A former member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said it’s likely President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son-in-law and former finance minister Berat Albayrak were involved in the alleged arming of civilians during a 2016 coup attempt and afterward, Turkish media reported on Friday.
Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker on Thursday revealed that a large number of civilians were armed with unregistered guns during the 2016 coup attempt and afterward, under the coordination of then-minister of labor and current interior minister Süleyman Soylu.
He alleged that a box of unregistered AK-47s was taken from the Esenyurt district of İstanbul to the Balat neighborhood in the city’s Fatih district in an official car belonging to the then-AKP İstanbul youth branch chairman one night in the first week of August 2016, less than a month after the July 15 coup attempt, in which 249 people were killed.
Peker added that Abdülsebur Soğanlı, head of the AKP’s Esenyurt youth branch, interior ministry official Ahmet Onay, then-AKP İstanbul youth branch chairman Taha Ayhan and then-vice chair and current head of the AKP’s İstanbul youth branch Osman Tomakin were involved in the transportation of the weapons coordinated by Soylu back in 2016.
During a televised interview on TV5, then-AKP İstanbul provincial chair and current vice chair of the opposition Gelecek (Future) Party Selim Temurci said Erdoğan and Albayrak were more likely to be involved in the alleged arming of civilians during the attempted coup and afterward rather than Soylu.
“Who in the world can transport [unregistered] AK-47s in the car of the AKP İstanbul youth branch chairman of the time and then distribute them [to civilians] without the knowledge of the president?” Temurci said.
“If my youth branch chairman was involved in such a thing, then let me say this clearly: I think Berat Albayrak must have been much more involved in this than Soylu,” he added.
Meanwhile, Onay on Thursday confirmed in a series of tweets that he was present in the car with Ayhan and Soğanlı, like Peker claimed, but didn’t see any weapons being transported since he didn’t get out of the car because he was still recovering from the injuries he sustained during the coup attempt.
Opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) deputy chairman Mustafa Yeneroğlu on Friday asked in a parliamentary question posed to Soylu whether the claims that he coordinated the distribution of unregistered weapons to civilian groups in 2016 was true.
Soylu and his shadowy relations with the mafia have been a hot topic in the Turkish media ever since Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups and once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, has since early May been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.
Soylu has so far been Peker’s main target, primarily because he ordered a police raid on the gangster’s house in April when his wife and three children were home alone and because he called Peker “a dirty mafia leader” in a tweet.