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Former Turkish officer Umit Berber: Unregistered Weapons distributed on July 15 put Turkey in a great danger!

Sedat Peker, a Turkish mobster with ties to Turkish Deep State, who has been making claims and sensitive revelations about Erdogan Government, claimed that Suleyman Soylu, minister of interior affairs distributed unregistered weapons to civilians during and after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Selim Temurci, then president of AKP Istanbul organization stated that, he himself was also involved in distribution of the weapons, however, Erdogan and his son-in-law were the ones who gave these orders.  

Right after the coup attempt, Erdogan said he learned about the coup from his brother-in-law on July 15: ‘My son-in-law called me, and he said he saw some soldiers on the street. This is how l learned about the coup.’

But these revelations make it very clear that Erdogan and his party were getting prepared for the coup long time before the July 15 coup attempt.

Umit Berber, a Turkish military officer who was removed from his post after the coup attempt, says, such a distribution of high number of weapons and ammunition requires at least 6 months of preparation.  

Berber was on active duty since 1999 in various units of the Gendarmerie General Command, both in the headquarters and detachments. Both in terms of logistics, tactics, and strategics, he was active in the units.

In an interview with Politurco, retired Captain Umit Berber tells us what the unregistered weapons distributed to Erdogan’s supporters mean and shares his insights about the mysteries of the so called coup attempt. 

Sedat Peker made a statement. He talked about the unregistered weapons which was distributed among the AKP (Justice and Development Party) base on and after 15th of July. He claimed that this process was executed by the people, or the institutions connected to the Ministry of Interior. Now, as a soldier, how would you evaluate this subject?  

Sure, if you would allow me, I would like to start with some definition first. I would like to explain the subject of weapons. Now the subject about the weapons had come to the fore thanks to Sedat Peker. Also, the weapons distributed to the civilians. However, we, meaning I and a lot of different people who were the victims of this process, the so-called coup attempt, made statements which were backed up by official documents about this subject. But they did not have any kind of press coverage like Sedat Peker’s statement.

Now, I would like to explain the thing that is called “weapon” in order for our viewers to visualize. Starting from a very small-scale weapon and up to a rocket, all of the equipment is considered to be a weapon. Meaning, when we are talking about a weapon, it is not something small. Besides, these over one hundred thousand weapons are told to be long-barreled. And we are talking about an equipment which is frightening and capable of wounding or killing an individual or a group, like I said according to its caliber. No citizen should remain insensitive about this. This is no longer a situation about a view about an ideological group or about a lifestyle.

Actually, this is a situation which threatens national security. Since we are talking about on the matter of weapons if you wish, let me explain how a weapon could be obtained. You know, a weapon is a very important element of the state in terms of its legitimacy. This might be for defense or attack purposes. And as I mentioned earlier, this is a very risky equipment. And for this reason, it is a process which should be controlled by the government by providing reassurance to the citizens. And in all of the countries, there are many established laws on how such processes should be carried out.

Now, either the country buys the weapon from another country, or it produces itself just like it is possible with the Turkey’s Mechanical and Chemical Industry Institution. Conservation is as important as the supplying process. And in Turkey, the first thing coming to mind is the Turkish Armed Forces, police units, and gendarmerie units. And we can include MIT (Turkish National Intelligence Agency) whose capability about weapons has been kept increasing recently. Yes, Turkish National Intelligence Agency is in the frame. And here, this process is carried out based on many regulations binding and ranging from the personnel and the storages. And let me tell you about another detail. In Turkish Armed Forces, they keep an account of even a very tiny equipment or a very small element such as a screw. And there are many matters carried out concerning the regulation. And ranging from the responsible sergeant in the storage room and the accountable officer who checks and controls the register and up to the highest-ranking officer, it is arranged for upward accountability. I mean, look, we are talking about a weapon right now.

It is out of the question for a weapon to be lost.  Let me make another explanation especially for the people who did not do military service. A weapon is always signified as being one’s honor in Turkish Armed Forces. And it is not possible to leave a weapon unattended for even one minute, I am not exaggerating this sentence, not even for a single minute. What I mean is, for example, a unit returned back from somewhere and is very exhausted. There should be a break for some rest. But the weapons will be present and the commander in charge appoints somebody and says that up to this hour it is somebody and then somebody else and they cannot transfer the duty to somebody else before the other appointee arrives.

