İnan Kıraç, dubbed the “Lord of Darkness” in organized crime circles, reportedly fled Turkey after he was implicated in the 2002 murder of academic Necip Hablemitoğlu.
The billionaire businessman, who has wielded influence in politics, the military and the intelligence apparatus from the shadows for decades, was exposed to possible criminal charges when his right-hand man, Mustafa Levent Göktaş, a retired colonel, was named as the mastermind of the murder.
Göktaş, a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) elite Secial Forces Command, was believed to have led a kill team to murder Hablemitoğlu on Dec. 18, 2002 to influence the political debate in Turkey at the time. He is one of nine suspects who were accused by prosecutors of involvement in the murder. Göktaş was last seen in Kıraç’s office before he recently disappeared, prompting the police to launch a manhunt for him.
Kıraç used his superyacht SIRMA III, sailing under the Turkish flag, to make a trip to Rhodes on August 1, 2022 and reportedly headed to Italy from there, according to the Deniz news agency. Photos of Kıraç’s yacht in Rhodes show that he was visited by his associates who anchored their own yachts next to his.
He fled Turkey three days after Sedat Peker, a convicted mafia boss who used to be an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and did favors to support his government, posted a tweet threatening him with exposure of his illegal activities. Peker, who himself fled to the United Arab Emirates to escape criminal charges, started airing the dirty laundry of his associates in organized crime as well as revealing his own role in clandestine operations sanctioned by the Turkish government.
The Hablemitoğlu murder case was recently expanded after the testimony of Gökhan Nuri Bozkır, a former member of the Special Forces who admitted to his role in the assassination. According to his statement to a public prosecutor, Bozkır ran surveillance around Hablemitoğlu’s house in Ankara after receiving a secret order from his superior. He also took the killer to the house and helped him escape after the murder.
Hablemitoğlu was shot dead in front of his house; the assassin has never been captured. His murder, initially blamed on religious groups or German intelligence because of the academic’s campaign against German foundations and companies that were interested in investing in Turkey’s forests, is now believed to be linked to a shady group led by Kıraç. Bozkır was formally arrested on February 8, 2022, and his confession led to further arrests, prompting some to flee Turkey.
The billionaire businessman’s name came up in 2009 when a secret order called Encümen-i Daniş (Consultation Council ), which is composed of members of the bureaucracy, retired military officers and former ambassadors, was revealed to have played a role in steering politics in Turkey. Kıraç was the leader of the group at the time and called the shots in shaping Turkish politics.
Reports prepared by Encümen-i Daniş in the 1990s became part of official government policy after they were incorporated into the agenda of the National Security Council (MGK), which was dominated by the military at the time. This clandestine committee was influential in the formulation of the February 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention that overthrew a coalition government. The group helped blacklist various politicians, intellectuals, journalists, soldiers and bureaucrats as “dangerous personalities” who were threatening the regime.
Due to its secret nature, not much has been revealed about Encümen-i Daniş. Few have talked about it publicly, and even fewer have admitted to membership in it. The group does not favor Turkish membership in the European Union, even though it claims it does. It does not like transparency or freedom of speech and the press because an open, independent and critical media is a threat to its survival as a secret order.
Kıraç had also worked closely with Şenkal Atasagun, a former spymaster who ran Turkish intelligence agency MIT for years. Atasagun is currently a chief advisor in Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which drives a staunchly anti-Western agenda in Turkey.
When Kıraç was calling the shots in Turkish politics, some of the known members of his group, Encümen-i Daniş, were former top officials such as retired Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Üruğ, retired Chief of General Staff Gen. Ismail Hakkı Karadayı, retired Chief of General Staff Gen. Hüseyin Kıvrıkoğlu, former Parliament Speaker Necmettin Karaduman, former Foreign Minister Emre Gönensay, former Foreign Minister İlter Türkmen, retired Land Forces Commander Gen. Atilla Ateş, retired Air Forces Commander Gen. Ahmet Çörekçi, retired Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Öztorun, former State Minister Cahit Aral and former State Minister Safa Reisoğlu. The group is still active today, but has lost its sway over Turkish politics considerably. Its membership portfolio has changed, but Kıraç remains a powerful player who has still access to people in positions of influence in government institutions, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
Hablemitoğlu’s murder is not the only crime in which Kıraç was implicated. According to German-based investigative journalist Cevheri Güven, the assassinations of high-profile Turkish businesspeople, including the August 2001 murder of Üzeyir Garih, a Jewish-Turkish businessman stabbed to death in a Muslim cemetery in İstanbul’s Eyüp district, and the 2006 murder of businessman Özdemir Sabancı, a member of a major business and industrialist conglomerate, have Kıraç’s fingerprints on them as well.
Kıraç and his group were also involved in a series of military coup plots in the early 2000s codenamed Blonde Girl, Moonlight and Glove through their influence with high-ranking generals.
He leads Kıraça Holding with interests in the automotive and energy sectors and runs a foundation established in his and his wife’s name, the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation. In 2021 he and his daughter were identified in the Pandora Papers, a leak of some 12 million documents that reveal hidden wealth and tax avoidance by some of the world’s rich and powerful, with offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Luxembourg and Seychelles.
İpek Kıraç, one of the richest people in the world with a fortune of $1.6 billion according to the 2021 Forbes list, and her father İnan have two companies named Key Square Capital Partners Ltd and Key Square Capital Partners II Ltd in the BVI, established by Morgan & Morgan Trust, Fidinam and Alcogal. Key Square Capital Partners II Ltd, which was founded in 2011, was closed in 2017, while Key Square Capital Partners Ltd, founded in 2009, is still active.