Turkey Watch

Watching the Turkish nail being put into Europian coffin.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

COURT ENDS ASSET FREEZE OF AL-QAEDA LINKED FINANCIER

From Andkronos International

Istanbul, 21 July (AKI) - Turkish Council of State, the country's top court, has overturned a order from Turkey's previous government to seize the assets of a suspected al-Qaeda financier, Yasin Al-Qadi. The ruling on Thursday could jeopardise Washington's efforts to gain Turkish's assistance in co-ordinating its fight against terrorism.

The previous Turkish government, at the request of the United States, had ordered the seizure of the assets of al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman and reputed al-Qaeda financier, following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Al-Qadi allegedly has had business links with Cuneyd Zapsu, one of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top advisers.

The court's decision came two weeks after Erdogan defended al-Qadi as a "philanthropist."

"I know Mr. Yasin and I believe in him as I believe in myself," Erdogan told private NTV television in an interview on July 11.

"It is not possible for Mr. Yasin to establish ties with a terrorist organization and support it. ... He is a person who has no specialty other than being a philanthropist," he said.

The previous Turkish government had issued a Cabinet decree to freeze the assets of al-Qadi and another suspected al-Qaeda financier in December 2001.

Erdogan's spokesman Akif Beki two weeks ago said that the prime minister would not change his opinion on al-Qadi, which was based on their personal acquaintance, until it was proven otherwise.

Beki said the list of suspected financiers of terrorism issued by the U.N. Security Council was not based on any court decision, noting that being included on the list did not necessarily mean they were guilty.

Beki noted that the reason why the list was constantly updated was because individuals on the list were found innocent, adding that they knew that al-Qadi had applied to the U.N. Security Council to be removed from the list.

The Turkish Police Department said last Friday al-Qadi was banned from entering the country because of an order issued by the previous government, but noted that they had no documents or evidence against him.

The Turkish media has accused Erdogan's government of blocking an investigation into reported money transfers to al-Qadi in the late 1990s by one of his top advisers, Cuneyd Zapsu.

The main opposition, strictly secular Republican People's Party (CHP) last week filed a criminal complaint against eight people, including al-Qadi, Cuneyd Zapsu, Abdulaziz Zapsu (a relative of Cuneyd Zapsu), Mustafa Latif Topbas (a conservative businessman and relative of the Istanbul Mayor), Mehmet Fatih Sarac (Qadi’s business partner), Ibrahim Halit Cizmeci (Qadi’s business partner), Wael Julaidan (Qadi’s business partner) and Gaye Zapsu (Zapsu’s mother) for laundering money and financing terrorism.

The assets of al-Qadi, who heads the Saudi-based Muwafaq Foundation, have been frozen by the European Union.

U.S. Treasury officials allege the organization he heads is an al-Qaeda front used to funnel millions of dollars to the global terror organization,

A report - compiled by Turkey's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) in 2004- says that Zapsu, in 1997 transferred 60,000 US dollars to the al-Qadi’s Muwaffaq Foundation. A 250,000 dollar transfer was also made by Zapsu's mother to the foundation in 1999 according to the report.

The court’s decision today could be appealed by the orime ministers office, the finance ministry or the foreign ministry within 30 days.

1 Comments:

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