Meaning, the weapons, under no circumstances may be left unattended. The possibility for the mentioned one hundred thousand weapons to be lost altogether is a very funny situation even for somebody who simply did his military service. That is why we are going to talk about different scenarios. Now, I would like to return back to your question. In Armed Forces, there are many activities held for shooting. Let’s say there is a shooting activity, it is planned already two weeks prior. For example, we are going for shooting 2 weeks later on Thursday. The coordination is carried out. Who is going to provide or supply the weapons? Where is the ammunition going to be taken from? Despite all of this, look, despite the fact that is an organization that has been planned for two weeks, a lot of misfortune can happen. And you cannot just solve it on the spot.

There might be further mishaps and so on. Look, we are talking about an organization inside a military order. What did Sedat Peker say about the evening of July 15th? He is saying that they have been handed over to civilians. These weapons… Now, they did not give them to every citizen. Because they cannot give it to the people who are enemies for them. There should be somebody chosen. And there should have been a storage for them. And inside that storage room, the unregistered weapons should be kept additionally. Because the other weapons which are coordinated by them should not be mixed with the others. The personnel responsible for the distribution should be designated. And who, at what time, how many in return of which document, which signature, until when all of these details should be worked out prior. And as you would appreciate, in one hour, especially when seeing all of the reactions in that evening, it is not possible much, this should have been prepared beforehand.

Umit Berber

Former Turkish Officer Umit Berber

President Erdogan stated that he found out about the coup from his brother-in-law. But on the other hand, the Provincial Head of AKP at the time stated that the distribution of these weapons cannot be possible without President Erdogan’s or his son-in-law Berat Albayrak’s knowledge. And it seems that there is a contradiction here too. Now, in your opinion, maybe you would want to approach from this point. You mentioned that these weapons are either produced domestically or purchased from another country. What is your analysis on this matter?

Let me carry on like this, I believe we managed to explain the sensitivity of the matter of weapons. And for a weapon in The Turkish Armed Forces, when they shoot it or use ammunition, it is not possible to bring together weapon and ammunition together except when shooting. Why? Because it is a dangerous situation. I mean, it can be a reason for undesired injuries or casualties. Educated people must use this. However, providing these to the citizens means that you pave the way for all kinds of chaos, injury, and killing. And this is beyond control. We mentioned that weapons could either be produced in Turkey’s Mechanical and Chemical Industry Institution or purchased from outside. I would like you to draw attention on a point about Mechanical and Chemical Industry Institution. I mean I would like to draw attention. I think it was established in around 1937 or 1940. Until 1986-1987, in its history, I am talking about the factory in Kirikkale, There was not one single explosion. Not a single one. Heaven knows why. In 1986, and between 1992-1995, and finally in 1997 there were around 5 explosions.

Now, when we have a look at PKK’s (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) establishment and activities, you know, it started in 1980s, their first armed action was in 1982 and we are talking about an organization that gradually intensified their actions to a peak in 1990s. These organizations and other similar ones, illegal ones, and terrorist organizations need a unique equipment which is a weapon.  A weapon, and how is it possible to obtain a weapon? The easiest way for this is to have somebody inside the government mechanism to provide subcontracting to this system. It is possible by “providing water” to this system. Now, what does Mechanical and Chemical Industry Institution have to do with this explosion? When there is an explosion in there. Through the incident reports, it is possible for anybody to say that “these many weapons are lost”, “these number of weapons are missing” and so on. I mean we cannot just look at them as if they were just a coincidence. You know, when technology is advanced further.

Do you mean that even PKK could have received weapons through this organization?

Yes, look, when technology is advanced further and the precautions for labor safety are increased, workplace accidents are decreased, it is like that throughout all industries. But we have an opposite statistic with Mechanical and Chemical Industry Institution. We cannot see it as a coincidence. Furthermore…

And how are you setting up a substructure? Are you referring that there was a mutual relationship between Mehmet Ağar and PKK?

