According to an 854-page police investigation on the Tawhid-Salam terror network obtained by Today’s Zaman, witness testimony provided to the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office on March 22, 2013 indicated that suspects tied to Iranian intelligence had collected information about Kürecik. The witness said many front companies with the cover of legitimate businesses such as real estate agencies or bookstores had been established in Malatya by people with ties to Iran in order to gather intelligence on the NATO radar base.
Iran held the top spot on the list of foreign countries establishing companies in Turkey in 2011, and the number of Iranian-owned firms rose steadily each month in 2012. Observers have repeatedly pointed out concerns in Ankara that some of the Tehran-backed businesses may be front companies set up to finance terrorist activities as well as to circumvent United Nations and United States-sponsored sanctions on Iran.
The Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), an organization that tracks foreign firms, reported that Iranians set up 111 companies in Turkey between January and June of 2014. The number of Iran-funded companies set up in 2013 was 280.
The secret witness was identified in the case file with the code name “Şafak.” He also claimed that some of the protests held about Kürecik were organized by people linked to Iran who the Tawhid-Salam terror network paid in cash for their services.
Turkey hosts an early warning radar system as part of a NATO missile defense system to protect its European allies. The X-band AN/TPY-2 radar was deployed at a military base in Kürecik, and has been operational since January 2012.
The system is designed to prevent an Iranian missile threat, as explicitly stated by US officials on several occasions.
Then-Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan stated in September 2012 in Washington, “We have made no secret of the fact that Iran’s missile program is a reason for concern,” referring to the Kürecik radar’s potential focus on Iran.
Turkey’s decision to host the radar base has strained Turkish-Iranian ties. “We are closely monitoring relations with Turkey in the national security commission in [the Iranian] parliament. Iran has warned Turkey before that the deployment of the system will have grave consequences,” said Hossein Ibrahimi, the vice president of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, in December 2011.
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