Reports from multiple sources revealed links between a senior advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a terrorist organization that is closely related to Al-Qaeda.
Hamza Yerlikaya, a chief advisor to Erdogan, who is the member of the board of Vakifbank, the country’s third largest state-owned bank, was involved with a terrorist group called, the Islamic Great East Raiders Front (IBDA/C), Nordic Monitor news website said in a report.
According to an investigation conducted by the website, “Yerlikaya, a former Olympic wrestler, was photographed in October 1995 making a gun hand gesture in IBDA-C style, a typical symbolic display adopted by the terrorist group to send a message, after winning the 1995 World Wrestling Championship in Prague.”
The Turkish Railways Authority dismissed Yerlikaya from his work after his photo was published in the magazine of the terrorist group.
The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The man’s photo was frequently used by IBDA-C militants to explain how sports would look under the Islamic state that would be established with an armed struggle, the report underlined.
It added that Osman Temiz Öksüzoğlu, a gym teacher at a religious high school, who was jailed on terrorism charges, wrote an article in August 1999 from his prison cell for Akademya, another publication of the IBDA-C, featuring Yerlikaya’s picture at the wrestling championship.
The website noted that Erdogan brought Yerlikaya to parliament in 2007 within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and later made him deputy minister of the Youth and Sports Ministry. In 2015, he was named as a chief advisor to the president.