Official Documents Confirm Major Criminal Investigations of Turkish Operatives in Chicago
Recently released FBI documents prove the existence of highly sensitive National Security and criminal investigations of “Turkish Activities” in Chicago prior to September 11, 2001. These documents add further support to many of the allegations that former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds has claimed, in public and in Congress, since 2002. The documents were released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into an organization called the Turkish American Cultural Alliance (TACA), an organization repeatedly named by Ms. Edmonds as being complicit in the crimes that she became aware of when she was a translator at the FBI.
The documents released under FOIA are almost completely redacted, but they do support many of Edmonds’ claims, including:
There were a number of very serious FBI investigations into “Turkish activity in Chicago” involving a number of targets, including TACA;
These investigations were related to “National Security” among other things;
These investigations were regarded as so sensitive that no files were to be uploaded to FBI’s computer system;
Congressional corruption was involved;
The FBI repeatedly conducted actual “physical surveillance” against Turkish and American targets;
Some of these investigations were shut down in 2001.
The documents comprise primarily of internal FBI ECs (Electronic Communications) between FBI offices. Most of the ECs are titled “Turkish American Cultural Association” although one from Feb 2000 is titled “Turkish Investigations in Chicago” which indicates that there were at least seven different pending investigations into Turkish activity in Chicago, and another later document from July 2001 indicates that there were at least ten investigations into TACA alone.
The earliest document is a November 1999 EC from the FBI’s National Security Division (NS-2D) to FBI field offices in Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York (although there is a reference to a September 1999 EC from NSD.) The timing is significant. In an article in The American Conservative by Phil Giraldi, Ms. Edmonds notes that although there were investigations into Turkish activity dating back to 1996, most of that activity was being monitored by Counter-Intelligence based on FISA warrants because the main targets were foreigners, however in 1999 investigations were opened into ‘US Persons‘ and “they wiretapped the congressmen directly.”
The FBI was obviously concerned about ‘campaign donations’ being paid to Congressional Representatives by these groups. Ms. Edmonds has repeatedly referred to certain groups making “different kinds of campaign contributions – legal and illegal, declared and undeclared” to various congressional members. Two days after an EC from the National Security Division, Chicago reviewed the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC) database which contains details of donations to congressional campaigns. Chicago was apparently interested in donations made by “three individuals who attended the meeting at TACA.”
The FBI was also interested in the leadership of TACA. One EC notes that TACA held elections in 2000 and provides a list of all the newly elected officials. The EC states “Most pertinent to the above investigations was the fact that REDACTED had been REDACTED.” We know that Mehmet Celebi was elected President of TACA at that meeting. Ms. Edmonds has previously referred to Celebi as a key player in the Turkish mafia in the US, noting that the Celebi family is involved in arms and heroin trafficking. Celebi was also Vice-President of the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations (ATAA), another organization named by Ms. Edmonds and others as being involved in various criminal activities.
In 2008, Celebi briefly received some attention when he was key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, and was nominated as one of Clinton’s Chicago delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He was eventually kicked out of the Clinton campaign because of the scrutiny.
At the time, Ms. Edmonds said:
“In 2005, Vanity Fair reported that Dennis Hastert had been bribed by Turkish interests. If people want to investigate this further they should FOIA the FBI’s Chicago Field Office for information regarding Mehmet Celebi going back to 1997. If the FBI is honest, there will be boxes and boxes of files responsive to these FOIA requests.”
Famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg once said: “Sibel says that suitcases of cash have been delivered to the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, at his home, near Chicago, from Turkish sources, knowing that a lot of that is drug money.”
The aforementioned Vanity Fair article, apparently trying to dodge some potential legal liability, suggested that “the reported content of the Chicago wiretaps may well have been sheer bravado, and there is no evidence that any payment was ever made to Hastert,” however a July 2001 EC regarding the “Statistical Accomplishments” of the TACA case notes that there were thirteen separate instances of actual ‘Physical Surveillance’ in the TACA case alone, suggesting that the FBI may very well have first-hand evidence of some of these crimes.
One fascinating feature of many of these documents is that many of them ominously warn about the sensitivity of the investigation. A typical warning reads:
“Extreme caution must be exercised in the handling of sensitive information contained within. No material pertaining to this investigation is to be computer uploaded. Information concerning this REDACTED investigation is not to be shared with CID (Criminal Investigation Division) absent FBIHQ/DOJ concurrence.”
Ms. Edmonds has often stated that these investigations into illegal Turkish activity were shut down by the White House and State Department in 2001 and 2002, but that the FBI Chicago Office fought to keep them open. Two of the ten cases related to TACA were officially closed by Chicago in July 2001, however even the documents relating to these ‘closed’ cases still warned that the information required ‘extreme caution’ and were not to be uploaded or shared with CID.
Asked to comment on these new documents, Ms. Edmonds replied:
“Finally! I’ve been saying this for years, and now we finally have documented proof from the FBI of this Turkish criminal activity based in Chicago.
“This is fantastic, but even this is only the tip of the iceberg. The main question is this: Why has the White House and the State Dept been so determined to shut these investigations down? They shut down these investigations at the FBI, they shut me down with the State Secrets Privilege.
“What are they hiding? Chicago was the center of it all, Chicago was the center of the foreign espionage activity, and the center for money laundering, and also a major heroin distribution center. Celebi was a key player, but Dennis Hastert, Mayor Daley, Robert Creamer and other US officials also helped facilitate these activities. When will we see some accountability?”
That is the ultimate question. We now have even more evidence of these crimes – but there is still no sign of any accountability. What will it take?