German media reported on Wednesday that Metin Külünk, a henchman of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy, gave order to the Turkish gang “Osmanen Germania – Ottomans Germania” and the Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD) to punish German TV presenter and comedian Jan Böhmermann over his alleged insult in a show targeting Erdoğan.
German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten wrote on Wednesday that Böhmermann has been targeted by the Ottomans Germania, a Germany-based Turkish gang which is a staunch supporter of Erdoğan and the Erdoğan confidants, including Metin Külünk, ordered the thugs for punishment of the ZDF presenter.
Deutsche Welle (DW) also reported on Thursday that in one tapped phone conversation, Külünk urged the former head of the UETD in Mannheim, Yılmaz Ilkay Arın, to get Osmanen Germania to punish German comedian Jan Böhmermann for his controversial poem criticizing Erdoğan.
“Osmanen Germania” describes itself as a boxing club and “brotherhood,” but authorities have long suspected it of being involved in criminal activity and violence. It is estimated to have 20 chapters and 2,500 members in Germany.
The Stuttgarter Nachrichten reported that the network of Erdoğan-related Turkish gang in Germany also turned against the ZDF presenter Böhmermann last year and Böhmermann was targeted by both the gang of Ottoman Germania, Erdoğan’s AKP and its extension in Europe, Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD).
According to a report, German police determined a phone call made by Yılmaz İlkay Arın, then acting chairman of the UETD in the Mannheim, to a Turkish migrants living in Germany. During the conversation, he made it clear that he accepted the orders given by an Erdoğan’s friend and AKP deputy Külünk. “My boss is Metin Külünk. I do what he tells me,” he said.
The report has also said that, at 16:33 on April 6, 2016, Külünk reportedly telephoned a member of the UETD in Germany. The man had asked Külünk to mobilize more UETD supporters to file criminal charges against Jan Böhmermann for insulting Erdoğan.
According to the report, the German security investigators come to a conclusion that “The orders to the Ottoman Germania group illustrates the intentions of the Turkish government to influence the media landscape, freedom of speech and press in Germany, among other purposes, with the active support of the UETD and the thugs of the Ottomans Germania.”
Basing on the German security agencies’ intelligence reports and wiretaps, Stuttgarter Nachrichten wrote that Yılmaz İlkay Arın and Mehmet Bağcı, the head of the Ottomans Germania gang and his men were to “carry out a punitive action with a critic of the Turkish President” on April 1, 2016.
It was interpreted by German intelligence that that critic is the ZDF presenter Jan Böhmermann, whose late-night satire show “Neo Magazine Royale” the day before assessed by Erdoğan’s fanatics as an insult to “Reis” which refers to the Turkish President Erdoğan. It was claimed in the report that Arın and Bağcı were given an order to punish Böhmermann.
According to the report, Arın called four days later again and wanted to know what is his assignment and take an order to investigate the ZDF moderator. Therefore he already knows where Böhmermann lives in Cologne, he found out his exact address from a contact named the “Uncle.”
German investigators assume that the codeword “Uncle” meant a contact with the police. However, German police has not determined the identity of this contact yet. The German security authorities warned Böhmermann to hide and he was protected by police.
In another phone call, he demanded that Yılmaz Ilkay Arın arm the Turks in Germany. In the call Arın says he has a stash of “clean” guns and ammunition.
According to a report by Der Spiegel, Külünk was also accused of “apparently giving money to the group to buy weapons several times.” Underlining Metin Külünk’s close relations with President Erdoğan, the German magazine reported that Külünk has established close ties with the German-Turkish gang “Ottoman Germania.”
The “Osmanen Germania – Ottomans Germania” gang was organized in 2014 under the guise of a boxing club, and has been on the agenda in Germany for a while. The gang is infamous for arms smuggling, human trafficking, drugs and attacks on Kurds and has grown fast, increasing membership and branch numbers.
It has since come to light that the Erdoğan government is behind this increase. The German media has released documents and information on the gang, stating that they act under the Külünk’s orders and are loyal to the Erdoğan regime. Külünk is just a bridge between the gang and Erdoğan. In phone calls caught by German security forces, Metin Külünk receives orders for the gang directly from Erdoğan.
NRW State Office for the Protection of the Constitution Chairperson Burkhard Freier spoke about the issue and stressed that the Turkish gang Osmanen Germania is a paramilitary organisation, and they are “prone to violence.”
Freier pointed out that the Osmanen Germania call themselves a boxing club and said that “For us, the Osmanen Germania working as security guards, carrying guns, engaging in violent crimes and clashing with other groups show that they are a paramilitary group. Their political agenda also strengthens this impression.”
According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency, a German intelligence officer pointed out that the Osmanen Germania has a nationalist ideology and said that “The Osmanen Germania participate in the Turkish government’s demonstrations and are responsible for security there. For instance, they take care of security for the UETD – known for their ties to the Turkish state.”
According to NRW state, the Osmanen Germania work together with Turkish security forces. Freier said that “There are implications that Turkish state representatives have met with Osmanen Germania leaders Mehmet Bağcı and Selçuk Şahin. For instance AKP deputy Metin Külünk, who was given the task to unite the Turkish state and Turks in the diaspora, and Presidential Advisor İlnur Çevik have met with Osmanen Germania members. That shows that the Turkish government approves of Osmanen Germania’s goals.”
The DW reported that, in June 2016, specialists from the Hamburg criminal office observed Kulunk personally hand Bağcı two envelopes in Berlin. The envelopes were believed to be full of money. Moments later Kulunk called Erdogan and organized protests against the Armenian genocide resolution in the German parliament. Osmanen Germania participated in the protests. The police investigations suggest Osmanen Germania has contact with the UETD.
Külünk had given a speech in October 2016 at an event organized by the Swiss branch of UETD in Hoss Hotel in Winterthour, Switzerland and admitted that the Turkish government is targeting the opposition from Turkey in Europe. Külünk had said:
“Wherever the members of these organizations run to, this state will chase after them. This is not like writing stuff on Facebook pages. If they have the guts, they will come and write those things in Turkey. They will sit here and write things against Turkey – do you think they are not monitored? Don’t worry, they are all being followed. This is a duty, a state does not let go of those who betray the state. This shows the grandeur of the state. These people sit around in Basel, Zurich, Winterthour and write things against Turkey, hold meetings here and there. And Turkey is not supposed to follow them? They hold meetings here, they buy hotels, and the state is not supposed to follow them? No way.”
Phone taps have also indicated that Kulunk instructed Turks in Germany to “hit Kurds over the head with sticks,” film the act and provide videos to the Turkish state to be used as a “deterrent” against Erdoğan’s critics.
According to the DW report, German authorities have for some time worried about conflict between the Ottoman Germania and Bahoz (Storm), a rival Kurdish gang.
In November last year, raids had been carried out against the Osmanen Germania in several cities on orders by the Darmstadt Prosecutor’s Office under the Hessen State Criminal Bureau’s lead. Large amounts of drugs and weapons were seized in the raids and several people had been arrested.
According to report, the gang acted as a branch of the AKP and was organzied by the MİT. During a raid on November 9, 2016, a police officer spoke to German press and stated that they were in possession of documents that showed the possibility of the Osmanen Germania having ties to Turkish intelligence units and using the weapons they had procured against Kurds in Germany.
In May, it had come to light that the leaders of Osmanen Germania wanted in Germany had fled to Turkey. Around the same time, photographs had surfaced showing the Osmanen Germania gang’s relationship with some top ranking Turkish state officials. In these photographs, a group including gang leader Selçuk Can Şahin are seen visiting Erdoğan’s Chief Advisor İlnur Çevik in his office while Çevik is wearing a t-shirt with the group’s logo on it.
According to DW, Külünk did not respond to the German media requests for comment, but in a series of tweets he lambasted “fictional reports” and threats against Turks living in Europe. He also condemned threats and repression against “civil society” organizations in Germany.
“Everybody knows Germany’s open and hidden support for PKK and the FETÖ. The German deep state’s media operations are futilely trying to target me and Turkish civil society organizations to cover up their support for terrorist groups,” Külünk wrote in one of 16 tweets on the allegations. “FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement.
UETD has also condemned the Frontal 21 and Stuttgarter Nachrichten investigation as not reflecting the truth and amounting to “slander.” “We view this program as part of a campaign to denounce UETD and which seeks to legally marginalize and silence the critical voice of the Turkish community,” UETD claimed in a statement.
According to DW, Osmanen Germania has repeatedly denied media accusations against the group on its Facebook page. It says that detained people such as Bağcı are not members, that the group no longer has a president or vice president, and that it has undergone restructuring.