During the Ergenekon trial process, you know that some of these explosions were mentioned. Tuncay Guney had statements during the Ergenekon trial process. He was talking about an incident he personally witnessed himself. Without any intermediaries. He mentioned that 24 thousand weapons were provided to Barzani and Talabani and 6 thousand weapons were provided to PKK and Dogu Perincek, together with Veli Kucuk were the mediators. And they stated that they were moving under in control of MIT and JITEM and that was why they were not bothered with the search warrants and everything else. See how this is similar with the MIT trucks headed to Syria. Because it must show similarities.

Because the profile for all of them are exactly the same. And they must be supplied somehow. And the easiest way to do this is to supply them domestically. And unfortunately, some people who call themselves as “deep” and they use public force in order to ensure the delivery of these weapons to various terrorist organizations. And a lot of things have been written about this. And the most recent example was mentioned by Sedat Peker. What did he say? He even mentioned his own brother. He stated that Korkut Eken, a deep state operative of the time, called him and gave a weapon to him. This is where I stop. He gave him a weapon. And he sent him to Cyprus. Even they went there together, and he mentioned about killing a journalist. Who is Korkut Eken? He is somebody who is capable of using his power in the government. And there is a weapon that is supplied. And that weapon, I mean I do not think there is another possibility, was one hundred percent unregistered. Because such people do not use any kind of weapon that is registered or has potential to point back at them for such activities. Illegal organizations are in need of unregistered weapons. Because they will carry on with the activity and nothing will point back at them. About this, let’s work our minds about the 1990s.

Weapons 1

In case of any intelligence unit’s vehicle gets caught and a long-barreled weapon is revealed in the trunk. You know there were news about this in the public eye and such weapons turned out to be unregistered. We all know very well, and please let’s not lie to ourselves. These weapons were being used for illegal activities. And because of such activities and to make sure nobody has difficulties; these weapons were always unregistered. However, a recovery period was experienced about this in Turkey. When? It was during 2000 and after 2005. Not keeping unregistered equipment pursuant to the law of harmonization code of the European Union and registering them again and there was a more democratizing process thanks to this registration. Besides, when we have a look at the statistics of the year 2004, sorry 2014, while the total number of unregistered weapons were 14-17 thousand including the lost weapons, this number today is 105-110 thousand. And these statistics demonstrate the Republic of Turkey’s approach on this matter.

Alright, as for the weapons mentioned by Sedat Peker. Would you like to repeat again, in your opinion, where from these weapons came to surface? Where could they be purchased from? What is the source?

Alright, let’s approach this matter. You know around 250 citizens and including the soldiers, a total of 300 people passed away on 15th of July. They were martyred in that night. And 17 of these deaths happened in front of or inside the building of the Gendarmerie General Command.

I examined 8 of them. Let me tell you why I could not examine all 17 of them. I would like to share this desperate situation with our readers. And since nobody keeps a report about these deaths, like an autopsy report and so on. Since they were seen as traitors from the very beginning, there is no report or any kind of document about these people. Therefore, I could only focus on civilian deaths. And about these 8 deaths, I examined autopsy reports casualty status, ballistics examination and comparative estimation reports of the weapons. I made an extensive examination and I managed to release my work to the media thanks to Ahmet Nesin. And unfortunately, these reports told us something like this: the weapons used by the soldiers, as the defendants who stand trial because of the so-called July 15th coup attempt did not match with the bullet residues, exit residues, and gunshot residues on the death and all of these reports and examinations did not point to the defendant soldiers. They said that the defendant soldiers did not kill these individuals.

Then, the first question comes to mind is “Who killed them?” Unfortunately, we cannot provide an answer to this question. Because, the people who were inside this thing, meaning in the incident of July 15th, there are defendant soldiers, police personnel, some of the special forces of the gendarmerie, and civilian SADAT type paramilitary organizations.  And after Sedat Peker’s statements, all of our citizens know that our words are not mere. There are some other armed groups as well. Since the weapons used by the other armed groups were not examined. We do not know who the murderers are.

However, the only thing we know is that the murderers are not the defendant soldiers. So, where do we end up here? We think that the organization that provided the weapons to the civilians has the main proprietor of the share. There are many visual records and reports that prove this.

But, as you may know, the Republic of Turkey passed another decree-law. And according to this decree-law. It is not possible to hold anybody responsible for the deaths other than the defendants for that night. Meaning, the murderers are taken under protection.

