Turkey’s Presidential Special Envoy to Libya Emrullah İşler helped promote family business in the North African country while involved in clandestine operations and serving on a special assignment ordered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to a well-placed government source who has intimate knowledge of the envoy’s dealings in Libya, İşler’s brother Ahmet Sami İşler had business dealings in various sectors even before the ouster of Libyan’s strongman Muammar Gaddafi. He operated under the political cover provided by his brother Emrullah, a lawmaker who had access to Erdoğan, prime minister at the time, as a translator and advisor on Arab affairs.
“Emrullah used his political influence to boost his brother’s business in Libya,” the source told Nordic Monitor on condition that his name be withheld for security reasons.
According to the source, Emrullah was sent on a covert assignment to Libya right after Erdoğan wrapped up his official trip there in 2010. A senior security official from Erdoğan’s protective detail accompanied Emrullah during the visit, which was kept from public view.
Emrullah was later rewarded by Erdoğan, who appointed him deputy prime minister. An Islamist who was educated in Saudi Arabia, Emrullah was Erdoğan’s point man on the clandestine task of driving an Islamist agenda in the Middle East and North Africa.
While busy running covert ops on behalf of his boss Erdoğan, Emrullah was lobbying for his brother’s businesses during private meetings with Libyan officials, politicians and businesspeople, the source added.
The operations of his brother Ahmet, although shaken by the tumultuous events in Libya, continued nonetheless, even expanding to other countries in Africa. For example, he was tapped as Africa coordinator by the Turkish Albayrak Group, an Islamist conglomerate that has ventures in various sectors from media to construction. The group enriched itself thanks to favorable contracts and tenders from the Erdoğan government and provided media endorsement to the government in exchange.
Emrullah also secured an official position for his brother at the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK), a government organization whose members mostly comprise Erdoğan loyalist businesspeople. Ahmet became the head of DEIK’s Turkey-Somalia Business Council. In his capacity as a DEIK official, he helps promote the Albayrak group, which has business ventures in Somalia as well.
The Albayrak Group, owned by a family of the same name, has long been accused of corrupt practices in Turkey and abroad with the help of the Turkish president. The group publishes the Yeni Safak daily, an Islamist rag that is a mouthpiece for the Erdoğan regime. It also owns two national TV networks, Kanal 7 and Ülke TV. One of the Albayrak family members attended the İstanbul İmam-Hatip, a religious public school, together with Erdoğan in the 1970s.
Emrullah still holds the title of special envoy to Libya and continues to attend parliamentary sessions as a lawmaker. He was educated at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Islamic sciences. He completed his Ph.D. on Tafsir (Interpretation of the Qur’an) at Ankara University. He had served as the deputy prime minister of Turkey between December 25, 2013 and August 29, 2014 and was named President Erdoğan’s special representative to Libya in 2014. Since then, he has regularly visited Libya and coordinated Erdoğan’s official and private contacts with jihadist groups in the country.
On November 28-29, 2010, he accompanied Erdoğan, who visited Libyan leader Gaddafi as his guest of honor at the 3rd EU-Africa Summit and ironically received the Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights. Erdoğan was the last recipient of the prize, which was discontinued following the demise of Gaddafi during the Libyan civil war.
The list of people who have received the prize, which includes a cash award of $250,000, includes some notable names — from Fidel Castro (1998) and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (2004) to Louis Farrakhan (1996) and Nelson Mandela (1989). The main criticism of the Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights was that it was an instrument for propaganda for the dictator. Among the prize winners were numerous Holocaust deniers and despots, promoting anti-American and anti-Western hatred.
Emrullah is notorious for a comment dated October 8, 2014 on Twitter about ISIL, saying that they kill but their activities do not amount to torture. Following condemnations, he was quick to delete and replace his tweet with a more negative note against the terrorist organization.
Emrullah also helped another brother secure a job in the government. On October, 28, 2018 Erdoğan appointed Emrullah’s elder brother, Nurullah İşler, as the deputy head of the State Archives operating under the president’s office.