There has been a good deal of focus in the international press regarding the transport of oil originating from Islamic State held areas making its way across the Turkish border and through Turkish ports finding its way to ports from France (see Thierry Meyssan in Voltairenet) , to the Ukraine (see Laurent Courtois in Novorossia Today), and even to Japan (see William Engdahl in New Eastern Outlook), all of which is facilitated via the tankers of the BMZ Group, in which Bilal Erdoğan is an equal shareholder with two other partners.
Our post of March 9th – ISIS in Spain – raises the question of whether other items of interest may be transported by these tankers. The proximity of the Mecid Aslanov in early February to the seizure in Spanish ports of uniforms and other material allegedly intended for the use of ISIS and al Nusra militants (see also RT) raises the possibility that the ship was perhaps tasked to pick up the material, a task thwarted by Spanish police? – or had the cargo been delivered with the intent of bringing the war to the Iberian peninsula?
Thierry Meyssan notes that just prior to the Paris attacks of November 13, “the Mecid Aslanov, property of Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan’s BMZ Group, left the French port of Fos-sur-Mer on the 9th November 2015, having just delivered, in total impunity, a cargo of oil which it claimed had been extracted in Israël, but which in reality had been stolen by Daesh in Syria.” He does not raise the question however of whether the ship may have been delivering other items, perhaps of use in the attacks later that week.
Similarly, the question should be raised about the itinerary of another vessel in the BMZ Group fleet, the Poet Qabil, in the period leading up to the recent attacks in Brussels. On March 22, it was in the French port of Sete. Prior to this it had a period of irregular navigation, following a mid February stop in Gdansk and passage through the Kiel Canal on Feb. 18, docking in Rotterdam on Feb. 20, Antwerp on Feb. 21, then lingering two weeks off the coast of the Netherlands (a period through which its AIS data was mostly absent) before returning to Rotterdam on March 4, and in the following days stopping in Terneuzen and Ghent – some 50 kilometers from Brussels – before heading South to the Spanish port of Ceuta on March 15 (on the N. African coast near Tangiers).
The reader can observe the navigation of these ships for oneself – in as much as the AIS data is reliable. MarineTraffic.com allows the user to select time frames within which to track the movement of a selected ship, indicating when it is AIS “pinging” and when it is not.
In other stories related to the ISIS oil trade, the BMZ Group and Bilal Erdoğan…
Middle East Eye – Jordan’s king accuses Turkey of sending terrorists to Europe
Asked by one of the congressmen present whether the Islamic State group was exporting oil to Turkey, Abdullah replied: ”Absolutely.”
Wayne Madsen Report – March 28-29, 2016 — Is Obama sympathetic to radical Islam?
The recently-leaked remarks of Jordan’s King Abdullah, made during a January 11 meeting in Washington with the congressional leadership in Congress, indicates that President Obama is receiving counseling on America’s Middle East policy from a Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who the Jordanian king considers to be a “radical Islamist.”
Abdullah also told congressional leaders that Erdogan is deliberately sending terrorists from the Syrian battlefield to Europe to carry out terrorist attacks. In 2014, Erdogan gave the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) permission to use Turkey as a base from which to recruit Muslim guerrillas to fight against the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. In return, ISIL has sold cut-rate oil from occupied Syrian oil fields to members of Erdogan’s family, including his son Bilal Erdogan, and the Turkish president’s close associates...
Strategy Page – Intelligence: Free Range Data Reveals All
Turns out that the best tool for reducing the use of ships for smuggling was an Israeli firm that built a business on creating a database of normal, and abnormal (and usually illegal) behavior by ships at sea for shipping and maritime insurance companies.
This data was easier to collect since the 1990s when all larger ships were required to use the AIS (Automated Identification System) which is essentially an automatic radio beacon (transponder) that, when it receives a signal from a nearby AIS equipped ship, responds with the ship’s identity, course, and speed. This is meant to enable AIS ships to avoid collisions with each other. An AIS activity database makes it possible to identify patterns of normal and abnormal behavior. The abnormal behavior, like arriving outside a port and waiting for several days to enter, is what smugglers are often forced to do to avoid arrest. Same thing with travelling outside the most efficient (in terms of fuel used and weather encountered) routes. With enough of this data and a thorough analysis it is very difficult for seagoing criminals to escape detection.
Erdoğan of course is doing all he can to limit the open source data that is available to researchers and investigators. Note that in our January 21st post, a Today’s Zaman story that we had linked concerning Bilal’s ownership of the BMZ Group is now a dead link, this following the government’s seizure of the news organization…
Today’s Zaman – Statement from Today’s Zaman: We are seriously concerned
On Bilal’s ongoing legal difficulties in Italy…
Buyer beware; consider the source, and Russian and Turkish language searches were fruitless in confirming of the following…
Veterans Today – Exclusive: Bilal Erdogan’s Criminal Partnerships Outlined
Source close to the Italian security forces, during the course of investigation in the criminal case against Bilal Erdogan, accused of money laundering obtained by criminal means, it was revealed that transit routes used to smuggle contraband petroleum from the Turkish port Mersin to the Lebanese port of Beirut.
This scheme is implemented through a company controlled by the son of the president Bilal Erdoga HODICO S.a.l. and partners in the Republic of Lebanon – the clan Mikati headed by Najib Mikati. It is noted that Bilal Erdogan is a major shareholder in the port of Mersin, through his trustee – Hassan Juneyd Zapsu.
In addition, part of the oil transited, including that from Iraqi Kurdistan, passes through TUPRAS company (B. Erdogan – one of the major shareholders of this company) which is the operator of some oil refineries in Turkey, including an enterprise in Kırıkkale.
Main funds of B.Erdogana and his wife Retvan placed on bank accounts in HALK BANK in Bahrain and the HSBC Turkey bank in Northern Cyprus. Cashing money is carried out by proxy – who goes by the name Gökhan Kantardzhigil (Gokhan Kantarcigil) in the ABN-AMRO bank in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
These facts testify to the strong interest of the Turkish President family in maintaining the armed conflict in Syria, even the division of the country into several independent states, referring to Ankara’s control of the main hubs in the Syrian Arab Republic.
In addition, an independent consulting company Rusted Energy, in its opinion confirms the involvement of the family R. Erdogan to the illegal transit of oil, including from the territory controlled by terrorists “Islamic state.”