Kaplan planned to fly an airplane laden with explosives into the Ataturk mausoleumÂ
ANKARA, Turkey: An Islamic militant has been convictedÂ for a second timeÂ of planning to crash a plane into the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey. JW
A Turkish court, in a retrial, has upheld a life imprisonment sentence of a man charged with attempts to oust Turkey’s secular regime.Â The Istanbul court said Metin Kaplan, also known as ‘Caliph of Cologne’, will remain in prison to serve his life sentence in a ruling at the end of the retrial on Wednesday.Â
Kaplan, also accused of plotting to attack Ataturk’s tomb, had been sentenced to life in prison in 2005 but an appeals court had overturned the decision, citing insufficient investigation and procedural errors.Â
Metin Kaplan, a militant cleric accused of trying to overthrow the secular system and create an Islamic state, told an Istanbul court he was not a terrorist. ”I am Muslim, and a Muslim cannot be a terrorist,” he said in a courtroom discourse sprinkled with quotes from the Koran. Turkish authorities accused Mr. Kaplan, a Turk known as the Caliph of Cologne when he lived in that German city, of organizing a failed plot to crash an airplane into the Ataturk mausoleum during an independence day ceremony in 1998. Germany extradited him in October, after Turkey abolished the death penalty. After the one-day hearing, the court adjourned until April 2005. Susan Sachs (NYT)Â
The Turkish authorities claim Kaplan planned to crash an airplane laden with explosives into Ataturk’s mausoleum amid celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the republic, when the country’s military, bureaucratic and political elite would have gathered at the site.Â
Kaplan, who was extradited from Germany in October 2004 after Turkey banned capital punishment, denies the charge. He was also the leader of a group that sought to create an Islamic state.Â
Back in 2004, this Asshole was thrown out of Germany. After the state spent millions for courts and deportation orders and the Turkish government promised not to hang him. But the Erdogan/Gul government are jihadists and support guys like Kaplan.
Profile: The Caliph of Cologne
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The self-styled Caliph of Cologne, Metin Kaplan, heads the first organisation to be banned under new German anti-terror laws following 11 September.He has served a four-year prison sentence in Germany for inciting members of his group, the Caliphate State, to murder a rival Islamic leader.
A German court has now ruled that he can be extradited to Turkey to face treason charges.
The decision overturns a previous ruling that he was unlikely to receive a fair trial in Turkey.
His calls for the violent overthrow of the Turkish state and its replacement with an Islamic regime have made him a wanted man in Turkey.
Mr Kaplan has built up a following of 1,100 people across Germany, half of them in the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Though the group has made recent attempts to distance itself from terrorism, it has not always been so.
According to intelligence reports, a group of his followers travelled to Turkey at the end of October 1998 to carry out two attacks.
Turkish officials say they planned to fly a plane into the mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, on the 75th anniversary of the country’s establishment.
As that was taking place, militants were supposed to storm a mosque in Istanbul.
Turkish authorities say they foiled the plans, and 25 people were arrested.
Mr Kaplan has declared that it is every Muslim’s duty to wage holy war.
“Every Muslim should overthrow the bad regimes in his country and set up an Islamic state,” he has said.
Islam and democracy, he claims, are incompatible.
Mr Kaplan came to Germany in 1983, claiming asylum as he was then threatened with the death penalty in Turkey.
He took over the Association of Islamic Organisations and Communities on his father’s death in 1995, winning out over his rival Ibrahim Sofu.
Mr Kaplan called for his opponent’s death, and in 1997 Sofu was assassinated by three masked men.
In November 2000, Mr Kaplan was convicted for incitement to murder and sentenced to four years in jail.
Since then, intelligence reports say his followers have become even more devoted to Mr Kaplan, considering him a martyr for the cause of Allah.
All members of his organisation swear an oath of allegiance and are bound in unquestioning loyalty to him.
Mr Kaplan is believed to have a fortune worth millions.
Nonetheless, he claimed social benefits in Cologne for many years until 2m Deutschmarks (1m euros, Â£700,000) in cash was found in his flat.Â
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