Why are they taken under protection? Because it means that somebody is pretty sure that somebody is killed with the weapons provided. Somebody is thinking “They are killed with the weapons we provided”, “let’s take them under protection so nobody can inspect anything.” If we think of another possibility. For example, if the defendant soldiers or somebody else would have been shot by a weapon belonging to a police officer, I think that they would not stop themselves to carry on with an investigation. However, at the end of this investigation, they have somebody they do not want us to learn about. And these people are civilians for sure, there is no other explanation. I evaluate this as such.

 Did you have a chance to examine the incident of Erol Olcok?

The incident of Erol Olçok and the incident happened in front of the Gendarmerie General Command have many similarities. From whichever point of view, we look at July 15th, there is always the same picture. At one side, there is the soldier who acts like a timed bomb, and they are also declared as the coup plotters for ages. For example, tanks, let me talk about them, some of the tanks did not have ammunitions in them. They told them just to be nothing more than a visual. There are civilians there. And there are somebody wearing turbans and cloaks. Some of them are using some Arabic terms, while the others chant “Allah-u Akbar.

15 temmuz darbe isid

Yes, there is the police, and they were organized there earlier. And there is that somebody who fires the shots and has a very different place in every different incident in a dark place such as inside a forest. And you know, it is only possible to do it with a long-barreled weapon in the darkness of the night. They would need a sniper rifle. And then there is this. We always see this when we inspect fatal incidents. We’ve also seen this for the Erol Olcok incident. I think his wife Mrs. Nihal Olcok is also well acquainted on this matter, so she is not digging any further or she is just trying to refer to it. We are seeing the same situation on this matter too.

 Yes. Alright, these weapons which were distributed on July 15th, how long does it take to make it happen? In your opinion, how long ago did they start studying for the preparation of this process?

Now, when we only focus on the weapons and logistics side of this matter, they need to designate the people you will deliver the weapons to. There is also an abroad connection for this. Let’s start with the Iranian connection. You know that there was an individual called Qasim Soleymani. An official from AKP praised him so much and stated that he came and helped during the evening of 15th of July. But he did not elaborate.

Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Qasem Soleimani who commanded domestic and abroad militia.

Can you think about it? You are going to organize something with the individuals from abroad and you are also experiencing language issues with these people, and you would need to do a very extensive spadework. Only in the phase of logistics without including any personnel, only the questions about how the weapons will be prepared, where will they be taken from, how many of them are in question, only this type of organization requires 2 months. However, if there are personnel and somebody from abroad, translations, coordination, and the information must be kept a secret, how to mobilize these individuals. The organization process of these should be evaluated separately.

So, my question here is, the weapons distributed to the AKP base, we know that they were distributed that night and they continued to distribute it later on. How many months does it date back?  

If we are going to talk about all of the processes, as your questions suggests, it is not possible to manage it earlier than 6 months. No way, you cannot do it. Even if you ask Turkish Armed Forces to do this, if there is going to be international connections in this matter, they cannot do it earlier than 6 months. This is only under normal circumstances. There will be other problems. Then you should organize this deep down.

You are saying it requires a minimum of 6 months of preparations.

Yes, yes, yes. You know there is a considerable number of weapons here. I also checked the comments concerning this topic. There were comments like it is enough for 20 brigades or even an army. These comments are spot on in terms of statistical significance. I am asking our citizens to approach the matter in a different way rather than these comments. Look, we are not talking about a conventional war. We might discuss the effectiveness of a brigade or an army during a conventional war. But we are talking about paramilitary groups. We are talking about civilians. Thus, we need to compare the total number of weapons for the military power concerning the residential quarter and inner-city incidents. The total number of weapons is capable of feeding at least 300 battalion level units. And with a level of 300-500 battalions, you can eliminate all kinds of critical organizations by critical I mean the police, all of the organizations carrying some kind of a weapon.

