Secret wiretap reveals Turkish health minister facilitated medical treatment for family members of one-time al-Qaeda financier

Nordic Monitor

 

Fahrettin Koca, Turkey’s health minister and the owner of the Medipol group of private hospitals, in 2013 coordinated medical treatment for 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, and his family members in Turkey, secret wiretaps have revealed.

According to documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief of cabinet, Hasan Doğan, received an emergency call from Osama Qotb, the nephew of Egyptian cleric Sayyid Qutb, a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, on May 22, 2013 at 20:42 hours. Qotb, acting on behalf of al-Qadi, asked Erdoğan’s chief aide to make arrangements for the hospital treatment of al-Qadi’s uncle, Mohammed Omar Zubair.

Al-Qadi was alleged to have financed Osama bin Laden, Hamas and other terrorist groups by funneling funds through “charities” and business fronts, according to a Forbes article in January 2008.

Qotb said on the phone that al-Qadi would like to bring his uncle, Mohammed Omar Zubair, and another relative to Turkey for treatment at Medipol hospitals and sought Doğan’s assistance to facilitate official procedures in Turkey. Qotb also requested help for the treatment of his mother and aunt in the same hospital.

Doğan stated that he would call the head of the Medipol health group, Fahrettin Koca, to facilitate the hospitalization of those people and asked Qotb to provide details for Mohammed Omar Zubair and the other foreign nationals.

 

Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca

 

The wiretaps reveal how the Medipol private hospital chain was used by aides for President Erdoğan’s private business.

Koca, who served as a doctor to the Erdoğan family as well as owning the Medipol health group, was appointed health minister by President Erdoğan in 2018, after which Koca issued a health ministry circular, in August 2019, upgrading the quality level of Medipol hospitals.

Furthermore, parts of the Ankara train station that were used as a museum and guesthouse were given to Medipol University, founded by Health Minister Koca, last year.

Mohammed Omar Zubair, al-Qadi’s uncle, is also co-founder of the Caravan and Ella Production companies, registered in Turkey, along with al-Qadi, Mehmet Fatih Saraç and Cüneyd Zapsu.

Saraç was an executive at the Habertürk daily and Habertürk TV, owned by Turkey’s pro-government Ciner Media Group, at the time, and acted as a go-between, passing messages between his boss Turgay Ciner and Erdoğan and other government officials. Saraç made headlines in Turkey in February 2014 when a phone call between him and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan was leaked on the Internet, revealing that Erdoğan had instructed Saraç to censor the broadcasts of opposition leaders.

Zapsu, a close ally and confidant of Erdoğan, was among the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Al-Qadi’s businesses in Turkey were reportedly handed over to Zapsu and his brother.

 

Transcript of the court-authorized wiretap:

 

hasan_dogan_usame_Qotb_citizenship2

 

Al-Qadi was on the UN and US lists and was barred by law from entering Turkey or investing in any business pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1989 concerning al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities when some of the secret meetings were held between Erdoğan, the then-prime minister, and al-Qadi, with the chief of cabinet arranging the meetings between the two. Al-Qadi secretly entered Turkey multiple times and also met with Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkish intelligence agency MIT.

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.

Moreover, Erdoğan made repeatedly supportive remarks about al-Qadi and defended his advisors and party members’ relationship with the Saudi businessman, saying: “I know al-Qadi and I believe in him as much as I believe in myself. He is a benevolent lover of Turkey and has investments here. It is impossible that he is connected to terrorism.”

Al-Qadi was later removed from the UN list, followed by the US Treasury delisting his name.

The secret wiretap transcript of a call between Qotb and Hasan Doğan was recorded on May 22, 2013 at 20:42 hours. The authorization was granted by the Istanbul 2nd High Criminal Court on May 20, 2013 as part of investigation case file no. 2013/3427.

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