This would reveal alleged long-standing links between a Turkish investment agency and a person allegedly linked to the terrorist organisation concerning energy projects

Corruption investigation uncovers alleged past links between Turkey and alleged former Al-Qaeda financier

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS - The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ilker Ayci, former chairman of the Turkish Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) and current chairman of the board of directors of Turkish Airlines (THY), promoted private investments and ventures by a former alleged Al-Qaeda financier like Yasin al-Qadi, according to confidential documents that have just come to light as part of an investigation by a Turkish anti-corruption court in the country presided over by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Nordic Monitor. 

In wiretaps ordered by the Turkish justice system as part of the investigation into the corruption scheme, Ayci, along with former ISPAT department head Abdulkerim Çay, met with al-Qadi in Cengiz Aktürk's personal office, who was also a suspect and a trusted member of al-Qadi, according to information released by Nordic Monitor. 

The secret documents released by the non-profit organization specialising in the security field indicate how the Turkish Government favoured Al-Qadi's participation in tenders for the privatisation of power plants. "We should be ready by the end of the year, then you can start," Al-Qadi told Ayci, referring to the bidding for the energy infrastructure. In response, Ayci said: "All right, we will do our best". Ayci also asked Al-Qadi to complete the preparations for the project before it was presented to the then Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's then president and man of plenipotentiary. "Let us finish our work as soon as possible and visit (Erdogan) immediately," Ayci said.

Ayci rose through the ranks and after leaving ISPAT he became president of Turkish Airlines, one of the world's leading airlines, in 2015. He is also a man closely linked to the political sphere of 'Sultan' Erdogan as he participated in the creation of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) office, formed by the Turkish president, in Istanbul, Turkey's most important financial centre. He was also a consultant to Erdogan during the latter's term as mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998.
 

Ilker Ayci, presidente del Consejo y del Comité Ejecutivo de Turkish Airlines

With respect to Al-Qadi, it is known that he is a citizen of Saudi nationality, although born in Egypt, former minister of the Government of Saudi Arabia with links to the Kingdom's royal family and that he was singled out by the United States Department of the Treasury and the United Nations (UN) Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee for links regarding the financing of the jihadist group. Although it is necessary to stress that the name of the Saudi businessman was eliminated from the UN blacklist, and later from the list managed by the US Treasury. 

Specifically, the UN imposed sanctions against Al-Qadi in 1999 and 2000, when he was named by UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 as a suspected associate of the terrorist network led at the time by Osama bin Laden. On October 12, 2001, the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) ordered the freezing of his assets on US territory. The European Union (EU) also applied sanctions to Al-Qadi and the response of Al-Qadi's lawyers was to file two lawsuits that are considered by various sectors to be benchmarks in public international law, known as 'Al-Qadi I' (2008) and 'Al-Qadi II' by challenging the central legal framework of UN terrorism sanctions.

Al-Qadi's inclusion as a terrorist was overturned by several European courts, and his name was removed from the blacklists by Switzerland (2007), the EU (2008 and 2010), and the UK (2008 and 2010). In September 2010, the Saudi Arabian businessman succeeded in dismissing in their entirety the civil lawsuits filed against him in the United States on behalf of the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda. In October 2012, the UN Security Council Committee overseeing sanctions against al-Qaeda granted al-Qadi's own request to be removed from its blacklist.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted in 2006, in statements made to Turkish state television and picked up by Forbes, that he knew Al-Qadi and believed as much in him as in himself, and explained that it was "impossible" that the Saudi businessman was associated with a terrorist organisation. 

Following up on the case under investigation, in a secret meeting on August 18, 2013, Ayci informed al-Qadi of his scheduled meeting with then Energy Minister Taner Yildiz to discuss foreign investment in the energy sector. Ayci also reported that Erdogan had urged Yildiz not to interfere with foreign investments in energy sources and indicated that ISPAT had become the main authority for dealing with foreign investors.

According to another telephone conversation, Al-Qadi's right-hand man, Osama Qutb, who was allegedly engaged in money laundering in Turkey on behalf of the Saudi businessman, was in close contact with Aktürk. In the conversation, Aktürk and Qutb could be heard commenting on money-laundering plans through the companies of the former. Aktürk, who owns cosmetics companies, even told Qutb that it was not possible to launder so much money with perfume and that they had to find another method.

"You mean the money has to be laundered. You can't handle that much money with perfume, it's impossible... But here it will be fine. Perfume doesn't work as well. But here, at least you can show those figures as a clear income... You know, there is a certain degree to which you can give a written statement saying that you bought this house with this income," Aktürk told Qutb, according to the research revealed. 

Al-Qadi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son, Necmettin Bilal, were also the prime suspects in a corruption investigation by prosecutors in Istanbul and were the subject of arrest warrants issued on 25 December 2013 by the prosecutors themselves. However, Erdogan took action and allegedly illegally prevented the arrests from being carried out by ordering the police to ignore the prosecutor's orders. Following the dismissal of the prosecutors and police chiefs involved in the investigation, the former Prime Minister and current President of Turkey allegedly managed to cover up the crimes of those close to him. 
 

El hijo del presidente turco, Bilal Erdogan

Al-Qadi could not participate in the privatisation of Turkish power plants due to the arrest warrants; and instead of the Saudi businessman, Erdogan preferred to sell the power plants to companies close to him, including Bereket Enerji, the IC Consortium İctaş-Limak, the Ciner Group, Çelikler Holding and Konya Şeker.

The above-mentioned wiretapping was authorised by the 2nd Istanbul High Criminal Court, which had been examining terrorism-related cases. The authorisation was granted on 19 August 2013 as part of investigation file No. 2013/7296, as revealed by Nordic Monitor. 
 

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