Erdoğan tried to cover up accident involving one-time al-Qaeda financier in Turkey

The death toll for traffic accidents in Turkey is high for a variety of reasons, among them driving under the influence.

Abdullah Bozkurt

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then prime minister, attempted to cover up a traffic accident that involved a one-time al-Qaeda financier whom he had flown in from abroad to meet with and discuss Turkey’s policies on Syria and Egypt while pursuing corrupt business schemes with him in a blatant abuse of power.

Some of the visits of Yasin al-Qadi to Turkey took place when he was still listed as an al-Qaeda financier on the UN and US sanction lists. He was barred from entering to Turkey under Turkish laws; yet, Erdoğan helped him gain entry to Turkish territory secretly and illegally. He was meeting with Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son Bilal as well as Erdoğan’s business associates. One of al-Qadi’s secret trips was almost exposed when he was involved in a traffic accident in Istanbul.

The crash happened on February 16, 2013 at 02:10 hours when a car assigned by Erdoğan’s office to transport al-Qadi — a Saudi Arabian businessman who was on the US Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGT) list as well as the UN al-Qaida sanction list — was rammed from the side by another car. Qadi’s car, driven by 31-year-old İbrahim Yıldız, Erdoğan’s security officer, crashed into the guardrail. Al-Qadi and his nephew Osama Qotb, who handles his uncle’s affairs in Turkey, was also in the car.

Erdoğan, apparently concerned about the legal troubles and political fallout if al-Qadi’s presence in Turkey as his guest was exposed, ordered his trusted men to erase all traces of al-Qadi and Qotb from the paper trail in the accident report. According to a dozen reports filed by the local police, doctors and prosecutor’s office about the accident, none mentioned names of al-Qadi or Qotb, a violation of Turkish law.

 

Layout of the accident scene as drafted by the police who responded to the call:

Qadi_accident_map

 

According to a cache of documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Hüseyin Demirtürk, a 31-year-old valet, was driving a 2012 Opel sedan (license plate number 34 AU 9482) accompanied by his friend Semih Şenyüz (31) in the passenger seat when he rammed al-Qadi’s Ford Mondeo (license plate number 06 DP 1610) from the side on the D-100 highway near Istanbul’s Bakırköy district. Yıldız was injured in the accident and taken to the MedicalPark Hospital in Bahçelievler and from there was referred to the Medipol Hospital in Bağcılar.

 

Police surveillance photo of Yasin al-Qadi and Osama Qotb as they arrived in Turkey to meet with Erdoğan and his associates.

 

Since the accident involved bodily injury, a prosecutor’s office was involved in its investigation. Prosecutor Cihan Yıldız, who was on the night shift at the time, was informed about the accident, and he ordered the police to take a statement from driver Demirtürk and let him go. Yıldız also asked the police to remove the names of al Qadi and Qotb from any official document with regard to the accident. Şenyüz, the passenger in the Opel who was taken to Bezmi Alem Vakıf Gureba Hospital and later discharged, was recorded as a victim in the accident report, but al-Qadi and Qotb, passengers in the other car, were not mentioned at all. The accident report requires the listing of all the passengers who were in the vehicles at the time of the accident; yet, only Şenyüz’s name was mentioned.

The accident appears to be purely coincidental. Demirtürk said he was searching for music on his cell phone when he strayed out of his lane into another lane before hitting al-Qadi’s car and lost control. He said he and his friend were taking a night ride on the highway. His toxicology report was clean, and he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

Thirty-eight-page report that includes medical reports, statements and toxicology results:

Qadi_traffic_Car_accident

 

Although Erdoğan and his people including prosecutor Yıldız thought they had successfully erased all traces of al-Qadi and Qotb from the crash scene with the help of corrupt local police officers and fixed the reports, they did not know that the police’s organized crime unit, under orders from the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, had been monitoring the phones of both al-Qadi and Qotb as part of an investigation into bribery, abuse of power, document forgery, tender rigging and other criminal activity.

The wiretaps show that immediately after the crash, Qotb called Erdoğan to tell him that he and al-Qadi had been involved in a traffic accident while leaving the airport and that al-Qadi was slightly injured. He added that Yıldız was unconscious. In response, Erdoğan asked whether they were in Ankara or İstanbul. Qotb answered that they were in İstanbul, saying their car was near the city’s Bakırköy district and that they were waiting for an ambulance. Erdoğan said he would direct an ambulance there immediately. Later, Erdoğan told them to go to Memorial Hospital in Bağcılar, instructing Qotb to keep him updated.

