A Turkish whistleblower has revealed that the Turkish government is involved in a massive arms trade and huge sums of cash transfers disguised as humanitarian aid, feeding radical groups in Syria and benefitting from the trade financially.
Fuat Avni, a Twitter user with nearly 3 million followers, took on Twitter on Thursday to report how Turkish senior officials have been shipping huge cache of arms and big sums of money through air and sea from Libya to war-stricken countries such as Ukraine and Syria.
Avni has a credible record of uncovering corruption and irregularities rampant among the government officials. He claims to be in the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
He claimed in a series of tweets that Erdoğan is employing National Intelligence Organization’s (MİT) planes and helicopters for his arms trade and masking it with an humanitarian aid status.
“Erdoğan receives heavy sums of money over every transfer. He is using ships, private airlines and in big shipments, the Turkish Airlines. Depending on shipment’s worth and risks, a commission between 10 and 50 pct is added on Erdogan’s fortune,” Avni tweeted. It was not immediately possible to confirm his account.
According to the whistleblower, arms, gold, narcotics and most wanted international criminals in the Middle East have been transferred through Turkey.
Avni also argued that there have been some leaks about the alleged shipments of money and arms and that the president sacked senior officials over the intelligence leak.
“When a 19-ton arms shipment from Libya to Ukraine was unveiled last year, it was recorded as the cigarette trade. The second plane was carrying $40 billion from Libya to Iran. When unveiled, it was claimed it was carrying kiwi” he said, adding that Turkey does not have cigarette trade with Ukraine.
He noted that ambulance and humanitarian relief flights were made exempt from the official authorization to prevent further leaks. He added that Customs and Trade Ministry does not inspect goods shipped by MİT. “It is only approving them.”
Turkish government has long been under fire for providing arms and money to radical groups in Syria to fight against forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey denies the charges.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials who intercepted trucks carrying arms into Syria were jailed and accused of “treason.” Cumhuriyet’s top editors were also given five-year prison sentence each for publishing the footage of the arms shipment. This week, journalist Arzu Yıldız was given 20-month prison sentence and stripped of her legal rights over her two children for publishing the footage of the court defense of prosecutors who intercepted the trucks.
He claimed that the spy agency founded an association called White Hand Association and shipped ISIS-bound arms from Libya with an humanitarian aid label.
“Aircraft employed by the association used airports in Ankara, Gaziantep and Hatay for a long time. Erdoğan generously [received] payments for arms shipment from Libya. MİT and THY’s cargo planes brought two containers full of cash.” he added. THY is an abbreviation for the Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flagship airliner.
The whistleblower said former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Kırıkkale lawmaker Mustafa Özbayrak has been playing the most important role in the president’s arms and money shipment scheme. Describing Özbayrak as Erdoğan’s operative, Avni said the president is exploiting his British citizenship and close ties with Iran. He stated that Özbayrak organized the shipment of 16,000 weapons to Yemen when he was a consultant at the Üçyıldız Arms Industy. While Özbayrak is laundering cash from the Middle East, he is also providing weapons and equipment to ISIS, he said.