New details show how Gülenist assassins failed to capture Erdoğan

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 15.08.2016 22:05
Updated 15.08.2016 22:06

New details revealed Monday how President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan averted an elite team of soldiers linked to Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on a mission to kill him on the night of July 15 coup attempt. Erdoğan was on vacation with his family at a hotel in the southwestern vacation resort of Marmaris when a Gülenist junta moved to seize power in the country. He said earlier that he left the hotel some 15 minutes before the heavily-armed coup officers stormed the hotel to capture or kill him. Security camera footage broadcast on A Haber shows a helicopter carrying Erdoğan and his entourage landing at Dalaman airport in Antalya, a city near Marmaris, after the president left the hotel upon learning the putsch attempt was underway.

Investigate journalist Abdurrahman Şimşek from Sabah newspaper who released the previously unseen security camera footage told A Haber how the president averted the team of assassins.

Erdoğan's helicopter lands minutes after soldiers in three military helicopters surround Ata, the presidential plane earlier flown from İzmir to take Erdoğan and others to a safe location. Security camera at the airport was supposed to show the runway where the plane landed but it was turned in another direction by coup forces who proceeded to storm the plane, hoping to find Erdoğan there. Erdoğan's helicopter hovered for a while before approaching the airport as the president and his entourage mulled their next steps in the ongoing coup attempt. Three military helicopters occupied by coup troops left for Marmaris, 15 minutes before Erdoğan's helicopter landed.

The FETÖ's coup plotters were determined to capture Erdoğan dead or alive, and as a high-ranking officer charged with the coup attempt told prosecutors after his capture, soldiers were sent to the Marmaris hotel, Dalaman airport and Okluk Cove, a possible flight route for Erdoğan. The president's helicopter pilot is also credited with Erdoğan's miracle escape, as he flew low in order not to be detected by radar. As the team of assassins left, Erdoğan and his entourage boarded the presidential plane but did not take off immediately. As the president was waiting inside the plane, coup soldiers raided the hotel and killed police guarding the site. When the presidential plane secretly left the international airport, coup troops were already surrendering. Two other airplanes took off the moment the presidential plane departed to confuse the coup forces.

Erdoğan then flew to Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, and amid overwhelming support from citizens who poured into the airport to protect him against possible intervention by coup troops, he entered the city.

His flight to Istanbul was not without risk, according to Turkish media outlets. Two F-16s piloted by coup soldiers harassed his plane while it was in the air and locked their radars on his plane, but the two fighter jets accompanying the presidential plane deterred them.

The entire team of assassins was captured while hiding near Marmaris after the coup attempt was quashed. One high-ranking officer still remains at large.

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