TURKEY is feared to be using a shadowy army of Islamist mercenaries to wage secret battles at its bidding, say reports.
SADAT Defense claims it provides consultancy and training services to the multi-billion pound military and private security sector.
However, opponents of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan believe it also acts his own private presidential army ready to wage battle at his beck and call.
Others are quick to draw comparisons with Russia’s feared Wagner Group, which carries out overseas operations for the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin.
SADAT – long shrouded in mystery – hit the headlines last week when the U.S. accused it of deploying Syrian fighters to Libya.
Some Israeli media outlets have previously claimed the organisation is connected to terrorist organisations including Hamas and Hezbollah.
These same sources state the organisation is actively training Islamist elements in Syria and other locations in the Middle East.
It is run by Erdogan’s close confidant Adnan Tanriverdi – dubbed by some the Islamic world’s most powerful gun-for-hire.
He is a retired brigadier general in the Turkish Armed Forces later appointed to Erdogan’s cabinet as chief military counselor in the wake of the attempted coup of 2016.
Locations where his organisation is reported to be active include Somalia and Qatar, where Turkey has established military training centres.
SADAT’s presence has also been reported in the Suakin port in Sudan, a potential strategic outpost for Turkey,
The company’s stated mission is “establishing the connection among the Islamic countries in the sense of defense and military industries.”
It adds it wants to do this “in order to assist the Islamic world to take the rank it deserves among super world powers as a self-sufficient military power.”
However, Tanriverdi has always denied the darker rumours surrounding his military organisation.
“We haven’t sent any mercenaries or other personnel to Syria or Libya,” , he told the Telegraph.
“I would like to highlight again tour firm is not a mercenary organisation. It doesn’t have any connections with terrorist organisations or groups.”
Despite his denials, the American Generals who monitor the region for the Pentagon are clearly not convinced.
In a new report to the US government, they said Turkey sent at least 5,000 Syrian mercenaries to Libya.
They were sent to help Tripoli-allied militias fight the forces of east-based military commander Khalifa Hifter.
The U.S. Africa Command described the Syrian mercenaries fighting with the Tripoli-based government as “inexperienced, uneducated, and motivated by promises of considerable salary.”
Military services offered by SADAT
The company’s website boasts it offers a range of courses including:
- Individual combat training.
- Special Forces training.
- Sniper training programmes.
- Advanced demolition training.
- Armoured vehicle destruction.
- Close quarter battle instruction.
- Cliff assault training.
It claimed SADAT had overseen supervision and payment of the so-called mercenaries.
The report said extremists with previous militant links have been involved in the Tripoli fighting, although “it is possible they were fighting for financial and personal reasons rather than ideological reasons.”
The U.S. military is also increasingly concerned about Russia’s growing influence in Libya, where at least 3,000 Russian mercenaries are backing Hifter’s army, the report stated.
The private Wagner Group has since its initial deployment to Libya in 2019, provided trained snipers armed drones, resulting in “significant casualties” to Tripoli-allied militias, the report said.
Moscow has dismissed the U.S. military’s accusations, insisting “the Russian military is not involved in any processes in Libya in any way.”
The latest claims come as President Erdogan seeks to expand Turkey’s military influence overseas.
He is currently in a stand-off with European leaders over his decision to resume gas exploration in contested waters around Greece and Cyprus, parts of the Mediterranean that Turkey sees as its.