“The gang Osmanen Germania is said to have played a role in this plot. It was believed that they at one point were given the order to execute the killings. No one got killed in the end. According to our information it was made clear to those suspected to be part of the murder-plot that the authorities had found out what they were planning to do,” Radio Sweden reported.
Osmanen Germania was formed in Germany and has grown quickly in recent years. It retains close ties to Turkey’s ruling AKP and the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT). In mid-2016 they established a chapter in Denmark. Radio Sweden said they have not been able to confirm if it was German or Danish members of the gang who were supposed to have been involved in the plot.
According to the report, the majority of members of Osmanen Germania are of Turkish origin. Several, including one of the founders, also have a background in criminal motorcycle clubs. And traditional biker gangs, such as the Hells Angels or the Bandidos, they also wear vests and have a strong hierarchical organization. In interviews, leading members of Osmanen refute this. They call themselves a “boxing club.” However, in rap videos published on YouTube, they portrait themselves as villains and act out many criminal clichés.
“According to German prosecutors it is not only acting. A trial is currently taking place in Stuttgart, against eight of the leading members. The charges include: attempted murder, assault, procurement, blackmail, illegal restraint and narcotics-related crimes. In recent years there have been many journalistic investigations into the gang’s close relations to the Turkish ruling elite. They have been described as Erdoğan’s international army,” said the report.
In December 2017, the German TV-channel ZDF’s program Frontal 21, along with the newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten, revealed that the group received big donations from politician Metin Külünk, who holds a senior position in the Turkish ruling AKP and holds a seat in the Turkish parliament. Külünk is described as a close friend of President Erdoğan and is the party’s deputy spokesperson for foreign affairs. The money Külünk reportedly handed over to members of Osmanen (in a cosmetics studio in Berlin) was, according to the report, used for the purchase of weapons.
Telephone interceptions leaked from the German security services indicated, according to Stuttgarter Nachrichten and ZDF, that Külünk also gave the criminal gang orders to punish people critical of the Turkish government. TV-satirist Jan Böhmermann had to be taken to a safe house. There were also recorded conversations where Külünk was said to have ordered assaults on political Kurds, and he urged the Osmanen members to film the beatings. The films were later supposed to be used in Turkey “as a deterrent” to people opposed to the government.
Media reports also show close links to the AKP’s international lobby organization, the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD). Among other things, UETD and Osmanen Germania have participated in the same conference in the Turkish summer resort of Antalya.
“In retrospect, we are deeply surprised and shocked by what [an] extensive network we have been able to map, and I am convinced that this network aims to fundamentally destroy the democratic and rule-of-law order that we are upholding,” said Franz Feyder, reporter for Stuttgart Nachrichten.
But although the newspaper and the TV channel have published convincing reports about how Osmanen Germania has been ordered by Turkish politicians to execute many political crimes, no one has yet been charged for that.
According to Feyder there doesn’t seem to be any political will in Germany to prosecute anyone for these crimes. “All the material that we have access to has been evaluated by experienced lawyers. They have confirmed that it is enough to prosecute on political grounds. Why that does not happen is a mystery. We do not know why,” he said.
Radio Sweden reminded that Osmanen Germania leader Mehmet Bağcı and other members of Osmanen have been photographed together with Külünk. There is also a photograph of Bağcı with President Erdoğan’s top political advisor, İlnur Çevik. Çevik is wearing a T-shirt with Osmanen Germania symbols on it.