This Is What It Was Like To Take Part In The Failed Turkish Coup, In The Words Of The Plotters

from the history-in-the-making dept

A year ago, we wrote about an interesting new organisation called Bellingcat. Although it's not clear what kind of project it should be called, it's easy to understand what it does: it takes publicly-available information from many sources, and tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of contemporary events. Its most recent analysis is an extremely topical piece of work:

A group of plotters of the failed Turkish coup attempt used a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other. Bellingcat has transcribed, translated, and analysed the conversation, thereby cross-referencing the messages with photos, videos, and news reports of the evening, night, and morning of July 15-16.
There are two sources for the WhatsApp conversation. One was widely circulated on Twitter soon after the coup, and consists of a video purporting to show messages on the phone of a plotter. The other source is a series of photos obtained by a journalist with Al Jazeera, although no further information on them is given. Naturally, claims that these are authentic need to be treated with caution, and this is where the Bellingcat method of drawing on diverse sources shows its strength. For example, a mention of the 66th Mechanised Infantry Brigade in the conversation is corroborated using other information from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as follows:
By cross-referencing registration plates, military vehicles of the 2nd Armoured Brigade and the 66th Mechanised Infantry Brigade can indeed be spotted on photographs taken during the coup attempt in Istanbul. Number plates from vehicles from the First Army all start with "1" followed by five other numbers, thus "1XX XXX". While some military vehicles had their number plates covered during the coup attempt, others had not and often showed registration plates starting with "117" and "196", as Twitter users @Ald_Aba and @AbraxasSpa noted.

These numbers can be specifically attributed to the 2nd and 66th regiments, by looking at older photo and video material of both units, @Ald_Aba tweeted. As with regards to the numbers "196", photos uploaded to Facebook of the 2nd Armoured Brigade also show vehicles with the number "196". Similarly, the numbers "117" we also spotted on a vehicle of a YouTube video of the 66th Mechanised Infantry Brigade.
The extensive Bellingcat post consists of the conversation, in the original and in translation, as well as commentary of the kind quoted above. It provides extraordinary insights into the mechanics of a coup in the digital age.

At first, everything seems to be going according to plan, as key Turkish infrastructure is seized, including the state broadcaster. At around about midnight local time, one of the plotters in the WhatsApp group warns: "Privately owned TV stations must be silenced." But shortly afterwards, Turkey's President Erdoğan made his by-now famous speech using FaceTime while mid-flight, broadcast by the privately-owned TV stations the plotters had failed to shut down. The Bellingcat post explains:

President Erdoğan's speech is not mentioned in the group conversation, but the direct results of that speech are clearly noticeable: most units are asking for support as they are being surrounded by large crowd of civilians.
As a result, the plotters give increasingly desperate orders to use lethal force on the growing crowds, but to no avail. The last part of the WhatsApp transcription records the guttering of the short-lived attempted coup:
"Has the operation been cancelled Murat", Major Aygar asks.
"Yes, commander", he replies.
Major Aygar: "We're quitting??"
Colonel Doğan: "Which operation, all of it?"
Major Çelebioğlu: "Yes quit, commander."
Colonel Doğan: "Meaning?"
Major Çelebioğlu: "Yes, commander, operation aborted."
Colonel Doğan: "Shall we escape?"
Major Çelebioğlu: "Stay alive, commander. The choice is yours. We have not decided yet. But we have left our position. I'm closing the group. Delete the messages if you want."
It's fortunate for us -- and for future academics who will pore over them -- that the messages were not completely deleted. They survive to provide us with a unique record of a coup as it happened, told in the words of those who tried and failed to seize a major nation. On their own, the short bursts of conversation would be interesting, but hard to parse. With Bellingcat's characteristic annotations and amplifications, they become a gripping spectacle of history as it was being made, just two weeks ago.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 4:51am

    The Turkish coup attempt was apparently a hoax, false flag, a covert operation to solidify the dictatorship and to then blame others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 27 Jul 2016 @ 6:32am

      Re:

      Apparently the coup attempt was entirely real and not entirely unexpected. Erdoğan had a list of actions to take solidify the dictatorship already waiting, for any coup attempt or any other crisis.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 8:13am

      Re:

      The Turkish coup attempt was apparently a hoax, false flag, a covert operation to solidify the dictatorship and to then blame others.

