The CEO of Turkish private military contractor SADAT, a paramilitary unit loyal to the Islamist president of Turkey, stated that there is a lack of legislation in Turkey allowing the provision of military services by private military firms to foreign countries’ armed forces, demanding that regulations be promptly enacted, in an effort to distance the company from its growing reputation of involvement in shady and illegal activities both locally and internationally.
SADAT, with its involvement in several Arab and African countries, has been providing military training and advising on military strategies aligned with the Turkish defense industry, which is predominantly controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family and close associates.
Following the International Defense Industry Fair, IDEF’23, in which SADAT participated, CEO Ali Kamil Melih Tanrıverdi on July 30 claimed that Turkey has become the shining star of the Turkish and Islamic world due to the successful economic and political programs implemented in the last 20 years. As a result, he said Turkey had risen to the position of a leading state expected to assist in various fields, including military and security matters.
Tanrıverdi emphasized that Turkey is committed to assisting friendly countries through “military and security cooperation agreements,” adding that these efforts, however, are not sufficient.
Tanrıverdi believes that Turkish companies require legislation to legally offer military training services. If this shortcoming is addressed, Turkish companies can emerge as an alternative policy tool for the government and effectively compete with Western companies that receive support from their respective governments.
It is currently prohibited for any entity other than the Turkish Armed Forces to provide military training within Turkey’s borders. SADAT officials, however, insist that the military training they offer takes place on the territories of the recipient countries. They claim the lack of legal recognition in Turkey is the reason they are unable to compete with foreign companies since they are unable to provide the necessary accreditation and qualification certificates demanded by the armed forces of the countries they seek to do business with.
However, he did not provide any information as to how they work with the foreign governments they already do business with.
Tanrıverdi stated that once regulations are put in place, companies like SADAT would be able to obtain the necessary authorizations to legally offer services such as commando, parachute, underwater assault and urban operations training.
Tanrıverdi also mentioned that SADAT had already presented a draft proposal for legislation and its justification to the government and the parliament.
During a recent appearance on a YouTube program, Tanrıverdi complained about the significant market share enjoyed by Western countries that had already established military training academies in many target markets. He also claimed that contrary to allegations, SADAT had not been involved in any operations in Syria and Libya and have not provided any services in those countries
SADAT has long been a subject of debate in Turkey due to its opaque structure and involvement in suspicious relationships. It has been the target of many allegations, ranging from the training of jihadists in Syria and Turkey to the transfer of fighters to Libya. The organization’s role was also questioned during a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, which many believe was a false flag that President Erdogan used to purge his opponents within the military. Retired officers affiliated with SADAT were reported to have organized the public in the streets during the attempted coup and proudly claimed to have fought against the renegade soldiers.
Hikmet Tanrıverdi’s SADAT was set up by his father Adnan Tanrıverdi and his associates on February 22, 2012. His father is a former military officer who served as a chief advisor to Erdogan for years. He had to leave his position following a Nordic Monitor report that he had been working to pave the way for the long-awaited Mahdi (prophesied redeemer of Islam), for whom the entire Muslim world is waiting. The implication was that President Erdogan is the expected leader and mahdi.Sadat_establishment_papers_2012
Adnan Tanrıverdi has been alleged to have provided profiling lists that included the names of officers considered to be opponents of President Erdogan within the military. These lists are believed to have been used for the purge of thousands of pro-NATO officers following the coup attempt in 2016.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry in 2021 reluctantly confirmed that retired military officers who belong to SADAT sat on military examination boards and participated in recruitment interviews.
In June 2020 UN rapporteurs sought information from the Turkish government about its role in recruiting, financing and deploying Syrian fighters to Libya. Allegations indicated that Turkey deployed mercenaries, including children, from Syrian armed groups to support the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. A UN letter revealed the involvement of Turkey’s paramilitary contractor, SADAT, in these operations, enlisted to assist with the selection of soldiers and their travel documentation.
In 2021 Turkish mobster and Erdogan’s former ally Sedat Peker exposed SADAT’s role in facilitating the illegal transportation of arms and supplies to armed jihadist groups in Syria. In a recorded FaceTime conversation published by Peker himself, he confirmed his participation in sending arms under the pretext of humanitarian aid to Syria in cooperation with SADAT.
In a video obtained by Nordic Monitor from a radio interview in 2021, Hikmet Tanrıverdi admitted publicly that the firm works with Turkish intelligence agency MIT and coordinates actions with Turkish diplomats and defense officials.
On May 13, 2022 main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu surprised everyone by making a press statement in front of SADAT’s headquarters in Istanbul. He said Turkey would never be handed over to paramilitary organizations. He referred to SADAT as a paramilitary organization that had been serving President Erdogan. Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that SADAT’s objectives include irregular warfare training, encompassing activities such as sabotage, ambush, assassination and terrorism. He further asserted that the organization is involved in training terrorists.
SADAT filed a defamation lawsuit against Kılıçdaroğlu, denying his allegations. The legal proceedings concluded in April 2023, with the court ruling in favor of SADAT and ordering Kılıçdaroğlu to pay damages. It should be noted that in Turkey, where the judiciary is perceived to be under government control, defamation lawsuits filed against opposition politicians are often resolved in favor of the ruling party’s supporters.
SADAT then ran a commercial during a live television interview on TV 100, a channel known for its opposition to the government, where Kılıçdaroğlu appeared as a guest on January 14, 2023. During the interview, the banner advertisement displayed masked soldiers on the screen. Following the strong reactions to the commercial, the channel’s management was compelled to issue an apology.
Most recently, Hikmet Tanrıverdi was present in the official delegation during President Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar last month. The opposition accused Erdogan of dishonesty, citing his previous statement claiming no affiliation with SADAT.