Masked Turkish intelligence agents accused of abducting businessman in Tajikistan

Masked Turkish intelligence agents accused of abducting businessman in Tajikistan
Advocates for Dignity was one of a number of NGOs that posted alerts on social media featuring a photo of Koray Vural after he disappeared. / Advocates for Dignity, platform X
By bne IntelIiNews September 18, 2023

Agents of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) are thought to have abducted a Turkish businessman living in Tajik capital Dushanbe on the morning of September 17. 

Father-of-three Koray Vural was said to have been taken by men in masks while on his way to work, according to accounts reported by Kronos. The indications are that the move against Vural was made because of his links to the Gulen, or “Hizmet”, Islamist fraternal movement that Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In July 2021, Erdogan openly boasted about how Turkish intelligence agents had abducted Turkish-Kyrgyz educator Orhan Inandi, a founder of Gulenist schools, from Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Ankara describes the Gulen movement, led by US-based self-exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, as a “terrorist” organisation, but Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, has always strenuously denied that the group has any terrorist links and has refuted the claim it was involved in the coup attempt.

After the apparent abduction of Vural, his two daughters, Sumeyra Nur and Yasemin Nur Vural, publicised the incident on social media platform X. 

“We are the daughters of Koray Vural. Our father was abducted by unidentified men in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe,” they said on September 17. 

In a following tweet, the girls alleged that their father was abducted by MIT agents and was being held at the Turkish embassy in Dushanbe. “He will be taken to Turkey at three o’clock in the morning. We are asking the international community for urgent help,” they wrote. 

Local media said Vural had been living in Tajikistan since 1994, where he worked at schools linked to the Gulen movement. Such schools were shut down in Tajikistan after the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. After the schools were closed, Vural apparently became an entrepreneur and worked in commerce. 

Stockholm Center for Freedom noted that Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from Turkey’s Green Left Party (YSP), demanded an explanation from Turkish authorities for the disappearance of Vural. “Koray Vural’s family claims he was abducted by MIT. This [type of abduction by Turkish intelligence agents abroad] would not be the first time!” he said on X. “Authorities need to clarify what happened to the Turkish plane that took off from Dushanbe airport.” 

On September 18, Gergerlioglu gave a detailed timeline on his social media account of incidents said to have taken place following Vural’s disappearance. “A plane took off for Dushanbe from Ankara at quarter to nine in the evening. It landed in Dushanbe at 5:50 a.m., and after waiting for half an hour took off again. Around 11:25 a.m. it arrived back at Ankara’s Etimesgut military airport.”