing.
Abdullah Çatlı was both a Turkish secret government agent and contract killer for the Counter-Guerrilla. He led the Grey Wolves, the youth branch of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) during the 1970s. His death in the Susurluk car crash revealed the depth of the state’s complicity in organized crime. Çatlı was a hit man for the state, ordered to kill suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Armenian ASALA.
Kendal Nezan of the Kurdish Institute of Paris said that Abdullah Çatlı “is reckoned to have been one of the main perpetrators of underground operations carried out by the Turkish branch of the Gladio organisation and had played a key role in the bloody events of the period 1976–1980 which paved the way for the military coup d’état of September 1980. As the young head of the far-right Grey Wolves militia, he had been accused, among other things, of the murder of seven left-wing students.”
Çatlı was responsible, along with Haluk Kırcı and several other MHP members, for the 9 October 1978 Bahçelievler Massacre in which seven university students, members of the Workers Party of Turkey (TIP), were murdered. He is also said to have helped Mehmet Ali Ağca murder the left-wing newspaper editor Abdi İpekçi on 1 January 1979, in Istanbul; then he helped Ağca escape from an Istanbul military prison later in 1979. According to investigative journalist Lucy Komisar, Abdullah Çatlı “reportedly helped organize Agca’s escape from an Istanbul military prison, and some have suggested Catli was even involved in the 1981 Pope’s assassination attempt”.
In 1998 the magazine Monde Diplomatique alleged that Abdullah Çatlı had organized the assassination attempt “in exchange for the sum of 3 million German marks” for the Grey Wolves. In 1985 in Rome, Catli declared to a judge “that he had been contacted by the BND, the German intelligence agency who promised him a nice sum of money if he implicated the Russian and Bulgarian services in the assassination attempt against the Pope”.
Çatlı was seen in the company of Stefano Delle Chiaie, an Italian neofascist who worked for Gladio, a secret NATO stay-behind paramilitary organization, while “touring Latin America, and on a visit to Miami in September 1982”. He then went to France, where, under the alias of Hasan Kurtoglu, he planned a series of attacks on Armenian interests and on the ASALA, including the blowing up of the Armenian monument at Alfortville on 3 May 1984 and the attempted murder of activist Ara Toranian.
According to founding member of Counter-Guerrilla Alparslan Türkeş, who was the founder of the Grey Wolves, “Çatlı has co-operated in the frame of a secret service working for the well-being of the state”.
Turkish intelligence service (MIT) paid Çatli in heroin, and he was eventually arrested in Paris on 24 October 1984 for drug trafficking. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and in 1988 he was handed over to Switzerland, where he was also wanted on charges of drug dealing. However, he escaped in March 1990 with the assistance of mysterious accomplices. He returned to Turkey, and was then recruited by the police for “special missions” while he was officially being sought by the Turkish authorities for murder.
Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Çiller declared on 4 October 1993: “We know the list of businessmen and artists subjected to racketeering by the PKK and we shall be bringing their members to account.” Beginning on 14 January 1994, almost a hundred people were kidnapped by commandos wearing uniforms and travelling in police vehicles and then killed somewhere along the road from Ankara to Istanbul. Çatli demanded money from people who were on “Çiller’s list”, promising to get their names removed. One of his victims, Behçet Cantürk, was to pay ten million dollars, to which Casino King Omer Luftu Topal added a further seventeen million. However, after receiving the money, Çatli then went on to have them kidnapped and killed, and sometimes tortured beforehand.
According to Mehmet Eymür, a team led by Çatlı was responsible for the 1995 deaths of Iranian spies Lazım Esmaeili and Askar Simitko. Çatlı’s fingerprint was also allegedly found on the drum of one of the machine guns used to assassinate casino king Ömer Lütfü Topal. In 1996 Çatlı twice kidnapped Mehmet Ali Yaprak.
Turkey has been a country where assassinations, bribery and organised crime on the highest levels have been sadly all too common for many decades. The ‘Deep State’ has been responsible for most, if not all of these crimes. When we probe beneath the surface of this Deep State we discover a host of links to the western intelligence services, not least the CIA via Operation Gladio and the ‘Stay Behind’ organisations established throughout Western Europe during the Cold War. As is typical with the operations of the CIA and the other western intelligence services, drug trafficking and politically motivated murder have been the key pillars supporting this hidden network.
It is clear that the Deep State continues to function within Turkey today and they must be considered the prime suspects in the murderous bomb attacks against innocent and peaceful protesters.
Ian Greenhalgh is a photographer and historian with a particular interest in military history and the real causes of conflicts.
His studies in history and background in the media industry have given him a keen insight into the use of mass media as a creator of conflict in the modern world.
His favored areas of study include state sponsored terrorism, media manufactured reality and the role of intelligence services in manipulation of populations and the perception of events.
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