An evaluation of Hanefi Avcı’s book by EMRE USLU

September 09, 2010, Thursday/ 16:41:00
Hanefi Avcı recently published a book titled “Haliç’te Yaşayan Simonlar” (Simons in the Golden Horn). The book has created much controversy, due to Avcı’s position.Before moving on to my assessment of the book, I should clarify my relationship with Avcı.

I don’t know him closely, but I like him very much. He was a police chief who became an idol for young police officers after statements he made during the Feb. 28 process. He was one of my references when I went to the US. He did not know, but many of my friends, the people I know and my teachers from the academy and I lobbied in his favor when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power. I wrote several articles about him. I knew the process of his appointment. Thanks to effective lobbying, he was appointed to the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM) even though he did not expect it. In my opinion, his assignment to the KOM was the first move toward normalization in the balance between civilians and the military.

Everyone is discussing Avcı’s book. We first need to provide some background information about this book. Journalist Nedim Şener’s book “Dink Cinayeti ve İstihbarat Yalanları” (Dink’s Murder and Intelligence Lies) should be considered a precursor to Avcı’s book. Everyone, even the most disinterested, in the Police Department know that it was Avcı and his supporters who provided the information for this book. Şener’s book was written not for uncovering what is unknown in the murder of Hrant Dink, but to serve the purposes of Avcı and Sabri Uzun, an ex-Police Department Intelligence Bureau director, as they used it to create conflicts inside the Intelligence Bureau. And Avcı’s book forms the second phase of this operation.

As you may remember, Uzun recently testified at the case where Nedim Şener was on trial in connection with his book, and accused Unit C, also know as the intelligence unit at the Police Department, of not providing him with information. At that time, Ali Fuat Yılmazer was in charge of Unit C. Today, Yılmazer is head of the İstanbul branch of the Intelligence Bureau It is not surprising that Avcı targets Yılmazer in his book as well. One of the important arguments in Avcı’s book is that what happened to the former head of the İstanbul branch of the Intelligence Bureau, Ahmet İlhan Güler, is connected to the “Gülen Community.” In short, the reader of the book needs to have a closer look at the contention between outgoing and incoming directors.

According to behind the scenes conversations at the Police Department, this book is the second in a series of books prepared by a specific group. After the first book, the head of the Intelligence Bureau was removed from office. The second book aims to conduct a collective purge in intelligence units, particularly including some specific directors. Rumors have it that Uzun is writing a book. He has reportedly been working on it for six or seven months. But it is still uncertain when it will be published. It is very likely that its publishing will depend on the impact Avcı’s book has.

Ever since the book was first published, each day a new piece of circumstantial evidence emerges to support my argument that it was written for the purposes of an “operation.”

The main purpose of the book is to create the perception that the litigation of police chiefs Mustafa Gülcü, Celal Uzunkaya, Emin Arslan, Faruk Ünsal and Orhan Özdemir, who partnered with Avcı and who are standing trial on charges of running an illegal network, is sponsored by the “Gülen Community.” In doing so, the book strategically targets the police units that provide evidence for this trial and the prosecutors who are in charge of the related investigations in order to create suspicions about them. Here, the most critical position is undoubtedly the İstanbul Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau because of these trials; the most critical one for Avcı was launched in İstanbul against Arslan.

Moreover, as we understand from Avcı’s book, there is an ongoing investigation into him under Article 250 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). This investigation is about organized crime and drugs. If the organized crime and drugs investigation conducted by the İstanbul police is also about Avcı, and if they evidence Avcı’s involvement with photos, phone records and other methods, then this will mean the end of Avcı and all those people who he vouches for.

For instance, Aslan’s ties with Habib Kanat, an alleged drug trafficker, and Avcı’s ties with Arslan have further complicated things. Kanat’s fellow townsmen do not suspect him of being a drug trafficker. Kanat alone even sponsored the construction of the Kilisli Mustafa Kanat Mosque in İstanbul’s Ataşehir neighborhood to carry on the name of his father, and it is claimed that he used this construction project to cover up his illegal business.

Despite this background, Arslan’s son partnered in business with Kanat, which casts suspicion on Arslan’s “clean” name. It also weakens Avcı’s arguments. If a similar situation applies to Avcı, this will surely put him in a very controversial position. I don’t think Avcı, as I know him, would condone such a relationship. But I have also learned that I should not vouch for anyone unconditionally. In this regard, the ongoing investigation in İstanbul should be completed as soon as possible because it will certainly illuminate the background of Avcı’s book.

The impression one gets from the book is that Avcı believes he can change the direction of these investigations if he, along with journalists supporting him, targets the İstanbul Intelligence Bureau and ensures that Yılmazer, who, he assumes, has conspired against him and his friend Aslan, is marred. In other words, the first target of the operation is Yılmazer. Journalist Şener, known for his close ties to Avcı and the Ergenekon network, recently threw the first stone at Yılmazer, attacking him by referring to Avcı’s book. So we can expect this process to continue with new moves.

By making critical assessments of Ergenekon, Avcı has also managed to secure the support of Ergenekon fans. This support should not be underestimated.

Avcı’s contradictions

1) Despite the ostensible “strategic thinking” in Avcı’s book, there are elements that weaken Avcı’s hand. Most critical of these are contradictions in the book. These contradictions contain such grave errors that readers are urged to conclude that “this section must not have been written by Avcı.” For instance, on page 534, Avcı tries to defend Veli Küçük, a top Ergenekon defendant, and fallaciously argues that no alliance was formed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).