The graveness of the incident is very high. This number of weapons mean that, and when we say a battalion, for example it means that when you send it to a police department, it is more than capable of neutralizing it. And we need to approach this matter as a residential quarter incident as a domestic conflict rather than a conventional war. And we are facing a quantity of weapons that is capable of locking down entire Turkey. Moreover, I would like our citizens to evaluate the situation with this information. A MIT (National Intelligence Organization) law was passed 3-4 months ago. According to this law, any kind of public event or if it is necessary, weapons, including heavy weaponry, possessed by Turkish Armed Forces and police would be passed to MIT. It is another discussion point about MIT finding it necessary to use heavy weaponry but somehow, they evaluated this matter like this, so including heavy weaponry may be and must be supplied to MIT. In other words, if there is a disorder and if somebody, demonstrates reflexes to protect the state, a law was passed that is capable of blocking this reflex. Meaning, Turkish Armed Forces comes and asks you to hand your weapons to MIT. So MIT is strengthened and we are seeing the paramilitary groups that received weapons.

When MIT finds it necessary there is a paramilitary group that can be dispatched, coordinated, and managed an AKP army, a paramilitary group, I mean, on what grounds it may be used? For example, when AKP loses the elections in a possible conflict when AKP objects the results of the elections during an unrest, do you think that it is possible for the government together with the armed forces to fight against such a paramilitary power? What would be the scene in a situation like this?

Truth be told, It does not matter whether it is AKP, MHP, or CHP. We are talking about a very serious national security matter here. We are making statements in order to warn our people about the potential problems our beautiful county might face and for everybody to be aware.

But why did it become a current issue? You know, this topic was on the news three years ago. This is not something unknown, people knew it before and so did we. Such incidents were on the newspapers. But becoming a current issue just now when there are two years to 2023, where Erdogan wants to announce his absolute power. In other words, during a period when Erdogan tries to take a turn in order to consolidate his power altogether, these weapons to be mentioned by the people such as Sedat Peker who could easily be considered as a spokesperson for the former owners of the state and the circles who are sensitive about the Ergenekon trials trying to remain the issue on the agenda bring such questions to our minds. I wonder if you agree, are these the signals of a final showdown between the former owners of the state and the new one before Turkey gets into a new corner?

First of all, I would like to state this. Right now, the people who are competent and have a political view are unfortunately misguided. And next to this misguidance, they are forced to feel the legal protection. There are individuals who seriously advise these people to take arms. And these individuals have public acceptance. When you check YouTube about this matter or if you check Twitter, you can see many images, including Instagram, a lot of images with weapons and we also see that armament of Internal Affairs is supported. I do not want to reveal any names in order not to advertise. A lady had stated that their family is capable of taking out 50 people with their equipment. Somebody else stated that they buried the weapons, and they are waiting. There are some other who focused on the importance of the weapons and not to experience such a night again. And there is a new law passed about this. And people are thinking. The people who have such ideas, competent ones and the people who have the same political views. They say that “Even if I commit a crime knowingly or by mistake in that night, my state protects me.” This is a very wrong perception. And unfortunately, our President has some reflexes. What kind of a reflex? Calling the people on the streets when there is a problem. You know he stated that they barely manage to keep 50-51% at home and has similar reflexes like when he had during 15 July incident. If such reflexes appear again and if the people go out on streets again, and they will do it with arms this time, and because of the reasons I mentioned just now, they feel safe. And an internal conflict will start where there are bloody incidents

Do you think that these weapons were delivered with ammunition?

Well, this is the funniest point. You know the Minister of Internal Affairs had a statement about this matter. He had stated that the weapons were without ammunition. He stated it was not important. As a matter of fact, they need to ask themselves this question. Ilker Basbug, the then Chief of Staff pointed out to an empty flame thrower during the Ergenekon trials, and he stated it was a “pipe” and particularly AKP wrote about this incident too much and gave him a hard time about it. They had stated that how he was mocking with the public and so on. In fact, the explanation and projection are exactly the same. Meaning, there is a weapon, but you are saying that it will not do anything without ammunition. The one who manages to find that weapon will easily manage to find the ammunition.

Since there is the ammunition extent of this story and you have a government experience. The state does not do anything without registration, doesn’t it mean that all of these individuals are registered as well? Whoever distributed these weapons, they should know who the receivers were in my opinion. Because these people will need ammunition too. What do you think?

As a matter of fact, I heard it from a police officer I know personally. In the evening, meaning in the evening of July 15th, he told me about an incident happened in Ankara police headquarters. He stated that civilians received weapons with identity cards.

