The Turkish president promoted a colonel who was red-flagged by the security services because a relative of his was identified as working for an al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafist group in Turkey, confidential documents have revealed.
A deep background check into Staff Col. Fedai Ünsal revealed that the colonel’s cousin was found to be a member of the Salafist group. The information was provided on May 8, 2013 by the Security General Directorate and transmitted to the General Staff, which later informed the Land Forces Command about the intelligence.
Senior officers in the Turkish Armed Forces go through a rigorous vetting process every year, especially before decisions on promotions and assignments are made by the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The information about Ünsal’s cousin was recorded in the 2015 intelligence assessment report prepared by the General Staff Intelligence Directorate, which vetted 104 generals and 173 staff colonels as to fitness for promotion. Ünsal was placed on the blue list, meaning there were serious questions about his record.
Secret intelligence file prepared by the General Staff about Fedai Ünsal:Fedai_Unsal_confidential_file
Ünsal was also an indicted suspect in an organized crime gang operating out of Turkey’s western province of Izmir. His name was uncovered in a cache of archives kept by the gang, which was using honey traps with escort women, including some foreign nationals, as bait to obtain confidential documents from Turkish military officers and government employees as well as NATO ally officers deployed to Turkey.
The information obtained from the gang’s archive claimed that the colonel, a married man, had an extramarital affair with a foreign woman when he was serving as a military attaché in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He continued the relationship after his departure from Bosnia.
Other allegations are listed in his service record such as forcing teachers who were serving their compulsory military service to teach math and physics to his son at the base in violation of the military code of conduct. He also used military personnel and vehicles to pick up his daughter from school while serving in northern Cyprus.
Despite serious allegations and credible intelligence from the Security General Directorate, Erdoğan decided to keep him in his job at the 2015 YAŞ meeting, and he was assigned to chief of the section responsible for planning military drills (Tatbikat Şube Müdürü). He planned the Erciyes 2017 multi-nation military exercise that Qatar was invited to join. He also visited to Qatar in September 2015 to plan a joint Turkish-Qatari military exercise.
He was promoted to brigadier general and later to lieutenant general. In 2019 he was appointed general secretary of the General Staff and a year later his assignment was extended for another year in a decision made by Erdoğan.
Ünsal is one of many unsavory characters who were promoted within the ranks, especially after the Erdoğan government purged thousands of highly qualified officers including some 80 percent of all generals and admirals from NATO’s second largest army in terms of manpower. Most of the officers who had served at NATO posts in the past were flagged and removed from the military.
Document that shows Fedai Ünsal planned Qatar’s participation in the Erciyes 2017 military drill held in Turkey:Erciyes_2017_qatar_drill