A Turkish parliamentarian has provided money to a boxing gang in Germany to buy weapons, organise protests and go after critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, German media reported on Wednesday.
Metin Külünk, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and close confidant of Erdoğan, directly and indirectly provided money to the Turkish ultra-nationalist Osmanen Germania, according to research by Frontal 21, an investigative news program on public broadcaster ZDF and the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten.
The investigation was based on German police phone taps and surveillance of the group leaked to the news organisations. It suggests a relationship between Osmanen Germania and Külünk, as well as the Turkish intelligence agency MİT, the AKP's European lobby and Erdoğan himself.
German authorities have long suspected Osmanen Germania of being involved in criminal activity and violence. It is estimated to have 20 chapters and 2,500 members in Germany.
One of Külünk's main contacts was Mehmet Bağcı, the former head of Osmanen Germania who has been in pre-trial detention in Germany since 2016. Another key figure was the group's vice president, Selcuk Şahin, who is also detained. According to police investigations, Osmanen Germania was instructed by Külünk to go after Kurds and critics of Erdoğan living in Germany. He also allegedly organised protests against last year's Armenian genocide resolution passed by the German parliament.
GOING AFTER KURDS
Phone taps indicate that Külünk 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 Erdogan's critics.
Bağcı bragged of "very good contacts" who could put him in touch with the MİT intelligence agency and that his men could take care of "that PKK thing," referring to armed Kurdistan Workers' Party.
The "PKK thing" was an April 2016 Kurdish demonstration in Stuttgart that led to a massive brawl between Turks and Kurds, leaving some 50 German police injured.
According to German police investigations, Bağcı pledged to one of Erdoğan's chief advisors that he would fight on Turkey's behalf against "terrorists" in Germany.
German authorities have for some time worried about conflict between the Ottoman Germania and Bahoz (Storm), a rival Kurdish gang.
Moments later Külünk called Erdogan and organised protests against the Armenian genocide resolution in the German parliament. Osmanen Germania participated in the protests.
PROTEST, GUNS, PUNISHMENT
In June 2016, specialists from the Hamburg criminal office observed Külünk personally hand Bağcı two envelopes in Berlin. The envelopes were believed to be full of money.
The police investigations suggest Osmanen Germania has contact with the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), the AKP's external lobby group.
In one tapped phone conversation, Külünk urged the former head of the UETD in Mannheim, Yılmaz İlkay Arın, to get Osmanen Germania to punish German comedian Jan Böhmermann for his controversial poem criticising Erdoğan. Böhmermann was warned, put under police protection and spent several weeks outside of Germany.
In other phone conversations with Turks living in Germany, Arın encouraged them to arm themselves, saying that he could facilitate "clean" weapons. A police report also showed that Bağcı in June 2016 ordered 10 handguns from a Serbian living in Germany.
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" organisations in Germany.