By Abdullah Bozkurt
June 22, 2015
The landmark defence put up by Turkey's veteran anti-terror public prosecutors -- who were unjustly detained in an Islamist-led hush-up of investigations into the government record of aiding and abetting radical groups in Syria including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- has helped to assemble the larger Turkish jigsaw puzzle by putting more pieces into the public domain.
The video recordings of the arraignment hearings of four public prosecutors and one gendarmerie colonel who previously carried out investigations into terrorist activities, including the infamous intervention into the arms-laden trucks headed for Syria in January 2014, were leaked thanks to great investigative work by court reporter Arzu Yıldız, who works for the independent news portal grihat.com. In their defense, delivered at the Tarsus 2nd High Criminal Court -- a kangaroo court for all intents and purposes because it was hastily arranged by an administrative judicial council to secure the arrest of those who are involved in the interception of the arms trucks -- prosecutors have lifted the curtain on the pervasive clandestine and illegal activities of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in supporting terrorism with the full backing of the political Islamists in the government with the hope of creating proxies in the Middle East.
More details have emerged on a key operative named Haisam Toubaljeh, also known as Heysem Topalca in Turkey, who has been a crucial figure, a Syrian Turkmen who is suspected of involvement in recruiting foreign fighters and smuggling arms to Syria. Prosecutors have said they traced this man's footprints to the twin bombings in the Turkish border town of Reyhanlı, which claimed the lives of 53 people on May 11, 2013. Accordingly, two suspects who stood trial as part of an investigation into the Reyhanlı incident said what they claimed to be a Turkish official named Toubaljeh had pushed them to mastermind the attack. The attack came only five days before then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's scheduled visit to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama in the White House. If MİT was involved in staging the Reyhanlı bombing through the contractor Toubaljeh, one may naturally draw the conclusion that the attack was deliberately planned as a false flag operation to prod the US into a military engagement in Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power.
This controversial man has also been accused of facilitating the entry of three terrorists as well as the terror attack in the central Anatolian province of Niğde in March 2014 that killed three people, including two police officers. The suspected ISIL militants in the case have been identified as Çendrim Ramadani, Benjamin Xu and Muhammed Zakiri, who are citizens of Switzerland, Germany and Macedonia, respectively. Their trial is still ongoing, and in fact the second hearing of the case was held last week, during which the court said it will look into alleged links between Toubaljeh -- who is also a suspect in the case and remains at large -- and the Turkish intelligence agency. However, many believe that nothing substantive will come out of this trial because the suspects were kept away from the courthouse, after the Justice Ministry mentioned security concerns. They linked up to the hearing via a teleconference, which was often interrupted and did not allow an effective cross-examination by the lawyers of the victims. The real concern lingering in the minds of the Islamists is that these three suspects -- who are kept separate from each other in jail -- may speak up and spill the dirt on the government if they are brought to the court in person.
Toubaljeh's name also surfaced in May 2013 in the case of 12 members of Syria's militant al-Nusra group arrested in connection with the seized chemical materials that could be used to make sarin gas (also known as nerve gas), which was going to be used in a bomb attack on Turkish soil. The ringleader of the network was a man identified as Hytham Quassap, another name allegedly used by Toubaljeh. He was arrested by Turkish police but let go in July 2013. Toubaljeh is believed to have been involved in numerous cases of smuggling as well as the transfer of almost 1,000 rocket heads to Syria, which were intercepted in November 2013 in Adana by security forces.
According to Turkish police intelligence, Toubaljeh moved in and out of Turkey hundreds of times between 2011 and 2014 and remains at large despite the fact that he was detained several times by law enforcement agencies. He has a criminal record in police department files for involvement with al-Qaeda and his smuggling network. He must have powerful friends in the Turkish government who always rescue him from legal troubles when needed. That drew the attention of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), whose deputy Ali Özgündüz addressed a parliamentary questionnaire to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) regarding Toubaljeh. He has not received an answer to his probe despite the fact that the government is obliged to respond to such formal requests within 15 days.
His codename in Syria is Hadji, a reference to an honorific title given to Muslim pilgrimages. He is reportedly the leader of a Turkmen unit known as al-Huva Billa that is active in the Kastav and Bayt Milik areas of Syria. Given that he reportedly works with al-Qaeda, ISIL, Nusra and all type of radical groups in Syria as well as with the notorious Turkish intelligence, Toubaljeh must have developed quite a network of friendship with Islamists in Turkey and its immediate neighbourhood as a smuggler who get things done and delivered. The veteran prosecutors who unmasked this shadowy guy are in jail because his masters in the Turkish government are afraid of exposing themselves and the dirty plans they allegedly plotted against this nation, including murdering dozens of innocent civilians in cold blood in order to advance their political goals.