Turkish intelligence coordinated the scramble of F-16 fighters during coup attempt
Turkish intelligence agency MIT worked with a lieutenant colonel in the air force to direct warplanes to buzz the capital city of Ankara in 2016 in order to bolster the perception that a false flag was a real coup attempt by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
According to statements delivered in court by several senior military officers, MIT agent Korkut Gül coordinated the activity in the tower at Akıncı Air Base manned by Lt. Col. Nihat Altıntop, airfield operations commander.
Maj. Adnan Arıkan testified at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court on January 14, 2019 that “on the night of July 15, Lieutenant Colonel Nihat Altıntop, who was the commander of airfield operations at Akıncı Air Base and was in the flight tower, said that starting from 22:30 hours onwards, he had been speaking to MIT agent Korkut Gül and sharing information with him.”
He added that at the time even the authorities did not have a full grasp of the events unfolding during the night. “You can see how it was a distortion to describe the events of July 15 as a coup attempt when it was an operation to deceive the Turkish nation,” Arıkan said.
Arıkan also revealed that a team of MIT agents had visited Akıncı Air Base in May 2016, two months before the coup attempt, describing the visit as unprecedented and aimed at scouting the base for the false flag event. The base command initially rejected MIT’s request to visit the base, explaining that the base was busy with some 100 pilots who were in training at the time. The MIT agents could have paid a visit to other air bases that were less busy in Ankara or other cities, but MIT’S insistence on visiting Akıncı was found quite strange, Arıkan said.
In the end Air Force Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal, a close confidant of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he met secretly outside the chain of command several times, allowed the visit, overruling the base command, and MIT sent a team of 70 agents to look around and scout the base. “What benefits did such a large delegation get from this trip? What were the duties of the people in this delegation and what were their activities on July 15, 2016? “ Arıkan asked.
“The MIT delegation toured almost every place on the base including the flight tower and locations where the 141st, 142nd and 143rd squadrons were deployed, maintenance hangars and ammunition depots. From a military point of view, this was really a reconnaissance. Those who understand a little bit about intelligence, those who know a little bit about the principles of unconventional warfare understand the purpose of this activity very well,” Arıkan explained.
Another testimony revealing MIT’s plot to frame the July 15 events as a coup bid came from Staff Col. Bilal Akyüz of the Land Forces Command, who told the court how a MIT agent asked Altıntop to delete the record from his phone after the two had talked.
“Your Honor, [Altıntop] said a friend of his at MIT, Korkut Gül, asked him to delete his number and to never mention his [the MIT agent’s] name. However when pressed [during his deposition] he had to name him because he could not explain it otherwise,” Akyüz testified at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court on April 19, 2019. He questioned why Altıntop did not call his commanding officer at the Joint Operations Command in Eskisehir.
The most damning testimony on MIT’s complicity in the coup was delivered in court on September 6, 2017 by Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş.
“Acting on the instructions he received from Korkut Gül [the MIT agent], Altıntop instructed his team to let everything run its course and told his staff, ‘Don’t worry, I’ m your witness, you’ll be fine, just let everything proceed’,” Karakuş, who was with him in the tower, told the court. “As always, he was the man in charge in the tower, controlled the approach [of aircraft] that night, instructing the planes to land and take off, and to continue on their flight missions,” he added.
Altıntop, an air traffic officer, was in charge of the Akıncı airfield, alleged to be the the center of the failed putsch on July 15, 2016 and ran the operations of fighter jets from the base tower with his team. He was responsible for all the planes and helicopters that took off from and landed at the base, Karakuş said. Yet he was never charged or indicted over the July 15 events but was listed as a witness whose testimony helped the government purge and imprison dozens of officers.
In his own testimony Altıntop admitted he had contacted the MIT agent at 22:30 hours on the night of July 15, bypassing the chain of command and deciding to not inform his commanding officers about the activity at the base. He said he updated the MIT agent on the developments at the base, suggesting that the two had talked earlier. The second call was made at 23:10, before Karakuş’s arrival at the tower.
“There was no effort [by Altıntop] to prevent [the planes from taking off] during the night,” Karakuş recalled, adding that the colonel deliberately escalated the events at the base and ordered his team to follow his lead.
