By Abdullah Bozkurt
Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) planned to attack İncirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southeastern province of Adana, where the anti-ISIL coalition forces led by the United States are deployed, a secret Turkish military intelligence document has revealed.
According to the document, obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Turkish Land Forces Command intelligence unit dispatched an urgent note on July 14, 2016 to relevant security branches and informed the General Staff about intelligence picked up on ISIL. The intel note stated that ISIL had been planning to launch an attack on İncirlik Air Base and target aircraft at the base with a mortar strike.
The intelligence note was drafted by Lt. Yusuf Gül, who was serving as the intelligence analysis and assessment officer at the time. Gül was arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15, 2016 on dubious charges several days after he wrote this intelligence report on ISIL. The Turkish prosecutor presented KakaoTalk, a free messaging application, found on his phone as evidence of terrorism when Gül defended himself in court, saying that he used the app to communicate with his family. His intelligence analysis of ISIL was approved by Maj. Gen. Mehmet Göktan, the head of intelligence at the Land Forces Command, who was forced into retirement in 2018.
The intelligence on ISIL was confirmed a year later when the local police cracked down on ISIL networks in Adana province in the summer 2017. It was quite bizarre that the police took its time in going after ISIL cells despite the credible intelligence passed on by the military a year earlier. The first case was exposed in June 2017 when police raided ISIL safe houses in Adana, arresting more than a dozen people on terrorism charges. The indictment revealed that Turkish national Fevzi Taşkıran, a suspect in the case, was planning to attack the base with suicide bombers using dump trucks and other vehicles. He had been operating relatively easily until his detention. On January 9, 2019 the Adana 12th High Criminal Court convicted him of terrorism and sentenced him to nine years in prison.
In August 2017 a Russian national named Renat Bakiev was arrested in Adana while he was preparing to attack a US aircraft at İncirlik Air Base with a drone or a suicide bombing on US service members there. Bakiev, who was facing an outstanding arrest warrant in Russia and was listed on the Interpol database, was detained in Turkey as he crossed into the Turkish border province of Kilis from Syria but was let go by Turkish authorities. The Kilis High Criminal Court had already convicted him and sentenced him to six years, three months; yet, he was roaming free in Turkey, scouting the base. Interestingly enough, when Bakiev checked into a hotel, he was visited by police officers and briefly questioned according to the hotel owner’s testimony. Yet, the police let him go and did not detain him in his hotel room.
Bakiev was sentenced to 12 years by the Adana 11th High Criminal Court. Although Russia requested his extradition, the Turkish prosecutor demanded the rejection of the request, and the court ruled that he would not be extradited to Russia to face criminal charges there.
Among other ISIL plots that military intelligence became aware of according to the classified 2016 document was a suicide attack on Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and a sensational attack on tourists, journalists, military and intelligence officers. The note also warned that some senior ISIL leaders had left Iraq and were searching for ways to relocate to Turkey.
Based on the intelligence gathered, the military also made an assessment that more arms and explosives could be moved to Turkey in the future and that public transportation vehicles and tourist attractions could be targeted by terrorists.
The full intelligence document drafted by the Turkish military is posted below: