Political murders and assassinations over the past six decades have been masterminded and orchestrated by a single central entity, according to the evidence of Bülent Orakoğlu, a former deputy chief of the National Police Department’s Intelligence Unit, who testified in the Ergenekon trial on Thursday.
Appearing before the court in the trial of suspected members of the alleged clandestine organization Ergenekon, who are accused of attempting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Orakoğlu claimed that for the past six decades a single entity has been using radical armed groups in Turkey -- including Ergenekon, the Turkish Hizbullah, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary Path (Dev-Yol) -- for its operations. “I believe that some murders were perpetrated by the same center. It can be seen that Ergenekon established Hizbullah, the PKK and Dev-Yol and used these groups [for its own ends]. There is a group inside the state that uses the deep [illegal] structure, and state authorities. … The PKK is being used as a subcontractor. The PKK, which ceased attacks when the AK Party came to power, resumed and increased attacks beginning in 2003.”
The former intelligence deputy chief gave testimony as a witness at the 187th session of the trial, making some striking claims to the court. Orakoğlu stated that the person killed in an armed clash with police in İstanbul during a raid of a property believed to shelter a Hizbullah cell in 2000 was not Hüseyin Velioğlu, leader of Hizbullah, as officially declared.
Responding to questioning from the prosecutor about plots allegedly devised by Ergenekon, Orakoğlu said he was aware of the Sledgehammer coup plot, noting that intelligence had indicated a plot to overthrow the government being hatched by a group of officers within the military. The Sledgehammer plot is said to have been formulated in 2003, and to have included various schemes to undermine the AK Party government, including crashing a Turkish jet and attributing blame to Greece in order to spark conflict. Suspects in the Sledgehammer case claim the so-called plot was only a hypothetical military exercise outlining worst-case scenarios, while the prosecution insists the plans were intended to be enacted.
Orakoğlu further shared information about the death of Necip Hablemitoğlu, an academic assassinated in front of his home in Ankara on Dec. 18, 2002. According to Orakoğlu, Hablemitoğlu was set to be appointed undersecretary to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which the assassination was intended to prevent. He further maintained that assassinations in Turkey, particularly those similar to that of Hablemitoğlu, always seemed to be somehow linked to Iran. “You can’t really expose Gladio-type networks in these murders,” he said, referring to the codename of a clandestine NATO organization set up to fight communism in Italy after World War II. Gladio employed any means necessary, including illegal practices, to fight the threat of communism. “Those who order these assassinations always deflect suspicion onto states that have some religious affiliation,” Orakoğlu said.