As a favor to a Saudi national who was listed as an al-Qaeda financier by the US and UN for years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's chief of staff arranged for the treatment of a foreign jihadist who was wounded in Syria, secret wiretaps have revealed.
According to documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Erdoğan's chief of staff, Hasan Doğan, received an emergency call from Osama Qotb, the nephew of Egyptian cleric Sayyid Qutb, a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, on October 13, 2013 at 15:46 hours. Qotb, acting on behalf of Yasin al-Qadi, an Egyptian-born Saudi national who was at one time flagged by the US Treasury and the UN al-Qaeda sanction committee, asked Erdoğan's chief of staff to make arrangements for hospital treatment for a 23-year-old man who was wounded in Syria.
"Brother Yasin knows him personally and loves him," Qotb said on the phone, describing him as a young man who got shot and wounded in Syria. Informing Doğan that the injured man was currently in the Turkish border town of Reyhanlı, Qotb said he needed to be transferred to a better hospital nearby. Qotb suggested that a publicly run a research and teaching hospital in Antakya might be the best choice but left the decision of which hospital would be best to Erdoğan's chief of staff.
Doğan said he would call the governor of the province to pick up the wounded man and transport him to the hospital. He asked Qotb to provide details for the man as well as a cell phone number for him in Reyhanlı to facilitate the urgent request.
At the time, al-Qadi was moving large amounts of money to Turkey in a joint venture with one of Erdoğan's sons, Necmeddin Bilal Erdoğan, and other business associates in what was described by Turkish investigators as an organized crime syndicate set up to commit fraud in regards to a valuable piece of public property in Istanbul using the influence of powerful figures in the government.
Al-Qadi secretly entered Turkey multiple times and met with Erdoğan himself as well as with Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkish intelligence agency MIT.
The treatment of wounded jihadists in Turkish hospitals was revealed in separate investigations in Turkey, but they were hushed up by the Erdoğan government just like the one launched into al-Qadi's activities in Turkey.
The secret wiretap transcript of a call between Qotb and Hasan Doğan was recorded on October 13, 2013 at 15:46 hours. The authorization was granted by the Istanbul 3rd Criminal Court on September 18, 2013 as part of investigation case file No.2012/656.
Al-Qadi was on the UN and US lists and was barred by law from entering Turkey or investing in any business pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1989 concerning al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities when some of the secret meetings were held between Erdoğan, the then-prime minister, and al-Qadi, with the chief of staff arranging the meetings between the two. Al-Qadi was later removed from the UN list, followed by the US Treasury delisting his name.
Al-Qadi, Doğan and Erdoğan's son Bilal were all leading suspects in an organized crime investigation pursued by prosecutors in Istanbul and were the subjects of detention warrants issued on December 25, 2013 by the prosecutors. However, Erdoğan stepped in, illegally preventing the execution of the warrants by ordering the police to not follow the prosecutor's orders. After the removal of the prosecutors and police chiefs who were involved in the investigation, Erdoğan managed to whitewash the crimes of his associates.
Abdullah Bozkurt is a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow.