A US law firm that represented the US President Donald Trump’s business interests in the past has taken up the representation of Turkish and Georgian nationals who are believed to be wrongfully jailed in Angola in a plot that implicated Turkish government’s intelligence services.
In letters addressed to ambassadors of Angola in New York and Washington DC as well as to Luanda Provincial Court, the law firm Gerstman Schwartz and Malito LLC asked Angolan authorities to immediately release their clients from the prison and share all the information about their case.
Long-time Angola residents, Turkish national İbrahim Gökhan Karadöl (36) and Georgian national Eljan Tushdiev (29), were convicted of terrorism by Luanda court in a suicide bombing attack aboard a civilian passenger jet in Mogadishu on Feb 2, 2016 that forced the plane to land with a gaping hole on its fuselage.
Both men were accused of facilitating the purchase of the ticket used by Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a Somalia national who boarded a plane with a bomb hidden in a laptop which exploded at 11,000 feet.
However, it was later revealed that the reservation was in fact made by an İstanbul-based Turkish travel company called Mirza Tur which is alleged to have been working with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) for years.
The PNR (passenger name record) code for the bomber’s ticket was generated by Mirza Tur that received the initial order from the client and later forwarded to an Angolan travel company Eurostral Limitada to process the ticket based on the reservation details. Karadöl and Tushdiev were simply forwarding dozens of PNR codes from Mirza Tur to Eurostral Limitada in exchange for commissions and profit from exchange rates and they had no idea that one PNR code, sent along with many reservation codes, was avtually belonging to the bomber.
Turkish government has refused to cooperate with Angolan authorities who wanted to investigate Mirza Tur and its owners and declined to respond to repeated inquiries to that effect, according to Angolan police officer who was involved in the investigation. Angolan authorities have also not charged Eurostral Limitada that issued the ticket after the payment was done.
Karadöl and Tushdiev appear to have been made a scapegoat in a plot that they had no idea it linked to Turkish government circles. They denied charges during the hearings and asked for a thorough investigation into Turkish company that made the reservation in Istanbul.
SCF has done an extensive investigation into the case and published a detailed article on May 18, 2017 that was titled
“Did Turkey’s Intel Have Anything To Do With A Bomb Attack On Jetliner?”.
The bombing was also covered by the report submitted to the United Nations Security Council by the Chair of the Security Council Committee on October 7, 2016 as part of its monitoring on Somalia and Eritrea. The report sounded alarm bells by saying that “while Al-Shabaab used an improvised explosive device concealed in a laptop in at least one known previous attack in Mogadishu in November 2013, this is the first known case in which it directly targeted an aircraft.”
The UN report concluded that “the attack also demonstrated important connections between Al-Shabaab and certain international actors” and said the findings of the Monitoring Group on the attack are kept strictly confidential.
The US law firm asked Angolan officials to share all the information and evidence with respect to the case of their clients.
As a background note on the law firm, Bradley L. Gerstman of Gerstman Schwartz & Malito LLP said the firm had represented the US President Donal Trump’s business interests before and advised him during the presidential campaign.
June 12, 2017