On Friday Turkish police detained nearly 200 suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in simultaneous raids in 23 provinces across the country. An investigation has revealed that Uğur K. and İsmail G., two of those detained, had in the past several phone conversations with a number of Ergenekon suspects, including Maj. Fikret Emek.
Ergenekon is known to have close links to a number of outlawed groups, including the Turkish branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The close ties between Hizb ut-Tahrir and Ergenekon were exposed in the second Ergenekon indictment. Dozens of Ergenekon suspects are currently standing trial, including retired and active military personnel, businessmen and journalists.
According to the Ergenekon indictment, Ergenekon leaders used terrorist organizations in Turkey from all backgrounds, worldviews and political ideologies for their ultimate aim to create chaos in the country, which they hoped would make it easier to realize their ultimate goal of triggering a military intervention.
The evidence suggests that the group had links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the extreme-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), the fundamentalist organization Hizbullah, the ultranationalist Turkish Revenge Brigade (TİT), the Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army (TİKKO), the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Friday's detentions also revealed that the fundamentalist group was planning to hold an international conference on the Islamic caliphate on June 26. A number of documents confiscated during police raids also indicated the preparations for such a conference.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an extremist group seeking to reinstate the Islamic caliphate.
A past raid at the house of Kemal Aydın and Neriman Aydın, two Ergenekon suspects, had revealed the terrorist organization's close ties with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both suspects are accused of being in charge of Ergenekon's command centers or Karargah houses, where military cadets allegedly teach the ideology of Ergenekon to other cadets.
Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, an Islamic scholar. Since then the organization has spread to more than 40 countries and by one estimate has around 1 million members. The group has been undergoing restructuring for some time, which compelled police to closely monitor its suspected members. The Turkish branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir is mainly based in İstanbul's Bahçelievler district.
Police said the group was planning to stage a large attack in İstanbul on the anniversary of the abolishment of the caliphate. The Ottoman caliphate was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, on March 3, 1924, following the founding of a secular state.
Hizb ut-Tahrir received orders from Israel
İstanbul police also said the leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir's Turkish branch, Cemalettin B., started to lead his group from Israel, where he settled after being released from prison in Turkey. Cemalettin B. was sending e-mails to his followers from his Israeli home and preparing his group for attacks in Turkey.
Turkish police are now focusing on the relations between the group's leader and Israel. Cemalettin B. has not been subjected to police follow-up or legal action in Israel since he settled there.
During Friday's raids police seized two handguns, a Kalashnikov, four rifles, more than 240 bullets, documents relating to the suspects to Hizb ut-Tahrir and around 550 T-shirts which bore the words “Single State Caliphate.”