Intelligence Report on Al-Qaeda: Most Explicit Condemnation Comes from Gulen

The Turkish Security Directorate Intelligence Department has publicized a report on al-Qaeda's Turkish arm. The organization, which claimed responsibility for the London attacks last Thursday, also undertook four separate bomb attacks in Istanbul two years ago directed at Jewish and British targets.

The 400 page report prepared in book format reveals many hitherto unknown facts, such as the identities of the Turkish nationals who received training at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The most explicit condemnation of al-Qaeda's acts come from Fethullah Gulen, the report noted. "One of the men I hate the most in the world is Osama bin Laden," quotes the intelligence report from Gulen: "For he has sullied the bright face of Islam. He created an impure image. The reparation for the damage he has caused requires years of work, even though we use all our strength to achieve this end. Substituting the Islamic cause for his own cravings, Bin Laden is committing monstrous acts. The men surrounding him are no better. If there are such people in Turkey, they too are the same."

According to the report, 245 individuals were taken into custody following the Istanbul attacks. Sixty-two of them were arrested and charged. Some elucidations concerning the video images sent to various TV channels following the blasts in Istanbul and the intelligence findings were also included in the report. The thirty-minute video was prepared in March 2004. It contains footage of three individuals standing with their faces covered, holding Kalashnikovs. The person making the announcement in the footage is indicated as Habip Akdas. There are also various images of other members who were involved in the Istanbul attacks in the video including the images of the fugitive Azat Ekinci who was shot dead in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda Turkey's leader Habip Akdas, the report notes, first conceived of the idea of an attack in Turkey while in the Afghanistan camps. He sent many people from Turkey to the Kandahar Muasker Faruk camp to receive training and Laden himself visited the camp twice during the training activities. A trainee of the Camp, Hakan Caliskan thought of kidnapping members from the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association in order to exact ransoms. These trainees were forced to leave Afghanistan as US and coalition forces attacked Afghanistan.

In March 2002, Akdas and Gurcan Bac began preparations for attacks targeting the US Incirlik Military Base in Adana, an Israeli ship, US and Israel consulates and synagogues. In October 2003, Akdas began building the bombs. As Bac and Feridun Ugurlu would hit the Israeli ship, Mesut Cubuk would target the Beth Israel Synagogue and Ilyas Kuncak would blow up the HSBC Bank Turkey Headquarters. However, one target had to be altered after the Israeli ship did not arrive at is intended destination.

The amount of explosive material used in the Synagogue Attacks was 3.5 tons

On 15 November 2003, the Beth Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues attacks took place. Following the attacks Feridun Ugurlu and Yusuf Polat met in Istanbul. In a taxi driven by Suat Sarman, Ugurlu told Polat that 3.5 tons of explosive material were used in the attack. Two days after the synagogue attacks, on 17 November 2003, Ilyas Kuncak left his house saying, "I'm going to jihad'. In 10 October 2003, the HSBC Bank and British Consulate attacks occurred. Al-Qaeda's Turkish arm leader Akdas, and coordinator of the attacks Bac, left the country through the Cilvegozu border gate in Hatay, a southern Turkish city. The former left the country a day before the attacks using a fake passport under the name of Mehmet Ali Itiz and the latter left a day after the attacks also using a fake ID under the name of Abdullah Demir.

Does not distinguish the guilty from the innocent

The report lists the aspects that the Istanbul attacks share with other al-Qaeda attacks around the world. The primary target of al-Qaeda is the US and its allies. The network attacks economic targets, as was the case in the 9/11 attacks targeting the World Trade Center. Also among its targets, there are consulates, as attested in the attacks targeting US consulates in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania. They pay special attention to using passports without Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iranian visas in them when traveling internationally. Their attacks are synchronized. The attackers hit their targets using vehicles. Fertilizers are employed in the fabrication of explosives. For each attack plan, there is a coordinator who supervises the preparations and the attack. Prior to each attack threat messages are publicized.

The report's chapter regarding training activities in Afghanistan is particularly striking. The report notes that, a camp in Afghanistan was being referred to as "Turk's Camp" because the number of the Turkish nationals receiving training there exceeded those of other nationalities. The camps had trained hundreds of militants by the time the Taliban regime was ousted. The report lists the names of 107 Turkish nationals who received training in these camps. The report indicates that some of these passed to Iraq following the US invasion of Iraq. The names of those who joined the ranks of Ansar-ul Islam active in Northern Iraq are, Birol Coruh alias Yusuf Yahya, Tarkan Kalayci alias Tarik, Muhammet Bastin alias Abdulmelik, Metin Bak alias Abdulmetin, Abdurrahman Taskiran, Fehmi Kocakli alias Muhammed Emin and two individuals using the code names Ismail and Murat.

The report also includes information about the standpoints of various religious circles in Turkey with regard to the Istanbul attacks. The standpoints are presented under three main categories, religiously motivated terror organizations, radical circles and Islamic orders' circles. Under the category, "Islamic orders' circles" the report points at Fethullah Gulen as having voiced the most explicit condemnation of the terror acts, their motives and perpetrators.

By Sedat Gunec Published: Tuesday July 19, 2005

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