Turkish nationalist plotters ‘planned to kill Prime Minister’

From The Times (London)

August 6, 2009

Turkish nationalist plotters ‘planned to kill Prime Minister’

Suna Erdem in Istanbul

Members of a nationalist plot to overthrow the Turkish Government
planned to attack the Nato headquarters in Turkey and assassinate 12
prominent figures, including the Prime Minister, a court heard today.

Fifty-two additional suspects, including a former senior policeman,
were charged with involvement in the alleged campaign of chaos and
violence that was to culminate in a military coup. A court accepted
the third, 1,454-page indictment in the Ergenekon trial, charging the
ultranationalist, ultra-secularist group.

Two four-star generals and senior figures from the security forces,
business, politics, academia and the media are among the defendants as
Turkey confronts for the first time what has long been known as the
Deep State. The network is considered to be the true, military-backed
power behind the throne in this mainly Muslim democracy.

Ergenekon, named after a mythical valley where ancient Turks once
lived, is considered the latest incarnation of an organisation that
has allegedly existed for decades under different guises. It was given
a new impetus and its new title after the rise of Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, the Prime Minister, whose party was first elected in 2002.
His background as a political Islamist has helped the group to sway
public opinion, but it is his reformist, pro-European Union actions
and policies that are most offensive to this isolationist and
anti-Western group’s hard core.

It emerged this week that the former Chief of General Staff, Hilmi
Ozkok, had discovered the identity of the prime suspect five years

General Ozkok told prosecutors that he had confronted Sener Eruygur,
the former head of the Gendarmerie who is accused of masterminding a
series of coup plots, in 2004, when he found out about his plans. But
General Ozkok, who admits unearthing two of Mr Eruygur’s four plans,
said that he had not found enough evidence to take the plotters to

A key suspect in the third indictment is Ibrahim Sahin, former deputy
head of the special operations unit of the Turkish police, who is
accused of organising the violent operations planned by Ergenekon. The
group is accused of murdering a senior judge and dressing it up to
look like an Islamist crime, and bombing the offices of the staunchly
secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper – whose editor-in-chief is a suspect –
under a similar guise.

A plan found in his home is said to have led to the discovery of a
cache of arms that had previously been delivered to the Turkish Air

Mr Sahin is quoted in the indictment as telling a serving military
officer: `We are responsible for cleaning up inside Turkey. We are
forming a very special team, that is, in terms of authority, we are
above everybody. We do not take orders from anyone.’

Along with Mr Sahin, a former head of the National Security Council, a
powerful body that includes Turkey’s most senior politicians and
generals, – a former chief of the Higher Education Board, a university
rector and a senior union leader were among the latest to be charged.

The Ergenekon assassination list also includes the Nobel laureate
Orhan Pamuk, the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey and the Kurdish
political leader Ahmet Turk.