Witness in Ankara bombing trial says she distributed Turkish aid in ISIS territory

A witness has told the 2015 Ankara bombing trial that she travelled with one of the accused to Syria, where she distributed Turkish aid in territory controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS), Gazete Karınca news website reported.

On Oct. 10 2015, two ISIS suicide bombers targeted peace protestors outside Ankara’s railway station, killing 109 and injuring more than 500, the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history. The youngest victim among them was eight years old.

Erman Ekici is standing trial at Ankara’s 4th High Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in relation to the bombing. Sixteen other suspects are being tried in absentia.

These include Ömer Deniz Dündar, whose sister-in-law Merve Dündar gave evidence to the court on Wednesday, Gazete Karınca said.

Speaking via video link, Merve Dündar said she travelled from Germany to Turkey to marry Ömer Deniz Dündar’s brother, before joining al-Qaeda and then ISIS in Syria.   

While in Syria, Merve Dündar said she distributed aid from the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), a religious charitable organisation based in Istanbul.

“We were staying in ISIS territory in Syria and everyone had weapons. There were guns and grenades in our house as well, there were Kalashnikovs. ISIS was paying a certain salary there. There were many Turkish families where we lived,” she said, according to Gazete Karınca.

Asked whether it was true ISIS had paid for her to receive medical treatment in Turkey, Merve Dündar said she had repeatedly travelled to hospitals in the south eastern provinces of Elâzığ and Gaziantep.  

“I always went with my own identity,” she added.

The witness told the court she had last seen Ömer Deniz Dündar when he visited her home in Syria in late 2017 but had not heard from him since.

By her own account, the former ISIS member said she was later captured by the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG), before paying $12,000 to be smuggled out of a detention camp into a Turkish-controlled territory in Syria.

“We passed from Manbij to Jarablus, then they handed us over to the Turkish soldiers there,” Gazete Karınca cited her as saying.

“I gave a statement for nine days in Adıyaman police station. The lawsuit filed against me continues in Adıyaman’s 2nd Criminal Court.”

Merve Dündar said her husband was still being held by the YPG, but that she was being taken care of by his family in Turkey.

Asked whether she was receiving money from ISIS while in Turkey, she first replied “yes” before changing her answer to “no”, Gazete Karınca said.