Mar 1, 2015, Hands Off Syria
Lt Col Hussein al-Harmoush was the most senior defector from the Syrian Arab Army early in the Syria conflict. He fled to Turkey in June 2011 where he proceeded to set up a so-called Free Officers Movement to overthrow the Syrian government. His ambitions were short-lived. He disappeared from Hatay Altınözü camp in 29 August together with Mustafa Kassoum, a gym instructor who had been passing himself off as an Army Major. Two weeks later Harmoush was on Syrian TV, confessing to his crimes and to Turkey’s complicity.
After a frenzied investigation Turkish security rounded up several people, and seven individuals were tried for the ‘crime’ of returning Harmoush to Syria. The most senior among them, Önder Sığırcıkoğlu, a 19 year veteran of Turkey’s Intelligence Agency MIT, was handed a 20 year sentence. After 32 months incarceration at Osmaniye prison, Sığırcıkoğlu made his escape while being transferred to another facility and was able to leave Turkey clandestinely. The followings are his revelations to Ömer Ödemiş for leading Turkish news site OdaTV.:
ABANDONED FACILITIES USED FOR LOGISTICS
The outskirts of town of Reyhanli is dotted with scores of abandoned buildings and facilities almost all of which are used as logistic centers for militants’ supplies, says Sığırcıkoğlu. “The old Monopoly Administration warehouse within Reyhanli proper also serves the same purpose,” he notes. “Supplies brought over from other regions were collected in these centers until they were transferred to final destinations over Reyhanli, Yayladag or Kilis borders. Again, the military nature of the shipments were carefully kept under cover.”
Weapons were primarily brought in by ship. Sığırcıkoğlu remembers seeing a lot of armament that had previously been used in Libya. “There appeared to be a preference for brands from non-EU countries. Weapons of Albanian or former Yugoslavian origin were brought in, for example, and were dealt out to salafi terror gangs.” Indeed, I personally saw reports that mentioned I.K.86 bullets. I.K. is the acronym for Igman-Konyits, former Yugoslavian weapons and munitions factory in present-day Bosnia.
DIRECT PHONE LINES FOR KEY PLAYERS
“Beginning from early August 2011, departmental managers and senior employees from MIT Strategic Intelligence Department and Counter-Espionage Department came to Hatay for private meetings with high level opposition organizers, particularly with the founders and top names of the Free Syrian Army. Figures they met included Harmoush, Riad al Assad and Ahmed Hijazi among others. I found out about this from the grapevine as well as some of their written exchanges. Ankara was now bypassing us and establishing direct connections. The Ankara team also gave their contacts special mobile phones so they could communicate over a hotline. When these guys neglected to check their phones, Ankara prompted us to go and warn them to respond to the calls.”
HEYSEM TOPALCA LONG AN MIT CONTACT
PREPARED TO TESTIFY IN INTERNATIONAL COURTS
a) ‘Defected brigade says it has killed 80 members of Assad’s forces’