Ahmet Şık: The Army of the Imam
On 3 March 2011 eleven people were detained in Istanbul and Ankara, including the journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener. On 6 March they and another seven people were arrested on the allegation they were members of the secret organization Ergenekon. On or around 23 March Istanbul Heavy Penal Court 12 ordered the confiscation of a draft for a book that Ahmet Şık wanted to publish under the title of "The Army of the Imam". Offices of media units were raided and drafts of the book were deleted from computers. Despite the threat to charge anybody found in possession of a copy with supporting an illegal organization on 1 April 2011 unknown people made the book available on the Internet.
The series of translated passages
- The Army of the Imam: Who are the Nurcus?
- The Army of the Imam: Who is Fethullah Gülen?
- The Army of the Imam: Infiltrating the Police
- The Army of the Imam: Trial of the Gülden Parish
- ... no translated passages between page 149 and 258
- The Army of the Imam: Avcı, Ergenekon and Epilogue
The reasons for the imprisonment of Ahmet Şık allegedly are not the contents of the book, but rather remarks of an unknown third person that in the judges' mind aim at affecting public opinion on an ongoing court case. The details on the Internet Portal Internethaber of 30 March 2011 are:
Ruling on the objection of Ahmet Şık's lawyers Bülent Utku and Akın Atalay the court stated: “There are concrete facts showing that the draft and the copies were prepared by a team as a project with the aim and instruction of the armed terror organization Ergenekon to steer the public and to affect a court case that was opened for this purpose.” Special emphasis was laid on the notes on pages 299, 301 and 302 of three drafts and page 189 of the draft that was confiscated during the search of OdaTV.
The current situation was described at Hudson New York of 28 March 2011:
The printing house, İthaki, was the publisher that owned the rights to "İmamın Ordusu" (The Army of the Imam), an unpublished book by journalist Ahmet Şık, who was arrested two weeks ago. The book was found in digital form on a computer at the office of the dissident online news portal OdaTV; Şık has stated he did not know how it got there.
His unpublished book deals with the alleged organization founded within the Turkish police by the Fethullah Gülen religious community. This fact has led to suspicions that Şık was arrested due to the book's contents, rather than his involvement in the alleged Ergenekon gang, which he has worked as a journalist to expose.
Ergenekon is an alleged ultranationalist, part of a shadowy gang accused of planning to topple the government by staging a coup, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem. Some believe it to be an extension of the "deep state," an alleged shadow organization of bureaucracy and military within the state whose existence was voiced by people including presidents but for which an exact definition has never been made.
Contents of the book
A short summary of the book (translated from Posta of 29 March 2011 can be:
Since 3 March, when the police raided the house of Ahmet Şık everybody asks what the book contains. Ertuğrul Mavioğlu tries to give a reply. In the introduction the relationship between the State and Islam is explained. The strengthening of Islam by the junta of 12 September 1980 is stressed.
The book does not only explain the conformity of the Gülen parish during that time. For once Fethullah Gülen had been a member of the Association to Fight Communism. Therefore, an interview with Mehmet Kutlular from the daily New Asia (Yeni Asya) is given at length. The book continues to express that the same parish was launched as an alternative to the Welfare Party after the 28 February operation.
In the book there are long passages on the life of Fethullah Gülen. This kind of information already existed in many articles and books. Yet, there are further details on the conflict with Necmettin Erbakan and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHPNationalist Movement Party ). The book also presents confessions of one of the founders of the Akyazılı Foundation that in 1966 became the basis for the establishment of the parish. It is also explained how Gülen developed schools and made use of certain media institutions.
Relating to the governments of the Justice and Development Party (AKPJustice and Development Party ) the fast organization of the Gülen parish in the bureaucracy is explained. The question is asked whether the parish is the armed unit of the police. The allegation is that the parish made the police schools, the intelligence, the units for organized crime and for personnel their ceiling. This is also the reason for the title of the book.
According to the book the infiltration started with the personnel department. There are many details on how police officers close to the parish were promoted and others were appointed to distant places. For all these allegations names are mentioned. There are also details on how a conspiracy against police officers such as Hanefi Avcı, Sabri Uzun, İsmail Çalışkan, Celalettin Cerrah and Emin Aslan was organized.
One possible reason that people might have been disturbed by the book are details on officers involved in the investigation of the killing of Hrant Dink. In addition, there are details on persons leading the investigation of the Ergenekon case.
The book on the Internet
Since 1 April 2011 the Turkish version of the book was made available on several sites with download facilities such as 2shared.com. This draft has 298 pages with a few introductory words of those people who uploaded this pfd-file. The remarks that the court interpreted as “instructions of an organization” look rather as suggestions for improvement. Examples are:
- newspaper clips could be added (page 31)
- in order to stress the changes in statements during the Ergenekon phase one could place him saying “there is something strange about it” (page 32)
- does this create a legal problem? (page 36)
There are no directives at the end of the draft that was circulated via the Internet, while journalist Aydın Engin confirmed that the copy circulated on the Internet was identical to the copy in his possession. The author and the persons that uploaded the files have some additional remarks on legal steps taken so far and how the book could be finalized.
Despite the arguments of prosecutors and judges in Istanbul it may well be that the contents of the book (names that were mentioned) triggered such a reaction. The DTFDemocratic Turkey Forum is in no position to make a full and literal translation of the draft. This would also not be in the interest of the reader, drawn into so much details that the general line might get lost. Yet, it may be useful to present passages of it. This will be done with some restructuring because remarks on certain issues are made (sometimes repeated) in various places in the book.
- Article on Hanefi Avcı in Hürriyet of 1 October 2010.