In another voice recording, Erdoğan called businessman Mustafa Latif Topbaş, al-Qadi’s Turkish partner and a close associate of Erdoğan, and asked Topbaş whether Qotb and al-Qadi had called him or not. When Topbaş replied in the negative, Erdoğan informed him that al-Qadi had an accident while leaving the airport, adding: “Actually, his condition is not serious, but Usama called me. The condition of our bodyguard [his personal bodyguard] is probably a bit serious. They took them to MedicalPark in Bahçelievler. I guess the incident took place near Bakırköy. They are now at the hospital. According to what Muhsin [the prime minister’s chief security officer] said, his [Qadi’s] condition is not serious. I just called Bilal [Erdoğan, the son of the prime minister]. He will also go there [to the hospital]. I just wanted to inform you about the incident.”

In the third wiretap, Erdoğan asked Qotb about al-Qadi’s condition. In this conversation Qotb says Erdoğan’s son Bilal had called him, taken the address of the hospital and was on his way there. In the fourth wiretap, recorded on February 17, 2013 at 18:48 hours, Erdoğan called Qotb to ask about al-Qadi’s condition. Qotb said al-Qadi was much better and was out all day attending meetings. He wished him a speedy recovery and told Qotb to convey his greetings to al-Qadi.

 

Transcript of the wiretap that recorded the conversation between Erdoğan and Qotb :

Erdogan_qutb_accident_wiretap

 

In a December 28, 2013 interview with the Hürriyet daily, Qotb talked about the accident, denying allegations that he had called the prime minister after the accident and that Erdoğan had personally helped him. “After the accident, I didn’t call Erdoğan or anyone from his close circle, but I heard that Erdoğan was informed of the accident and that he was worried the accident could have been an assassination attempt on the lives of me and al-Qadi. In my opinion, this was no ordinary accident. This was the result of a conspiracy or an assassination attempt,” said Qotb. He also claimed the driver of the other car fled the scene, which was not true, according to the accident report.

In fact, according to a wiretap dated February 21, 2013, when he talked to the prime minister’s chief security officer, Muhsin Köse, to update him about the developments, Qotb raised a conspiracy theory and claimed this was not an ordinary accident and was instead a plot against him and al-Qadi. He falsely claimed that the driver was under the influence of drugs. Köse brushed aside the conspiracy, saying the police had investigated the other driver and passenger and looked into their backgrounds. Everything had come out clean. No drugs, no alcohol involved, Köse said. In another wiretap recorded on February 19, 2013 at 11:46 hours, al-Qadi was bragging about how the accident scene was staged like a movie script and that Ibrahim appeared to be the only person in the car. The two also discussed getting around in two cars in case a similar situation were to take place in the future.

The investigators obtained the WhatsApp messages of Qotb, who was asking his employee Abdulkerim Çay, also a suspect in the case, how to write a thank you note in Turkish to Erdoğan for his help in covering up the accident. Although Qotb can speak and understand Turkish, he thought a native speaker could better express what he wanted to say, so he dictated English sentences for him to translate. On February 16 at 20:59 hours he wrote: “I an sorry i called u 2,pm thanks for your help and care we all good alhamdollah Dont forget us from u doua.” Immediately after this Qotb had his message translated into Turkish and sent to Erdoğan. A few minutes later he received a call from the prime minister.

 

Document from the investigation file that shows the the transcript of WhatsApp messages of Osama Qotb.

 

Al-Qadi, an Egyptian-born Saudi national, had come Turkey several times when he was prohibited from entering the country according to a cabinet decision and before the United Nations had removed his name from its list of al-Qaeda supporters. He was meeting with Erdoğan and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan secretly to coordinate policies with regard to the Syrian opposition. He was also involved in an illegal business deal with Erdoğan’s son Bilal to transfer the valuable land of the Etiler Police Academy through a disguised stake in a front company called Bosphorus 360.

Al-Qadi, Qotb and 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 ignore the prosecutors’ 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.

 

Transcript of the wiretapped conversation between al-Qadi and Qotb in which they discussed the accident on February 19, 2013:

Yasin_al_qadi_traffic_fixed_report

 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter