The caches of weapons included at least 30,000 guns and 10,000 rifles and were bound for Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Turkish police have stormed an illegal arms manufacturing factory in
the central Anatolian province of Konya, seizing 4,500 guns and
detaining two dozen suspects believed to be involved in the production
and shipment of the arms to Middle Eastern countries.
Last fall, Yemeni authorities confiscated boxes of ammunition
originating from Turkey in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. Officials
seized 3,000 pistols found in biscuit boxes inside a container that came
Turkey then said it is out of the question to authorize arms exports
to a region with high-level risk of conflict resulting in the deaths of
more people. Turkish authorities launched an investigation after the
incident in Aden and security forces soon spotted an illegal arms
factory in the Beyşehir district of Konya, which was involved in the
shipment of at least 35,000 guns to the Middle Eastern countries.
There was a similar incident in March 2011 when the customs authority
of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seized arms bound for Yemen from
Turkey by sea. It remains unclear who ordered the shipment.
Police identified Kadir T., 49, as the owner of the arms factory and
had begun surveillance of him and the arms smuggling ring he had
allegedly been coordinating since November of last year.
During the period of surveillance, the weapons manufactured in the
factory were sent via cargo and export companies in private vehicles in
10 separate shipments hidden in biscuit boxes, electrical equipment and
furniture. The arms originating from the factory in Beyşehir were sent
to İstanbul, Hakkari, Şanlıurfa, Mersin, Adana, Balıkesir and Antalya
The caches of weapons included at least 30,000 guns and 10,000 rifles
and were bound for Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
Turkish police recently intercepted a Syria-bound arms shipment in
Şanlıurfa, a southern Turkish province on the Syrian border, before they
reached the war zone across the frontier, where clashes have killed at
least 110,000 people, mostly civilians.
Following a lengthy pursuit of the arms smugglers, police raided the
arms factory in Beyşehir on Monday as well as addresses in İstanbul,
Hakkarı, Şanlıurfa, Mersin, Adana, Balıkesir and Antalya. A total of 25
suspects were detained during the police operations, mostly in the
neighborhood of Üzümlü in Beyşehir. The owner of the arms factory, who
is also believed to be behind the shipments of arms caches, was also
detained in Beyşehir. Police seized at least 4,500 illegally
manufactured guns in the factory.
The suspects were taken to Beyşehir State Hospital and Konya
Education and Research Hospital for health checks then transferred to
the Konya Police Department for interrogation.
Turkey has been a haven of peace amid years of civil wars and
sectarian discord in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other nearby Middle
Eastern countries but recent indications suggest that Turkey is slowly
getting more involved in these conflicts. With the bloody civil war
mounting in neighboring Syria along with ongoing violence in Iraq,
Turkey has been negatively affected in the past few years, with several
car bombs killing scores in border areas.
Media reports have indicated that Turkey is a major Gulf-financed
arms shipment hub for Syrian opposition fighters as fighting escalates
in the war-torn country. Syrian opposition officials recently told
Reuters that 400 tons of arms had been sent into Syria from Turkey to
boost insurgent capabilities against Syrian government forces.
The source said the Gulf-financed shipment, which crossed from the
Turkish province of Hatay, was one of the single biggest to reach
opposition brigades since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad
turned violent over two years ago.
Turkish officials said they have no information about such a shipment.