Commanders kidnapped by Gülenist putschists during wedding on coup night
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJul 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jul 18, 2016 12:00 am
The Turkish Air Force command was at the wedding of the daughter of Lieutenant Gen. İlhan Şanver at the Moda Club in Kadiköy, Istanbul when Gülenist officers launched their coup attempt on Friday. Knowing that the entire top command of the Air Force was at a single location, the plotters sent a few Sikorsky helicopters full of soldiers to detain and kidnap the generals.
Once the reports about the coup start appearing in the media, the generals asked for a room to discuss the development. Unbeknownst to them, former Air Force Commander Gen. Akın Öztürk, who was suspiciously absent even though he was invited to the wedding, is suspected of heading the coup attempt. Last year, Öztürk was replaced by Gen. Abidin Ünal as commander of the Air Force and was supposed to retire from the military after next month's Supreme Military Board (YAŞ) meetings. According to reports, the Office of the Chief of General Staff was alerted by several officers about Öztürk's links to Gülenists and potential to launch a coup. Öztürk, together with his son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Hakan Karakuş, are suspected of being the chief plotters. They are believed to have been planning to appoint Öztürk as the chief of general staff if the coup had succeeded. The main planning center for the coup attempt was Ankara Akıncı Air Base, which was commanded by Karakuş.
Just as the generals were discussing what was happening, a Special Forces team arrived by helicopter and launched an operation at around 10 p.m. Friday night. Overwhelming the bodyguards of the generals with threats of bloodshed, the team detained all the commanders at once, while F-16s piloted by soldiers involved in the coup flew over the venue.
Ünal asked the soldiers who were handcuffing him who had given the orders. "I certainly did not give these orders," Ünal told the soldiers, according to reports. "This is the order I was given," was the response.
The commanders detained at the wedding were loaded into helicopters and taken to an undisclosed location. Ünal called his brother while he was detained to tell him he was fine.
He was rescued after an operation, and returned to his post Sunday. Öztürk and Karakuş were arrested at Akıncı Air Base.