One-time al-Qaeda financier passed intelligence on Syria to Erdoğan’s office

Turkomans of Syria protesting Syrian Embassy in Ankara in December 2011.

Abdullah Bozkurt

 

Yasin al-Qadi, an Egyptian-born Saudi national who was at one time flagged by the US Treasury and the UN al-Qaeda sanction committee, was passing intelligence in the summer of 2013 to the Islamist government in Turkey, briefing the Turkish president and intelligence chief on developments in Syria.

According to secret wiretaps obtained by Nordic Monitor, al-Qadi’s operative in Turkey, identified as Osama Qotb, called Turkish Presdient Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief of staff, Hasan Doğan, to convey intelligence on the latest developments in Syria. Qotb, the nephew of Egyptian cleric Sayyid Qutb, one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, said his boss wanted the information urgently passed to Erdoğan and intelligence agency head Hakan Fidan.

 

Surveillance photo of Osama Qotb and Yasin al-Qadi in Turkey (from a secret investigation file).

 

“If there is no urgent intervention, Homs in the neighbor [Syria] will fall within a week,” Qotb told Doğan in what he said was a verbatim repeat of the message sent by his boss al-Qadi. The second message, he added, was that a new state would be formed along the border area when that happens. From the wording, it is not clear what the “new state” al-Qadi was referring to actually means.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an offshoot of al-Qaeda, had been gaining influence in the rebel-held parts of northern Syria for some months before this conversation took place. ISIS appeared to have taken over the Nusra Front, also known as al-Qaeda in Syria, and expanded its mission beyond the Syrian revolt.

 

Secret wiretap transcript:

Qadi_Dogan_Qotb_Erdogan_Syria

 

On the day this phone conversation took place, one of the Syrian opposition groups, the Syrian National Coalition, which is led from Turkey, also elected Ahmad Jarba, a Syrian with Saudi connections, as the new leader, favoring him over Mustafa Sabbagh, a Qatari favorite, at a meeting held in Istanbul. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood retained its influence in the group, with Farouq Tayfour selected as vice president.

The conversation suggests al-Qadi had earlier briefed Erdoğan and Fidan about the contingency of the opposition establishing a new Syrian state close to the Turkish border. “You can pass this information to the Gentleman [Beyefendi in Turkish, referring to Erdoğan] and the Undersecretary [Hakan Fidan] on behalf of brother Yasin [al-Qadi]”, Qotb informed Doğan.

The secret communication suggests al-Qadi was intimately involved in developments in Syria and had been working with Erdoğan and Turkish intelligence to impact events in the neighboring Arab country. The phone conversation took place on June 9, 2013 at 23:46 hours. At the time, Homs, the epicenter of the armed insurgency, and surrounding areas were under attack by Syrian government forces and its allied Hezbollah militia.

 

Hakan Fidan

 

Qotb had been representing al-Qadi’s business and personal interests in Turkey and working closely with Erdoğan’s son Bilal. In the rest of the conversation, Qotb also asked Doğan’s help in extending his parents’ residence permits, due to expire on June 15, 2013. He asked Erdoğan’s chief of staff to take care of the permit renewal and call the Istanbul police department, which processes residence permits for foreigners. Doğan promised he would take care of it in the morning.

The wiretap was authorized by the Istanbul 2nd High Criminal Court, which was looking into terror-related cases. The authorization was granted on May 20, 2013 as part of investigation file No. 2012/656.

Al-Qadi, Doğan and Erdoğan’s son Bilal were all leading suspects in an organized crime investigation pursued by prosecutors in Istanbul and were the subjects of detention warrants issued on December 25, 2013 by the prosecutors. However, Erdoğan stepped in, illegally preventing the execution of the warrants by ordering the police to not follow the prosecutor’s orders. After the removal of the prosecutors and police chiefs who were involved in the investigation, Erdoğan managed to whitewash the crimes of his associates.

 

Hasan Doğan

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