With identity cards? Therefore, they were registered.

Later on, he stated that after receiving further instructions, they started distributing it without any identity cards. And about the ammunition, you know, if my memory serves correct, it should be 2017 in Cubuk. A weapon was used in this incident, in this homicide and this weapon was among the ones which were distributed on July 15th, and you know this weapon had ammunition too. It is not possible to deliver them without ammunition. I would like to make another statement here. That night, they stated that the soldiers slaughtered the people on that night. As I explained you earlier, after examining 8 bodies, we did not see anything like that. Obviously, somebody else slaughtered them. I also want to share this military information. There were many tanks on that night. If one of those tanks with ammunition would have made a shot at least 200 people would be dead, you know they were there as a group. Those soldiers there risked their lives, and you know they were under some social pressure there, they were having stones and sticks from everywhere by risking their own lives, they did not show any wrong reflexes as such.

Whereas these people are thought to be the coup plotters but if it would have been a real coup. I am guessing a coup would not be considered as a punch. A coup would be under way to be successful. This was a coup entirely destined to be a losing game.

Yes, I will start with another good point. Another example of Gendarmerie General Command. 8 friends died in the headquarters of the gendarmerie. There were killed, slaughtered. And the headquarters of the gendarmerie is located inside the city. There is a very small wall in front of it. Look, there was not one single police casualty there. And since there are no defendant soldiers concerning the civilian deaths. Are these soldiers so clumsy? They cannot even shoot and take down even a single one of them. Is it possible? You know the soldier’s ability on this matter is above all other units. But we need to understand this. These soldiers did not take action in order to kill somebody.

Therefore, calling this a coup is quite wrong. Since we know the coups happened in the past.

Now, a weapon, by virtue of its importance mentioned earlier is a matter that should be discussed very seriously on every level. If we are talking about a weapon and talking about the existence of a weapon. That means there is no point to talk about any kind of ideology, lifestyle, which party, which religion and so on. It means that there is a problem concerning security. And a weapon, can only be possessed by legal organizations and mechanisms such as Turkish Armed Forces. Aside from this, no organization can possess a weapon. If they do, the survival problem will come to the surface. And if they do, the structure we call the parallel state will emerge. No other structure may possess weapons. Everybody, all of the citizens must be very sensitive about this matter. The citizens who are asking about the 128 billion dollars, they are right for asking, but the first question that must be asked is the questions about the lost weapons and if they give up chasing this question, we should be concerned about our future, ourselves, and future generations. Our country might be occupied by somebody else. By means of using such paramilitary groups. Everybody should be very sensitive about this matter.

My final question, to the groups who possess these weapons and if it is an activity made by a political party and has a political extent. Is it possible to prosecute these individuals or institutions about being a terrorist organization, is there a base for this?

Yes, you asked a very good question. We need to call out to these people as well. The people who are a part of this, I am calling out to the citizens who possess weapons. Maybe you are taking photos and sharing them on Instagram, maybe you are bragging about them right now. The organization that gave you the weapon will ask you to use that weapon when the time comes. And you are on the edge right now and it is possible for you to fall down from that edge. Even if you become a killer, you kill or get killed this remorse, if you do not lose your conscience, will continue until you die. This weapon is a burden. Our soldiers, who were dismissed after decree-laws, showed similar reflexes. And right after they were dismissed, the first thing they did was to hand over their weapons. Because the soldier is very sensitive about this and knows that it is a burden. Because he knows that he has a risk to use his weapon especially during public events and he chooses not to take it with him. But the people who do not have prior education about it might think of using it easily. In order to lose this burden, at the earliest convenience. I advise these people to surrender their weapons to the police departments and like we mentioned, the wind of the competent can just go away and there might be democracy or different winds to come. And these different people will easily point at the people who have weapons and call them terrorists.

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Aydogan Vatandas / Editor-in-Chief
Aydogan Vatandas / Editor-in-Chief
Aydoğan Vatandaş is an investigative journalist from Turkey, specializing in Political Science and International Relations. He is the author of 13 books, many of which have become bestsellers in Turkey. 'Reporting from the Bridge' and 'Hungry for Power: Erdogan's Witch Hunt and The Abuse of State Power' are the first two books published in English in the U.S
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