Look at the coincidence; Reza Zarrab was caught at Miami Airport on March 19 last year and was arrested on March 22.
One year later, on March 23, the person whose name was mentioned in the Zarrab file, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an official at Halkbank, landed in New York. He was questioned by customs officers at the airport. On March 27, while he was about to board his return flight, he was caught by the FBI, detained and arrested.
We have not been able to solve the first incident, however, a second one erupted exactly on its anniversary. Is this only a simple coincidence?
There is some strangeness with the dates. Halkbank issued a statement that read, “Our Deputy General Manager for International Banking Mehmet Hakan Atilla was detained in the U.S. on March 28 while he was on a business trip.”
A prosecutor’s office said it was on March 27. Which one is right?
How would you trust the people who make mistakes on the date of such a critical incident when they handle extremely important details?
The Halkbank statement said he was on duty there. The mistake in the date can be explained. Maybe the arrest was decided on the 27th, and executed on the 28th; the change of dates could be due to that.
However, for Halkbank to say that he was in New York on duty changes everything. So, the bank knew Atilla was travelling to New York; it allowed this trip, which is more than just condoning. The bank has sent him there on duty.
In this case, all possible scenarios go to the waste basket. Atilla has gone to the FBI with his bank’s knowledge and approval. Let us look at the options probable and improbable.
Atilla had not heard that his name was mentioned in the Zarrab file, which he was directly associated with the crime investigated, that their recorded phone conversations were included in the file. He had no knowledge of these. He just went there on leisure travel. He was naive.
He was a bit crazy; he took the challenge. He wanted to test whether or not things had changed after Attorney Preet Bharara was removed. He played with fire. He now understood that nothing had changed but this was a very big risk to take. He was about to return, his ticket was wasted.
He was not a sleepwalker. He was not a secret Fethullahist but he held grudge against the ministers involved. Before the Zarrab case was closed, he certainly wanted Ankara
to get involved. He was aware of the danger. He knew New York was not safe for him. He knew he would be in trouble; he wanted to talk this one way or another. He took the plane on March 23. He was prepared and planned; and intentionally and bravely handed himself over. He negotiated with the FBI for four days. He struck a deal for cooperation and wanted to be an informant. All in all, he was not caught; he gave himself in.
There is no scenario. It is as it happened, very straightforward. You may say that he was forgetful; he did not take it seriously. Like there was no Zarrab case ongoing, Atilla just went there. His timing has no message or meaning. It was unplanned, not programmed, without any conspiracy, just an ordinary trip. Nobody ever thought of telling him, “Hey, stop. What are you doing?” Those who sent him recognized that what they had done was only too late.
After the Halkbank statement, which one of the options is cancelled and which one do you think is the gravest one?