The government dumped everything on Karakuş, making him a fall guy.
Karakuş thought he had been preparing pilots for a counterterrorism operation on July 15 as he had done many times in the past and had no idea that Turkish intelligence was planning a false flag coup to create a pretext for a mass purge of the Turkish military. The then-head of the military, Hulusi Akar, and several key officers in the army plotted to orchestrate a limited military mobilization to create a perception that a real coup attempt was under way on July 15.
At around 23:00 hours he was ordered by his commander to go to the airfield tower as flight control officer (Uçuş Kontrol Amiri, UKA) which means he was to check the weather, make sure emergency procedures were in place and advise on traffic safety procedures. He had no responsibility for the landing and takeoff of aircraft or for their route while in the air.
“[They say] Hakan Karakuş directed planes from the tower, controlled them and so on. All these allegations are lies. It is easy for them to pin this on me because my name was mentioned a lot in the media. This is the function of the tower, not the duty of the UKA officer,” Karakuş said.
The F-16s that took off first from the base returned in short order, surprising Karakuş, who said a counterterrorism air operation usually takes around four hours with refueling by tanker planes mid-air. He thought either the mission had been cancelled or that there were no tanker planes in the air. Around that time, Turkish TV started broadcasting footage from a bridge in Istanbul where a group of solders cut off one-way traffic and news reports that planes were flying over Ankara. Karakuş recalled that tension and stress were on the rise in the tower, with one noncommissioned officer protesting and wanting to quit. “I was surprised when Altıntop started shouting and ordering everybody to focus on their jobs and continue as if nothing had happened,” he said.
In court Karakuş also revealed the content of the conversation he had with Altıntop on the balcony of the tower. “I was shocked to hear him say that he was expecting these events, coordinating with a MIT agent whom he referred to as his friend, acting on his [the MIT agent’s] orders,” Karakuş recalled. Altıntop also said during the conversation that there would be an operation at the base in the morning, that many would be killed or punished and that the end of the road for some was near. He threatened Karakuş with consequences if he did not work with him.
In response to allegations that he had been working with MIT, Altıntop claimed in court on September 26, 2018 that he and the MIT agent had known each other through their wives for 15 years. He tried to explain why he had immediately called his friend at MIT as opposed to his superiors in the chain of command. He also tried to justify it by claiming that his behavior was a similar to a citizen placing a call to the emergency 155 line. The defense also asked Altıntop why he did not call the prosecutor’s office, police or gendarmerie as opposed to MIT. Altıntop replied that he did not think about calling them.
Asked why he did not use his key to turn off the runway lights to prevent takeoffs, Altıntop claimed that turning off the lights would not have had an impact on flights. The cross-examination revealed that Altıntop was actually ordered to go home at 20:20 but disobeyed his commanding officer and went to the base. Asked by Karakuş why he defied a direct order, Altıntop claimed the order was not a ban to entry to the base.
Altıntop also admitted that he used two mobile phones that night including one that he bought only two days before the coup attempt. Screenshots of the call history from one of his cell phones submitted to the prosecutor’s office during his deposition showed that Altıntop first called the MIT agent at 20:20 hours. However, in his statement to the prosecutor and testimony in court, he claimed that he first called the agent at 22:30. Asked about the discrepancy and whether he entered the base upon orders from MIT, Altıntop denied the 20:20 call and said MIT did not order him to go to the base.
Much incriminating evidence emerged during the coup trials that showed how the Turkish intelligence agency was involved in orchestrating the July 15 events as a false flag under orders from President Erdoğan in order for the Islamist government to launch a massive purge of the Turkish military. Nether the intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, who denied any prior knowledge of the coup attempt, nor defense chief Akar appeared in court for cross-examination despite repeated motions by the defense to have them summoned to attend the hearings.
Nearly two-thirds of all generals and admirals and almost all staff officers were purged and/or jailed on dubious charges with no evidence to support the allegations, and the vacancies were filled by Islamists, nationalists and neo-nationalists.
By: Abdullah Bozkurt
Source: Nordic Monitor