Turkish social media sensation accuses a top adviser of President Erdogan of arming the Al Nusra Front terrorist group
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Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker, who became a social media sensation in May with a series of YouTube videos dishing dirt on powerful politicians, dropped his heaviest bombshell yet on Sunday with a new video accusing a top adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of sending weapons to the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
Peker began his series of video exposes by accusing numerous officials of corruption and linking them to rapes and murders, but he generally refrained from criticizing Erdogan directly, and Erdogan was uncharacteristically silent as the Peker videos accumulated millions of views.
Last week, Erdogan finally attacked Peker directly, comparing him to a terrorist or outlaw, and Turkish courts issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a lawsuit filed by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, one of Peker’s most frequent targets.
On Sunday, in his eighth YouTube video, Peker claimed Turkey funneled weapons to Nusra Front jihadis using a paramilitary group called SADAT allegedly founded by Adnan Tanriverdi, formerly chief military adviser to Erdogan. Peker said Erdogan himself was not involved in the plot, having been “misled” by his advisers and their business partners in Qatar and Azerbaijan.
When Erdogan launched a military incursion into Syria in 2016, he said its ultimate goal was to help Syrian rebel groups “end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror,” a reference to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Erdogan certainly did seem to have regime change on his mind at the time.
Peker said he himself was involved in operations to smuggle Turkish weapons into Syria, but the intended recipients were Syrian Turkmen groups. He claimed he received permission from Erdogan’s administration in 2015 to hide weapons inside humanitarian aid convoys.
“They said ‘let’s send additional trucks to Syria with your aid convoy.’ We sent our trucks to Syria as aid trucks, then we posed for photos with them. However, I thought they sent other trucks to the Syrian Turkmen rebels,” Peker said, attempting to confirm allegations that have long been made against the ruling AKP Party by its political opponents — and by the Russian government, which accused Turkey of buying oil from Syrian terrorists.
According to Peker, a unit within SADAT — ostensibly a consulting firm established in 2012 by hardline Islamist officers expelled from the Turkish military — rerouted these clandestine arms shipments to al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria. Nusra claimed in 2016 that it had severed ties with al-Qaeda and rebranded itself as a breakaway jihad group called Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
SADAT was allegedly involved in thwarting the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan, winning a spot as Erdogan’s senior military adviser for its founder, Tanriverdi, but he resigned his position last year after making fiery comments about the impending return of the Mahdi, the “redeemer” of Islam whose appearance will launch an apocalyptic final battle with the infidels.
“They diverted aid trucks for Turkmen to Al-Nusra under my name, but I didn’t send them, SADAT did. I was informed about it from one of our Turkmen friends,” Peker said in the video released Sunday. He said he was opposed to arming the Nusra Front because it might turn those weapons against the Syrian Turkmen he supported.
Peker said Turkish “big business” interests in Syria cooperated with the Nusra Front and its financial backing because their permission was needed, along with that of Metin Kiratli, Erdogan’s chief of administrative affairs, to conduct business operations in Syria. Peker claimed his frequent target Suleyman Soylu helped create a “corrupt network” to hide the money trail leading from Syria back to Turkish interests.
“I’m not talking about deliveries consisting of several trucks. I’m talking about those worth billions of dollars, including crude oil, tea, sugar and second-hand cars,” he said.
Peker complained the corrupt network he described was stealing huge amounts of money from the Turkish people and was even stealing from the Turkish mafia.
“Should we enter Syria? Enter. Stay. Stay, but why does the money never come to the state, the money is still going there. But there is a trade there, big money is made. Crude oil, copper, aluminum,” he said. “In the last four years, there are so many big holdings, institutions, and organizations in this country, they all passed to this company.”
Peker implied a similar corrupt network is under construction in Libya, where Turkey intervened on behalf of the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). He referenced Erdogan’s publicly declared “Blue Homeland” mission to extend Turkish control over the Mediterranean through deals with the Libyan government — a plan Peker said he wholeheartedly supports — but warned another shadowy network is forming to siphon off the profits from Turkey’s investment in Libya.
Turkey’s opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet broke a sensational story in 2015 that involved a convoy of trucks intercepted by Turkish security forces with crates of weapons bound for Syrian rebel forces. Cumhuriyet revealed the arms shipment was linked to Turkey’s national intelligence agency, MIT.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and his Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were charged with espionage and personally threatened by Erdogan, who insisted his government was not aiding Syrian rebel forces. Dundar and Gul were ultimately acquitted on Erdogan’s charges of attempting to overthrow his government, but convicted on espionage charges and jailed after surviving multiple assassination attempts.
Dundar escaped to Germany after he was released from jail, and was subsequently sentenced to another 27 years in absentia. On Sunday, speaking from exile in Germany, Dundar said he was threatened with death in 2016 for exposing the arms smuggling scheme by none other than Sedat Peker, who slipped him a note in prison that read, “You betrayed the nation. You deserve to be executed.”
“The truth has emerged, but not the whole truth yet,” Dundar said of Peker’s video. “We are slowly approaching the finale, which everyone knows: Let us say what Peker is insinuating, but not saying … a sleepless week is beginning for Tayyip Abi.”
Abi is a term of brotherly respect, in the same spirit as “hombre,” and Tayyip is President Erdogan’s middle name. Peker also referred to Erdogan as his “abi” in the Sunday video and implied his next release will include direct allegations against the Turkish president.
SADAT responded to the video on Sunday by denying involvement in illegal activities and saying Peker himself “confessed to arms smuggling” in his video.
“Peker confesses to selling weapons to terrorist groups, but our company has no links to the weapons delivered to these terrorist groups by Peker,” SADAT declared via Twitter, challenging Peker to produce documentation to back up his claims.