[VIDEO] Turkish PM: We did not ask US for evidence of Sept. 11

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (C) answers the questions of press members with Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek (R) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (L) ahead of their departure from New York to Turkey in New York, United States on November 10, 2017. Ali Balikci / Anadolu Agency

Amid reports that Turkey may have offered $15 million to a former adviser of US
President Donald Trump to illegally remove Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen to
Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım criticized Washington for not taking
steps on Gülen’s extradition, telling Fareed Zakaria on Sunday’s “GPS” that
Ankara did not ask the Americans for evidence of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror
attack.

“On July 15 we had a coup attempt, similar to 9/11 in the United States. When
President Bush announced that the US was under attack, Turkey was the first
country to offer to help and send the army to Afghanistan. We didn’t ask who was
behind this. The United States said this was al-Qaeda behind this attack, al-
Qaeda is responsible. Nobody asked the United States ‘Is there any evidence
that al-Qaeda did so’,” Yıldırım said, in a pivot from Zakaria’s assertion that the
evidence provided by Turkey for Gülen’s extradition was reportedly “not particularly strong,
not conclusive … very sparse.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday an alleged plan that involved former
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to forcibly remove Gülen in return for
millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15
million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal,
according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish
representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New
York City.

Zakaria asked Yıldırım if Turkey had expected the Trump administration to take
action on the extradition of Gülen in light of the fact that Flynn, the national
security advisor, had been working “with the Turkish government, for the Turkish
government” and advocating his extradition. Yıldırım said they expected it to
happen but added that as time went on, they saw that there were no signals that
extradition was “in place.” Yıldırım also denied that his government had dealt with
Flynn on the Gülen issue, saying it was a matter between the justice ministries of
the two countries.

When earlier asked by foreign reporters whether the US was involved in last
year’s July 15 coup attempt, Yıldırım said there was a ‘prevalent opinion’; among
the Turkish people that America was behind it, in particular because the US had
not taken any steps regarding the extradition of Gülen.

“We [the government] did not establish this opinion,” he stressed.

Then-Minister of Labor and Social Security Süleyman Soylu stated on July 19,
2016 that the US was behind the coup attempt.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor in April launched an investigation into 17
prominent US figures including Senator Chuck Schumer, former US Attorney for
the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and former CIA Director John
Brenan for alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Burhan Kuzu, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP)
Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) and an AKP İstanbul deputy, on

Aug. 20 called on prosecutors to investigate İncirlik Airbase, used by NATO, over
Turkey’s botched coup attempt last summer.

Gülen is accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed
coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Gülen and the movement he inspired have
denied any involvement in the putsch.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish
government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in
March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the
failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and
the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July
15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said
Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen
was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence, said he had not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s
involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen)
revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents
due to fears of an impending purge.

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