Al-Qaeda leader’s last sermon cancelled by Turkish governor

Turkish ISIL leader Halis Bayancuk, also known as Abu Hanzala.

Ankara governor’s office cancelled the scheduled speech this Sunday by Turkish Al-Qaeda leader who has been freely preaching every Sunday morning for months and whose radical sermons were being broadcasted live on YouTube.

Halis Bayancuk, also known as Abu Hanzala, has been raising militants in Turkey and abroad not only for al-Qaeda but also for Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). Yet he was released from jail pending trial despite investigators believe he is the lead man for radical religious groups.

On March 24, 2016, the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court ruled to release Abu Hanzala and all the remaining defendants who were in pre-trial detention in an ISIL case in which 97 suspects were being tried. Bayancuk, who allegedly leads the ISIL-affiliated Tewhid group, was arrested in July 2015. The court ignored the overwhelming evidence incriminating Abu Hanzala whose network helped picked up Jihadists from an Istanbul airport and helped them travel to border provinces to cross into Syria. His three associates Enes Yelgün Hoca, Erdal Yaşar, and Mehmet Karlı were also let go.

The release of Hanzala and his thugs came five days after an ISIL suicide attacker blew himself up in İstanbul’s busy shopping avenue, İstiklal, in Taksim Square, killing three Israeli and one Iranian tourists.

Hanzala was also arrested as part of investigation into al-Qaeda Turkish network on Jan.14, 2014, in compliance with the Van Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and court-ordered arrest warrants. However, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, led by then Prime Minister and now president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stepped in to remove investigators and prosecutors of the case. The investigation was hushed-up, no indictment was filed and Abu Hanzala was eventually let go free on October 2014. Instead, police, prosecutors and judges involved in the prosecution of Abu Hanzala were later arrested on trumped up charges.

Radical preacher Abu Hanzala has been giving sermons since March 2016 when he got released, posting his radical preaches on YouTube, running own web site and publications. When a photo-shopped image of Abu Hanzala featuring in a billboard ad as the speaker of a panel in Ankara emerged in social media, the governor’s office came under pressure by the opposition to cancel his closed-door meeting that has been held every weekend at Abu Hanzala’a Tevhid group’s office in Turkish capital.

Angered by the cancellation, Abu Hanzala posted a video message on YouTube, threatening the government for what he called “succumbing to pressure from infidel secularists and Kemalists.” He also criticized his follower who posted the photo-shopped image of his Sunday’s sermon that elicited a strong response from the opposition in Turkey.

Feb. 26, 2017

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