The following passage is from Avcı: “As claimed by the Ergenekon prosecutor, during an interview made with him while in custody in 2001, Tuncay Güney [an Ergenekon suspect and journalist], said Veli Küçük, who was working in Giresun when the PKK and the DHKP/C made an alliance, sent a message to Meral Kıdır [a woman who allegedly managed the relationships in Ergenekon], who was in jail then, saying, ‘Tell Dursun [Karataş, the leader of the DHKP/C] that they should break their alliance with the PKK in my region.’ … When and where did the PKK and DHKP/C form an alliance? They are two separate organizations, and despite the fact that state archives contain hundreds of written and verbal documents about how they perceive each other and that there are even documents in the archives about the instructions given by Karataş and terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to their militants, how is this claim substantiated? This claim can only be made by an ignorant person who does not know anything about ideological organizations. There is no such alliance… It is possible that they broke it in Giresun, but applied it elsewhere.”

However, even official PKK and DHKP/C publications contain pages of analyses as to why this alliance was made and why it was later broken. To Avcı, I suggest Tayfun İşçi’s (former Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions [KESK] secretary-general and columnist) article series titled “PKK’nın ittifak politikaları ve çatı partisi üzerine” (On the PKK’s alliance policies and the umbrella party) as a good read. These articles are easily accessible on the Internet and contain dozens of proofs showing how Avcı is utterly wrong about something that he ambitiously defends. Moreover, state archives also contain documents and assessments galore about this alliance. When I encounter such errors, I cannot help but think that either this section was not written by Avcı or he did not know what he wrote.

2) He argues that former İstanbul Intelligence Bureau Director Ahmet İlhan Güner “was removed from office because he did not acknowledge a link between the Council of State attack and Ergenekon.” However, when Güner was removed from office (Feb. 6, 2007), we did not know anything about something called Ergenekon. (The Ergenekon operation started in June 2007.)

3) As he talks more and more, he gives contradictory information. He told the Milliyet daily, “I kept it a secret from everyone that I would write this book, fearing the [Gülen] Community may intimidate me.” However, he later told NTV: “I told leading figures of the Community that I would write this book. I assumed my message had been conveyed to [Turkish intellectual] Fethullah Gülen.

4) In this book, Avcı says unregistered listening devices belonging to the Community were installed in the Intelligence Bureau and that any prosecutor can easily find them. Later, in an online interview, he says: “It is too late. They can no longer be found.” Suppose the Community has unregistered listening devices. Why should these devices be located in the Intelligence Bureau? Why should the Community bring them to the Intelligence Bureau? If they really had the technological means to wiretap, they could easily wiretap anyone in any place. He cannot give a logical answer to these questions.

5) Avcı says the wiretapping was done using IMEI numbers. (I do not include details on this technical issue, but the necessary information can be found on the Internet.) In other words, when requesting a court order for a wiretap, IMEI numbers instead of telephone numbers are provided to the judge. Avcı portrays this practice as illegal activity. As long as there is a court order for it, who can say that a wiretap is illegal?

6) More importantly, when the bill regulating wiretapping was being prepared, Avcı headed the KOM. It is known that the KOM and the Intelligence Bureau demanded that wiretapping via IMEI numbers be included in the bill. In other words, Avcı is the mastermind behind this system. And Avcı himself conducted wiretaps via IMEI numbers after obtaining court orders. He frequently employed this method. The question now is: Were these wiretaps conducted by Avcı illegal? Why is he criticizing this system now? How can one believe he is sincere if he starts to cry and wail when the system he invented starts to bother him?

7) Is the method of wiretapping via IMEI numbers used only by the police? For instance, didn’t the gendarmerie wiretap the phones of journalist Mehmet Baransu and his wife via their IMEI numbers? The General Staff wiretaps phones using IMEI numbers even if not authorized to do so. Despite the fact that the gendarmerie, the General Staff and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) conduct their wiretapping using IMEI numbers, Avcı turns a blind eye to them, but specifically targets the Intelligence Bureau and the KOM. Why?

8) The most significant document Avcı provides as evidence in his book is a memo he says was prepared by Osman Hilmi Özdil, known as an imam in the Community, to be sent to Gülen. In my opinion, the only serious part of the book is this seven-page note. However, what Avcı shared in an online interview has made this report doubtful as well. Avcı said the original of this report was registered with and is being kept by the police. How can the original of a document which was said to have been prepared to be sent to Gülen end up with the police?

9) In order for such a document to be registered with the Police Department, it should have been sent to the department annexed to a whistleblower’s letter or seized in an operation. As far as I know, there was no operation against the Community. Since its original is at the Police Department, this document has not been conveyed to Gülen. How can such a network, which is said to be completely dominating the Police Department, fail to convey a document they prepared to Gülen and prevent it from ending up in the hands of the Police Department? There is only one explanation: This report was prepared not to be sent to Gülen but to end up in the records of the Police Department. It was then conveyed to Avcı, who put it in his book. In other words, Avcı’s book was used as a medium to disseminate the report to the general public. And so Avcı became a side in internal political conflicts.

10) Is the document signed? Who is the author? Such documents cannot be reasonably expected to contain signatures. If it does not have a signature, how can we conclude that it is original?

11) One of the most fundamental contradictions in the book is about Avcı being removed from the KOM. Avcı claims that Çoşkun Hayal, who was appointed to his post after him, was made to appear to have won a lawsuit at the Administrative Court, noting this is how he was removed from his post. However, the Interior Ministry denies this, saying that Avcı was removed from his post upon a court order. Avcı has to explain this contradiction as well.

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