A Turkish jihadist who set up a scheme to extract money from families whose sons and daughters went to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was acquitted by a Turkish court, Nordic Monitor has learned.
According to wiretaps, 33-year-old Yunus Çırpır, a militant indicted on ISIL charges, asked a Turkish man for 30,000 Turkish lira (roughly $5,000) to retrieve his son, who had joined a jihadist group in a neighboring country. Despite the evidence against him, Çırpır remains a free man in Turkey today.
In a wiretap recorded on September 9, 2017 at 13:02:02, Çırpır told a man whose phone was registered under the name of Mehmet Hilal Konuklar that there was a job worth 30,000 Turkish lira. Çırpır said a young man had crossed to the other side of the border (into Syria or Iraq) and that his father would pay the fee if the son were to be brought back to Turkey. Çırpır adds that he had already informed his contacts of the boy’s whereabouts.
In a second wiretap recorded the next day, Çırpır discussed the deal with his associate Davut Dolayman, and the two talked about the down payment the father must provide and the commission they would take after the son’s retrieval. The same day the two spoke again and questioned the deal when the father asked for proof that his son was still alive and did not want to pay before seeing the evidence. Çırpır said he told the father that nobody would risk taking pictures of his son without first getting paid.
On October 12, 2017 Çırpır received a call from Davut and the two discussed a man identified only as “Yaşar,” who had been moving in and out of jihadist regions in Syria and Iraq. Asked where Yaşar currently was, Çırpır said he was in Kyrenia (Girne) in the northern part of Cyprus, which is under Turkish control. Çırpır asked Davut to talk to Yaşar because a group of jihadists who went to Syria had just come back to Turkey. It appears Yaşar was the man who could help deliver the boy using his contacts with jihadists.
The Istanbul police mobilized a team to follow Çırpır when he visited Istanbul for several days both in August and September of 2017. A search of his house revealed that he had multiple GSM lines and jihadist materials.
Çırpır operates within the cell of Halis Bayancuk (aka Abu Hanzala), a Turkish jihadist ideologue who helped many Turks join ISIL and other jihadist groups. Bayancuk has been in and out of prison in Turkey and is currently in pre-trial detention. A suspect testimony obtained by the police on November 5, 2017 placed Çırpır as the operative who went to Erzurum province to organize a jihadist group aligned with Abu Hanzala.
Çırpır was listed as suspect number 22 in ISIL indictment No. 2017/1415 filed with the Erzurum High Criminal Court by Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Ali Sen on November 28, 2017. He faces jail time of up to 15 years for administering and establishing a terrorist organization under Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 314 (1) if convicted. He may even receive a longer sentence if the court accepts an additional charge under Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, which foresees a 50 percent increase in the original sentence.
Çırpır was detained by counterterrorism police on October 29, 2017 but was released on bail on November 6, 2017. At the end of his trial, which concluded on November 22, 2018, the new Turkish prosecutor, Mustafa Savaş, who replaced Şen during the trial, requested his acquittal, citing a lack of evidence. The panel of judges composed of presiding judge Yakup Taşlıova, Mustafa Akcan and Mehmet Ali Kibar at the Erzurum 4th High Criminal Court ruled unanimously for his acquittal. The court also ruled that the legal costs would be covered by the government and the travel ban on Çırpır would be lifted.
His birth registry shows he was born in the border town of Reyhanlı in the southern province of Hatay. He currently resides in the Aktas neighborhood in the province’s Kumlu district and continues to operate freely thanks to the Erdoğan government.