A 58-year-old academic who runs the well-funded research and development arm of the Turkish government agency that is tasked with boosting the country’s defense industry has worked with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force cells in Turkey, a Nordic Monitor investigation has found.
The evidence collected through court-authorized surveillance and wiretaps from 2011 to 2014 led the investigators to conclude that Şenlikci was part of a Quds Force operation in Turkey and was working closely with the Iranian Consulate General’s cultural attaché, Hassan Shabani, also a suspect in the Quds Force probe.
The two had been trying to establish an Iran chair at Istanbul University, where Şenlikci was working as an academic at the time, and were making efforts to recruit dozens of students as assets under the guise of various educational and cultural programs financed by Iran.
The investigation uncovered that Şenlikci had been associated with known Quds operatives who had served time in the past on terrorism convictions. According to a wiretap record dated April 2, 2012, Şenlikci spoke to a man named Abdülhamit Çelik, who was convicted of killing two opponents of the Iran regime in Turkey in 1996 on behalf of the Quds Force and sentenced to 12 years, six months in prison.
The content of dozens of wiretap records reviewed by Nordic Monitor portray Şenlikci as a religious man who idolizes Iranian Shiite clerics and made visits to Shiite holy places in Iraq and Iran. He traveled twice to Iran in 2012 and 2013 as part of a project run by the Quds Force, according to the investigation file.
The IRGC Quds Force case in Turkey never went to trial because the Erdoğan government hushed it up in February 2014 after learning about the probe, which incriminated senior government officials.
The investigating prosecutor was sacked before he had a chance to secure detention warrants for the suspects and file an indictment. Şenlikci escaped the long arm of the law thanks to the intervention of Erdoğan, who apparently protected pro-Iranian assets and helped their Quds Force handlers escape from Turkey.