Neo-nationalistic gang members are terrorists, prosecutors say

Neo-nationalistic gang members 
   are terrorists, prosecutors say

Recent evidence proves that the VKGB united with another nationalist organization, the Kuvayi Milliye (National Forces), in a ceremony led by Lt. Gen. Hasan Kundakçı. Kundakçı (Right) and Taner Ünal (Left), leader of VKGB, are shown in this undated file photo.

July 12, 2007, Thursday/ 19:45:00
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has decided to carry out the investigation regarding the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces (VKGB), a crime gang recently uncovered through the police counterterrorism operation dubbed “Whirl.”

The VKGB has apparent links to army officers and is being accused of 40 crimes, including attempts at agitating participants of political rallies protesting the government and provoking mourners at martyrs’ funerals, Star daily reported yesterday.

The organization is being accused of “trying to weaken the independence and stability of the state,” among many other crimes. The existence of an armed wing of the association was a major reason for the prosecution to consider the VKGB a terrorist organization.

Earlier prosecutors were investigating the files of a priest shot dead in Trabzon last year, the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January, a gunman’s attack against the State Council last year and a hand grenade attack against the Cumhuriyet daily’s office also in 2006, the brutal murder of three bible publishers in the province of Malatya earlier this year and an arms-depot discovered in a shanty house in İstanbul’s Ümraniye last month -- now all included in the category of terrorist crimes.

According to the report, police officers conducting the Operation Whirl are still trying to locate arms and explosives the gang is known to have stored in two of Turkey’s major cities, the report said.

The investigation also revealed that some of the organization’s cell members which have not yet been detained are preparing acts of provocation ahead of the elections on July 22. The prosecutors have found that a Black Sea villa belonging to the organization, dubbed a “chateau” by locals, is being used to train armed militants for the group. Evidence proving the group runs military and armed training camps in a forested area in Bolu has also found its way into the file.

Police say the VKGB was preparing for a bloody attack similar to the Maraş massacre of 1978 in which an ultra-nationalist used a bomb to attack the city’s Alevi population.

A curious gang

Links between the VKGB and retired high-ranking military officers has been under the spotlight since the first day of the investigation. Recent evidence proves that the VKGB united with another nationalist organization, the Kuvayi Milliye (National Forces), in a ceremony lead by Lt. Gen. Hasan Kundakçı, former commander of the Gendarmerie Regional Security Command.

The Kuvayi Milliye had made front page news after footage showing its chairman, retired Col. Fkir Karaadğ, leading an oath-to-kill-or-die ceremony was broadcast on the Internet. The pledge, taken with one hand on a rifle, is compulsory for new recruits.

The unification ceremony of the two groups was in March 2005 and organized at the VKGB’s office in Ankara. On behalf of Karadağ, his right-hand man Hüseyin Görüm participated, explaining the group’s activities, including frequent meetings with “top-level big shots” in Ankara. Retired Gen. Kundakçı also delivered a speech in this ceremony.

The investigation also revealed that Gen. Hurşit Tolon, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Rauf Denktaş, retired Maj. Gen. Cumhur Evcil, retired Lt. Gen. Suat İlhan and Vural Savaş sent flowers to the meeting.

A VKGB publication counts Professor Erol Manisalı, retired Maj. Gen. Erol Evcil, retired Col. Hüseyin Mümtaz, Honorary Chief Prosecutor of the High Court of Appeals Vural Savaş and Erol Bilbilik from the neo-nationalist Workers’ Party (İP) among its regular contributors.

Meanwhile recently emerged photographs show VKGB Chairman Taner Ünal, Deputy Chairman Vehbi Şanlı (who swindled a martyr’s widow out of YTL 60,000) and former Hakkari Ranger Brigade Commander retired Brig. Gen. Alattin Parmaksız together.

Retired Gen. Kundakçı is the honorary president of the VKGB.

MİT to investigate the case

A military prosecutor is also currently investigating the case because of the links revealed between the gang and retired officers. Phone conversations recorded during the course of the investigation which led to the members arrests also exposed contact made with certain members of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), a Today’s Zaman correspondent in Ankara reports.

VKGB fact sheet 

* Nineteen members of the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces (VKGB) were taken into custody after an extensive operation by the Anti-Organized Crime and Smuggling Department of the Ankara Police last week.

* The results of the investigation are likely to have heavy political consequences as the group, in addition to suggestions of involvement in organized crime, seems to have planned and staged a number of illegal acts during political demonstrations. Phone records of conversations, recorded during a 14-month police operation that led to Monday’s arrests, reveal links between the suspects and former and currently active members of the military.

* The gang’s ultimate purpose is to disturb peace and stability in the country and overthrow the government, the investigation has revealed so far. Most of the evidence is based on information gathered from phone conversations during police monitoring since the start of the “Whirl” operation over a year ago.

* The criminal network obtains its orders from an individual codenamed “Number One,” however police were not able to determine the identity of the mysterious master. Number One is known to be a retired army general. Speculation suggests this person could be retired Maj. Gen. Veli Küçük or retired Gen. Hasan Kundakçı.

* Phone records also prove that, for the suspects, “funerals of martyred soldiers are events that need to be participated in with enthusiasm.”

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