‘Open Pandora’s box’ on Turkish weapons transfers to Syrian jihadists, says mobster Sedat Peker

(Updates with response from SADAT)

Releasing his eighth video on another Sunday morning, Turkish mafia boss Sedat Peker has turned the nation’s attention towards the illicit transfer of weapons to jihadist groups in Syria, and illegal commerce systems controlled by Turkish intelligence.

“Let’s open the first Pandora’s box,” Peker said. “What do you need in order to carry on commerce in Syria? You go to Mr Metin Kıratlı, the Presidential Director of Administrative Affairs in the Külliye.”

Külliye, or ‘campus’, is the name Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uses for his presidential complex.

“Smuggled crude oil, tea, sugar, aluminium, copper, used cars… These add up to billions of dollars, huge sums of money,” Peker said.

Kıratlı’s approval would get potential smugglers an audience with MT Group, Peker said, where they would appeal to Murat Sancak, a close ally of Erdoğan and the heir to Turkey’s leading military vehicle manufacturer BMC, and Ramazan Öztürk, the son of BMC Board Member Talip Öztürk.

“After you pass them, you can go to the finances guy of al Nusra, Abu Abdurrahman. He sometimes goes by Abu Sheima. That is how trade works now,” Peker said.

The mobster said Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and former finance minister who hasn’t been seen in public since his contentious resignation in November last year, was hiding out in a house Murat Sancak owns in Istanbul’s western Beylikdüzü district.

Responding to Erdoğan’s Wednesday comments that criminals would be brought to the country and handed over to the courts, Peker said, “Would bringing me in change the truth, Brother Tayyip? If I am part of an international conspiracy, then in the next video I will sit with Brother Tayyip and as a brother I will speak.”

“I was there when you had no power. None of them were around,” the mobster said, addressing Erdoğan.

Peker gave details on the MİT trucks incident, where Turkey’s intelligence service was caught allegedly transporting weapons to Syrian jihadists under the guise of humanitarian aid for the Turkmen population in northwest Syria.

“UAVs, radios enough for all fighters there, bulletproof vests, this, that, trucks’ full…” Peker said. “We thought up this project, and spoke with a lawmaker friend of ours. He took the idea and passed it along to the necessary places. Then they said they would give us extra trucks, to travel alongside ours.”

Peker said there had been a shipment of humanitarian aid, promoted as so under the name of the mobster himself, and then other trucks were added to his convoy.

“We didn’t know what was in the vehicles,” Peker said, before immediately correcting himself. “When I say we didn’t know, I mean there were weapons, I am not a naïve child.”

The organisation wasn’t handled by the national intelligence service MİT, as reported in opposition media, Peker said.

According to the Mafia boss, the weapons transfers were organised by SADAT, a defence consultancy company owned by a former security adviser to Erdoğan.

“There was no processing, no records,” Peker said. “I bought everything with my own money, except those, but it all goes under my name.”

Peker said his men delivered aid to Turkmens in Syria, who sent back videos thanking him. In one of the videos, one man spoke Arabic, he said. “Then our Turkmen friends said the men were with al Nusra. Others confirmed that the shipment was going to al Nusra. Yes, through me. I am being sincere. But I didn’t send them, SADAT did.”

The day before Peker’s eighth release was the sixth anniversary of secular-left wing newspaper Cumhuriyet releasing footage from searches conducted on trucks that allegedly belonged to the MİT, confirming the transport of at least 1,000 mortar shells, 1,000 artillery shells and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibres.

The searches themselves were conducted in November 2013 and January 2014 by gendarmerie forces near the Syrian border, in the Adana province.

Following Cumhuriyet’s leaks, the paper’s editor-in-chief at the time, veteran journalist Can Dündar, was charged with espionage and arrested for several months. In October last year, a court seized all assets of Dündar, who has lived in exile in Germany since his release from prison. In December, the journalist was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In Syria, Turkey continues to support al Nusra, since renamed as Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS). The group launched a military campaign last year against its Islamist rivals in the rebel-held Idlib province, Voice of America reported at the time.

“Take care of yourselves, and keep me in your prayers, my brothers,” Peker said at the end of his video. “Even if you are provoked, for Allah’s sake, never take to the streets. Don’t let anybody use you.”

Peker has spoken about provocations before, warning against nationalist-minded people participating in social unrest.

“They will intimidate people, saying the country is about to go into chaos,” Peker continued his warnings with. “Then the deep state guys have their men among terrorist organisations, those will come into play. They will spoil even the good things. Don’t do it!”

SADAT issued a statement in response to Peker's allegations, saying the mobster was “slinging mud” to divert attention away from his admissions of guilt.

“We are calling on the slanderers to prove their false claims, and to turn over what documents they have to the prosecutors,” SADAT said. “Peker admits to selling weapons to terrorist groups; however, our company has no relation to weapons Peker delivered to terrorist groups.”

SADAT has “never worked in any capacity with any groups in Syria”, the company said.

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