Sledgehammer CDs not fabricated, say ‘cosmic room’ civil servants

FAT?H U?UR / SAL?H SARIKAYA,
?STANBUL
 


Photographs of the ‘cosmic room’ taken by civil servants in the 1st Army.

Contrary to earlier claims the Sledgehammer coup plan was fabricated and that the records of the 2003 military seminar were altered afterwards to discredit the armed forces, two civil servants who worked at the 1st Army at the time said the CDs in which the suspected coup plan is found are original, adding they prepared the CDs themselves upon orders of military higher-ups. The CDs were kept in a military facility dubbed the “cosmic room” in Ankara where top secret army documents are archived.
According to civil servants Melek Üçtepe and Sivilay Erkani Bulut, who testified to a military prosecutor in February and March of last year about the Sledgehammer plan, they prepared 19 CDs that included all of the details of the military seminar shortly after it was over, and the CDs were kept in the cosmic room for a long time. Though they testified in 2009, the details have only recently come to light.
The Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan mentions a systematic plan by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to create chaos in society by bombing mosques and attacking popular museums with Molotov cocktails. The desired result was to increase pressure on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government over failing to provide security to its citizens. The attacks were to eventually lead to a military coup.
The plan was drawn up in 2003 and discussed in a seminar held at the General Staff’s Selimiye barracks in March of that year. The General Staff has denied that the Sledgehammer plot was the subject of a seminar, saying they had no record of such an incident and defended itself by claiming that the Sledgehammer plan was merely a war game.
The General Staff also said that the records of the Selimiye seminar, held March 5-7, 2003, were destroyed after being kept on file in the cosmic room for four years.
A criminal examination of the CDs by ?stanbul police showed that fingerprints found on the CDs belong to Üçtepe and Bulut.
Speaking to military prosecutor Col. Bülent Münger, the two civil servants said they prepared the CDs themselves. According to them, all 19 CDs were stored in the cosmic room shortly after the 2003 military seminar finished. “We recorded all word documents, folders and power point slides prepared during the seminar on the CDs,” the two told the prosecutor.
The two also said the user name of the CDs was their own registration number for retirement. “The CD [11] that showed a note as K. Özel was supposed to be presented to the head of the 1st Army,” Bulut noted. The note was most probably referring to as “special for the commander.” The 1st Army was being led by retired Gen. Çetin Do?an at the time.
Do?an is currently a prime suspect in the Sledgehammer coup case. There are 195 other suspects in the case, all retired and active duty members of the military. Prosecutors are seeking up to 20 years in prison for Do?an on charges of a failed attempt to overthrow the government and destroy Parliament.
Üçtepe and Bulut also told the military prosecutor that only certain people were allowed to enter the cosmic room as security measures were very high. “Only Süha Tanyeri, the former head of the General Staff’s Strategic Research and Study Center [SAREM], [retired Col.] Bülent Tunçay, [Capt.] Tanju Poshor, and we two were allowed to enter the cosmic room,” they noted.
The testimony by Üçtepe and Bulut refutes earlier claims that the Sledgehammer coup plan was fabricated and later added to the CDs. According to the claims, the main intention was to discredit the armed forces in the eyes of the nation.
A major at the cosmic room, who was also interrogated by the military prosecutor, verified the testimony of Üçtepe and Bulut about the high security measures at the cosmic room. According to the major, identified as Ahsen Süren, the cosmic room had a main room that could be opened only with a special code for the entrance. “This is a barred door. Only three people have keys to the door. Two are military officers, and the other one is the chief of the plan and operation department [of the military],” Süren added.
After the emergence of claims that the Sledgehammer coup plan was fabricated, civilian prosecutors investigating the suspected coup plot forwarded the documents to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜB?TAK) for analysis. The analysis was supposed to prove whether or not the suspected coup documents are genuine. A report drafted by the council in June of last confirmed that the Sledgehammer CDs were prepared in 2003 and were not added to afterwards.
‘1st Army worked late at night before military seminar’
Bulut also told the military prosecutor that he worked at the 1st Army between 1998 and 2004. For him, officers at the army worked late at night before the military seminar was held in 2003.
“There were preparations for the seminar at the army. Officers worked until 3 or 4 in the morning before the seminar was held. Studies carried out during the seminar were compiled in files and folders and were later recorded in CDs,” Bulut stated. He also said Tanyeri and Do?an also contributed to the preparations.
The folders and CDs prepared after the seminar were kept for some time in the cosmic room. He said he did not witness a military destruction of documents at the cosmic room between 2003 and 2004.
‘Voice documents of Sledgehammer plan also stored’
In addition, Bulut said voice recordings of the 2003 military seminar were also stored for some time.
“Speeches and dialogues during the seminar were recorded in voice recordings. The recordings arrived and were stored in the [cosmic] room along with other documents,” he noted.
He also said he remembers seeing a document titled “Other churches and synagogues” among all other documents.
Bulut was most probably talking about a suspected link between deadly terrorist attacks in ?stanbul in 2003, which targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate General and an HSBC bank. Four retired generals were questioned about the suspected link in late February of last year. A civilian prosecutor asked the retired generals whether highly destructive bomb attacks in ?stanbul in 2003 were part of the Sledgehammer plan.
More than 50 people were killed in the bombings, and as many as 700 were injured. Al-Qaeda terrorists claimed responsibility for the attacks.


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