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(ANF) Eva-Lena Jansson, an MP from the Swedish Social Democratic Party, has raised questions in the Swedish Parliament about the role Turkey may have played in the kidnapping of Syrian Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Metropolitan Boulous Yazigi in northern Syria on April 23rd of last year. The two men were abducted by an as yet unknown group and little information about them has been released since they disappeared.
Jansson brought attention to the two men, now missing for 9 months, and reminded her colleagues of EU spokeswoman Catherine Ashton’s demand that the two men be released immediately. Jannson’s remarks followed the publication of an article by Syrian journalist Dikran Ego in the Swedish journal Hujådå. In the article Ego reports, with documentation, that a man involved in the kidnapping was later arrested by Turkish police and continues to be in custody. Ego goes onto to claim that the kidnappings bear the fingerprint of the Turkish state.
Jansson went on to raise the question of why Turkey has made no official statement on the investigation and its relationship to the kidnappings, and said that she would ask the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to take up the issue with other EU ministers.
ISIS and Turkey
Dikran Ego published the article after speaking with Ekran Metin, a journalist who investigated the incident in its immediate aftermath. Metin begins by stating that cooperation between Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and radical opposition groups operating within Syria is widely known. Metin goes on to state that the two men were first kidnapped by a group of around 70 men, affiliated to the Islamic State or Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and under the command of a man called Abu Banat. Abu Banat is said to be from Dagestan and his birth name is reported to be Magomed Abdurrakmanov. Banat is reported to have arrived in the village of Meshhed near Aleppo and to have declared Sharia law. A Youtube video reported to be of Banat shows him to kill three people, and a news article on the official website of the Caucasian Emirate appeared briefly reporting that the religious leaders had been kidnapped by Banat.
Banat Secretly Arrested
Last year in July three men thought to be involved in the kidnappings were deported from Turkey. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry the men were deported over visa problems. However Metin claims that one of these men is Abu Banat, and that he was not reported but sent to Maltepe prison on July 4th. On July 19th Turkish Foreign Minister Davatoğlu stated that the two religious leaders were alive, but denied that Banat played a role and claimed that he was out of the country. According to Ego, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan made a similar statement last November to Syriac visitors and that the Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin had also confirmed the two men were alive during a meeting in a Greek Orthodox Church in the Hatay. However Ego arguest that Turkish authorities at the highest-level believe Banat killed the religious leaders and that documentary evidence exists to implicate Turkey in the kidnappings.
Turkey Will Not Prosecute Banat
Ego claims that through access to official documents that although the police have not spoken to Banat about the kidnappings, he has confessed to three videotaped murders. Moreover Ego reveals that Banat claims to have received a hand-held radio from a MİT (Turkish Intelligence) officer named as Ebu Cafer, and that a MİT report sent to Ankara on April 26th, 2013 concerning the kidnapping provides details on kidnapping and the subsequent transfer of the two men to El-Messhad Village near Aleppo. Furthermore it states that the MİT recorded the radio transmissions during the kidnapping operation.
Ego goes on to write that Turkey denies that it has any jurisdiction to prosecute Banat for the other murders committed in the village. Ego states, “Turkey knows that a jihadist-group under the command of Abu Banat kidnapped Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulous Yazigi. These people had relations with MİT and that they received supplies from MİT. According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice it is acceptable to kill people if done without harming Turkey.” Finally Ego asked how such a concept of justice would be acceptable within the EU.