Turks planned attack against Kurds in Belgium: ‘We are sending a team in’

Turks planned attack against Kurds in Belgium: ‘We are sending a team in’
Turks planned attack against Kurds in Belgium: ‘We are sending a team in’
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Haci A: “You cause a massacre and can free me from the hands of the police.”

Zekeriya C.: “We may send a team in.”

Haci A. had defected shortly before, allowing investigators to closely listen in on how some Turks in our country were planning an attack against two PKK leaders.

They started looking for GPS trackers to mount under the targets’ cars and looked for a van and a motorcycle. It is a well-known modus operandi: firing from a motorcycle and then putting it in a van to make detection more difficult.

The two targets, Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, have been a thorn in Turkey’s side for much longer. They held high positions within the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), an organization of the PKK that strives for an independent Kurdistan. Surveillance camera images show that in June 2017 the perpetrators explored the KNK offices in Sint-Gillis, where Kartal and Aydar were often present.

The Kurdish targets have been living in Belgium for decades, but are on the Turkish ‘terrorist wanted list’. The red one is the toughest of five lists. Turkey is offering up to 10 million lira, or 290,000 euros, for tips about Kartal and Aydar.

The murder plot against them dates back to 2017, but the suspects were acquitted in the first instance. Only last month, the Brussels Court of Appeal sentenced Yakup K. and Zekeriya C. in absentia to five years in prison.

“The court considers a very strict punishment necessary to protect society against the actions of both defendants, who were prepared to pursue the civil parties to the country where asylum was obtained, with the plan to kill them there,” said is stated in the judgment. “The facts testify to a very dangerous attitude on the part of the defendants

(Zekeriya) C. and (Yakup) K.”

Tensions

The case shows the extreme violence to which tensions between PKK members and Turkish nationalists in our country can lead. Last week there were riots in various places in our country. It started in Heusden-Zolder, where a family was attacked who had just returned from a Newroz celebration, so to speak Kurdish New Year, with flags of the PKK and founder Abdullah Öcalan.

According to the Kurdish organization Nav-Bel, they were attacked by Gray Wolves, Turkish far-right ultranationalists, who attacked the house. Things remained restless for a whole week: riots also broke out in Brussels and Ghent. A Kurdish bakery and a café, among others, were destroyed.

Two Turkish young people from Ghent were punched by demonstrators by Kurds during a school outing in Brussels. One of the two received a visit in the hospital from the Turkish ambassador to our country and even a phone call from Turkish President Erdogan.

Turkey actively distributed a video of that telephone conversation on its own social media, making it a political statement. According to some opposition members in Parliament, this was a form of interference.

“I think it is clear that the perpetrators were sent directly from the presidential palace in Ankara.”

Jan FermonLawyer for the victims

In the murder plot of Kartal and Aydar, some arrows also seem to point to the Turkish government. “I think it is clear that the perpetrators were sent directly from the presidential palace in Ankara,” says Jan Fermon, the lawyer of the two victims who previously also acted in important cases against the PKK in our country.

His clients, Kartal and Aydar, were chairman and vice-chairman of the Kurdistan National Congress in 2010, when they were captured in a major anti-terrorist operation in Belgium. Ultimately, the court cleared them and all other suspects of suspicion. The court’s conclusion, which even the Court of Cassation has considered, is that there could be no question of terrorism because the Turkish-Kurdish conflict must be regarded as an armed conflict.

The Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, which has been on the European terror list for more than twenty years, has not been a terrorist group since 2020, according to the Belgian court. PKK members can therefore find safe shelter in our country.

Mistake

Although things could have turned out worse for Kartal and Aydar if the principals had not been so careless before the attack. They thought they would call on Haci A., a Kurdish worker in a construction company between Ghent and Eeklo, to carry out their attack.

The Turkish manager of that construction company asked Haci A. about his attitude towards the PKK, his willingness to gather information about PKK officials in Belgium, and ultimately whether he was prepared to carry out an attack against those responsible.

It turned out to be a major miscalculation. Haci A. informed Kartal and Aydar, who went to the police. This allowed investigators to closely monitor the preparations for the attack.

In his interrogation, the manager of that construction company says incriminating things about one of the clients, Yakup K., his own brother-in-law, who lives in France.

“At one point he informed me that he would work for the Turkish state and look for PKK members,” the Turkish construction entrepreneur told investigators.

Turkish ‘Wagner Group’

Yakup K. is a former Turkish police officer and security officer at the Turkish Embassy in Paris. In conversations with executor Haci A., he is presented as an employee of the Turkish intelligence service MIT.

The other convict, Zekeriya C., was the operational ‘runner’. He discussed with Haci A. the massacre and how they would stay out of the hands of the police.

He would be part of a group in France together with Yakup K. Telephone taps in France repeatedly show that they had to take care of a “Conseiller Principal du President” during a state visit by President Erdogan.

Photos prove that they were in the presidential palace in Ankara and were in close contact with two (former) members of the Turkish National Security Council. One of them was Adnan Tanriverdi, retired general and leader of the military mercenary group Sadat, or ‘the Turkish Wagner group’.

The findings in Belgium, and the conviction, could give new impetus to a long-term investigation in France. In January 2013, three women with important roles within the PKK were shot dead in a Kurdish center in Paris.

Just before the trial on those facts was to start, the perpetrator of that attack died of an illness. Lawyer Jan Fermon is convinced that the clients can still stand trial. The Turkish embassy in Brussels did not respond to questions from The morning.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Turks planned attack Kurds Belgium sending team

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