How Spies From Turkish Intelligence Agency, Milli Istihbarat Teşkilati (MIT), Kidnapped Exiled Cleric's Nephew in Nairobi
Turkish intelligence officials have revealed they kidnapped and flew home the nephew of an exiled cleric accused of leading a coup in the country.
Mr Selahaddin Gulen, a nephew of influential billionaire cleric Fetullah Gulen, was abducted early last month on his way to clear his name of criminal charges at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters off Kiambu Road in Nairobi.
After a whole month of silence and speculation that Mr Gulen had been kidnapped by Kenyan security agencies, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) said they were behind the kidnapping of the younger Gulen.
Mr Selahaddin had been battling plans to extradite him to Turkey on allegations that he was wanted for child molestation.
His family, however, insisted he was being targeted due to his ties to his uncle, Mr Fetullah Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who fled to the United States after being accused of leading a 2016 coup in his home country.
The younger Gulen had even filed a case at the Kiambu Law Courts challenging his extradition.
The ruling is, however, yet to be delivered, although temporary orders had been issued directing the Kenyan government to put on hold any plans of taking him back to Turkey.
On May 3, Mr Selahaddin was heading to the Nairobi Interpol office – located within the DCI headquarters along Kiambu road – hoping to clear a red notice that had been issued against him.
Apparently, somebody tipped Turkish intelligence officers, as his car was blocked just a stone’s throw away from the DCI headquarters before unknown men ordered him into another car and sped off.
“The Turkish intelligence nabbed a member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) abroad and brought him back to Turkey, a security source said on Monday,” Turkish state-run Anadolu News Agency (Ana) reported on Monday night.
“It was learned that Mr Selahaddin Gulen, who is a relative of FETO’s ringleader Fetullah Gulen, fled abroad with the help of the terror group’s covert structure,” reported Ana.
Mr Selahaddin arrived in Kenya on a tourist visa on October 17 last year. He was arrested less than 48 hours after arrival and arraigned, then released on bail pending extradition proceedings against him.
It now appears he knew the Turkish government wanted him extradited but not because of child molestation. This is according to an affidavit he filed at the Kiambu Law Courts, which the Nation has seen.
“The real motive behind the issuance of the Red notice is that, in 2016, there was a failed coup attempt in Turkey. It is suspected one Fetulla Gulen (my uncle) may have supported the coup.
“Turkish authorities, therefore, opened a crackdown on all persons who were directly or indirectly related to the said Fetullah Gulen. All his relatives who were physically present in Turkey were arrested on fictitious criminal charges and are serving long prison sentences in Turkey,” Mr Selahaddin told the court.
Fetullah Gulen is the leader of the Gulen movement, a spiritual group with millions of followers across the world that claims to promote altruism, modesty and education.
The movement, which began in the late 80s and has over time morphed into an opposition force in Turkey, runs more than 100 schools across the world, including Kenya, where it operates the Light Academies. Turkey has been trying to force Kenya to shut down Light Academies for some time now in vain.
Mr Fetullah Gulen was first accused of orchestrating a coup in Turkey in 1980.
He was arrested after six years on the run in 1986 but was freed. He later escaped to the US in 2000 where he has remained ever since but he still remains an influential figure in his home country.
However, his Gulen movement – or Hizmet, as it is known in Turkey – was in May 2016 declared a terror organisation, prompting a global crackdown on its members.
Abdullah Ocalan’s capture.
Turkish authorities say Mr Selahaddin was not only a member of the group, but was – like his uncle – very influential too.
“He had escaped the country on the instructions of the terror group’s ringleader,” said MIT.
“He was brought back to Turkey in an operation conducted by the national intelligence,” Turkish intelligence was quoted by the Ana as saying.
The abduction of Mr Selahaddin mirrors the 1999 capture of Abdullah Ocalan, who was on top of the Turkish government’s list of wanted men and is said to have also been captured by MIT while on Kenyan soil.
Like in the Ocalan case, it is not known the role Kenyan authorities played as they have decided to keep mum on the matter.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, DCI boss George Kinoti and Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai had been summoned by Kiambu High Court Judge Mary Kasango to explain the whereabouts of Mr Selahaddin just after his disappearance. They never showed up.
A court order stopping his extradition was not honoured either.