Memet Gezer, extradited from the United States recently, explained his ties to the Syrian intelligence to Turkish investigators and told them how Syria sought to “exact vengeance” on Turkey for its opposition to the Bashar Assad regime.
Gezer, who was captured in Montenegro in 2016 and extradited to the United States on separate charges, is accused of being one of the masterminds of the 2013 bombings in the southern Turkish town of Reyhanlı.
In his first statement to the investigators, Gezer confessed that soldiers loyal to the Assad regime planned the attacks for vengeance and remote-controlled explosives used in the attack were detonated by a member of Syrian intelligence, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.
The suspect said he was a businessperson and a fraudster back in Syria and had close ties with the regime’s military officers. It was during his time in Syria that Gezer was introduced to Mihraç Ural, one of the most wanted terrorists in Turkey. He later came in touch with “Col. Kifah Melhem,” Latakia branch director of Syria’s al-Mukhabarat intelligence service, Gezer told investigators. “I met Melhem in February 2013 in his office and he told me that he learned from “Damascus” that a terror attack would be carried out in Turkey as “revenge.” “He told me that they organized a group in Turkey and he was glad I would be joining them. I told him I was not aware of that,” he said. Gezer said he tried to alert Turkish authorities about the attack.
He claimed he met Yusuf Nazik, the imprisoned perpetrator behind the attacks on Mihraç Ural’s residence in Latakia and one day later, he was introduced to a man in military uniform by Melhem. “His name was Muhammad Ali and he asked me what we could do for him. I was accompanied by (another suspect) Temir Dükkancı and he told me he could find a stolen car in Turkey and plant bombs in it. When we met Ali again, he introduced us to Nasır Eskiocak (another suspect). They talked about attack plans. Ali later sent others to do recce in Turkey. They surveyed Konya and (the capital) Ankara,” he said.
Gezer said explosives were smuggled into Turkey by sea and their primary target was either Konya or Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara. He also said that two Syrian intelligence officers carried explosives to the coast, where two other suspects loaded into a boat. “Ali asked us about the distance between Syria, Konya and Ankara and then ordered Nasır Eskiocak to carry out the attack in Reyhanlı or Cilvegözü as they were closer to Syria. He said “Hıdır,” one of the intelligence officers, remotely detonated the bombs and Yusuf Nazik and Muhammad Ali hugged each other after the explosions. He also said Ali gifted a rifle to Nazik and a wristwatch to him for accomplishing the mission.
He also claimed Yusuf Nazik and Muhammad Ali were behind the intelligence’s next “plot,” two car bombings in Lebanon’s Tripoli in 2013.