A secret report submitted to the Turkish president by a foundation linked to the intelligence agency has revealed that an Islamist group funded by the government has developed a plan to train experts with a special focus on China, Russia and India.
According to the report, dated September 29, 2016, the strategic coordination department of the Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA), run by the family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, drafted a plan to train experts who would work in the field abroad with a special focus on India, China and Russia. Their expertise would cover a range of areas from politics to history, from sociology to the societal dynamics of the countries that were targeted, the report said.
All three countries mentioned in the report resonate deeply in Islamist circles in Turkey because of the large Muslim communities that live there. Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its affiliates often present cases of Muslim groups in Russia, China and India as a rallying cry during elections.
The foundation, which facilitates young Turkish Islamists landing jobs in government including in diplomacy, intelligence and security, suggested that the candidates would also be sent to these countries for further study in the field, providing them the opportunity to get to know the culture and language. The program, which covered a four-year period, would also be aided by foreign personnel who would be hired by the foundation.
TÜGVA document that was presented to the Turkish president was developed by the foundation’s strategic coordination department:Tugva_strategic_document_submitted_to_President
The report was filed under the title “A Report to be Submitted to Our President” and included photos of young people who appear to have been selected for the training. Some were seen next to an Indian or a Pakistani instructor.
It appears the program was developed to fill vacant spots in government agencies after the Erdoğan government launched an unprecedented purge of public officials including one-third of all Turkish diplomats, many veteran police chiefs, nearly all staff officers in the military and hundreds from the intelligence agency in 2014. President Erdoğan approved the program and directed that government resources help facilitate the foundation’s work, which was presented to the public as a nongovernmental activity.
At the time the report was submitted, Islamil Emanet was the president of TÜGVA. He was the one who submitted the report to Erdoğan. Emanet now serves as a member of the foundation’s High Advisory Board along with Bilal Erdoğan, the Turkish president’s son, who is the brains behind the foundation’s operations. The report was written by a TÜGVA employee named Mahmut Emin Yalçınkaya, Emanet’s secretary, and approved by the leadership.
The clandestine program rings alarm bells for many Turkey watchers who follow developments in the country closely. Especially considering the foundation’s links to Turkish intelligence agency MIT and jihadist outfits, one must worry about the repercussions that are certain to be felt by the countries mentioned in the report.
The leaked documents from TÜGVA’s archives indicated that the foundation worked closely with Turkish jihadist charity the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or IHH), which helped both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In many cases, IHH references played a significant role in landing government jobs as revealed in the leaked emails of Erdoğan’s son in-law Berat Albayrak in the fall of 2016.
The investigation into the Turkish assassin of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov revealed that Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the 22-year-old riot police officer who gunned Karlov down in December 2016, donated funds to the IHH. He also wanted to quit his job as a police officer and go to Syria for a jihadist campaign. He was even offered a spot in an anti-Russian protest rally organized by the IHH under the theme of a “Make Way for Aleppo” convoy.
What is more, TÜGVA invited Nureddin Yıldız, the cleric who who radicalized Karlov’s young assassin, as a keynote speaker at summer camps organized by the foundation to indoctrinate young Turks in poisonous Islamist ideology. Yıldız, who endorsed an armed jihadist campaign in Syria, frequently traveled to the Turkish capital to give sermons, some of which were attended by the assassin. He was never charged with any crime in connection to the assassination thanks to the political cover provided to him by the Erdoğan government.
Nordic Monitor previously reported how TÜGVA’s partner IHH networked with Indian extremist and militant Islamist organization the Popular Front of India (PFI) as part of the Turkish government’s outreach to Muslim communities in the Southeast Asia region. Two key leaders of the PFI, E. M. Abdul Rahiman and Prof. P. Koya, members of the National Executive Council of the PFI, were privately hosted in Istanbul by the IHH in October 2018.