      To flush out and eliminate dissidents?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 6:21am

    As time marches forward details of history are condensed tighter and tighter until decades of peoples lives are explained in little more than a sentence or two. History does this partially because we just don't have time to go over every year's events without some sort of compression. Although primarily it seems like we do this from the lack of complete sources of every angle of an event.

    This is just one step closer to giving us a picture into every side of history. I just am curious how historical compression will treat this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 27 Jul 2016 @ 7:01am

    A year ago, we wrote about an interesting new organisation called Bellingcat. Although it's not clear what kind of project it should be called, it's easy to understand what it does: it takes publicly-available information from many sources, and tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of contemporary events.

    There's actually already a well-established name for people who do that kind of work: intelligence analysts. Used to be that only governments and the occasional megacorp had the resources to utilize them, but it seems technology is leveling the playing field.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 7:37am

    What failed coup?

    Edrogan's coup is doing nicely, thank you very much. Haven't you seen the number of military, police, judiciary, teachers etc. who don't support his ideals who have been booted out of their jobs? To strengthen "democracy" (which when Edrogan uses it seems to mean permanently entrenching him in the positions of ultimate authority, regardless of what the citizens of Turkey may want) of course.

    Or do you mean that poorly planned and executed fiasco that preceded the real coup?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 10:29am

    I thought people in turkey didn't like Edrogan. Did he just have more allies in positions of power? Or did the population not unite enough to support the coup?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jul 2016 @ 10:49am

      Re:

      When Edrogen asked the people to turn out in the streets to impede the coup, they did so. That was why the coup failed.

      This indicates that a lot of people were not in favor of the coup, but it doesn't necessarily indicate that the people like Edrogen. They may have reasons to oppose the coup that are independent of their opinion of him.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2016 @ 11:39am

    No worries!

    Turkey is getting just exactly the kind of government it deserves!

    Just like the rest of us fuckers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 27 Jul 2016 @ 12:44pm

    Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins and NYT's are Propagandists

    A year ago, we wrote about an interesting new organisation called Bellingcat. Although it's not clear what kind of project it should be called, it's easy to understand what it does: it takes publicly-available information from many sources, and tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of contemporary events.

    Any analysis put forth by the interesting new organisation called Bellingcat is dubious at best and outright fraudulent at worst.

    Beginning with Bellingcat's (Elliot Higgins) incorrect analysis of the Syrian sarin nerve agent attack in August 2013 in which it blamed the Syrian government.

    The paragraph below was excerpted from a report titled "Will NYT Retract Latest Anti-Russian ‘Fraud’?" found at Consortiumnews.com:

    Apparently, Higgins, who operates out of Leicester, England, has grown spoiled by all the praise lavished on him by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and other mainstream publications despite the fact that Bellingcat’s record for accuracy is a poor one.

    For instance, in his first big splash, Higgins echoed U.S. propaganda in Syria about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack — blaming it on President Bashar al-Assad — but was forced to back down from his assessment when aeronautical experts revealed that the sarin-carrying missile had a range of only about two kilometers, much shorter than Higgins had surmised in blaming the attack on Syrian government forces. (Despite that key error, Higgins continued claiming the Syrian government was guilty.)

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/22/will-nyt-retract-latest-anti-russian-fraud/

    Another defective analysis from Bellingcat (Elliot Higgins) is related to the shoot down of Malaysian airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine on 17Jul14.

    The paragraph below was again excerpted from a report titled "Will NYT Retract Latest Anti-Russian ‘Fraud’?" found at Consortiumnews.com:

    Higgins also gave the Australian “60 Minutes” program a location in eastern Ukraine where a “getaway” Buk missile battery was supposedly videoed en route back to Russia, except that when the news crew got there the landmarks didn’t match up, causing the program to have to rely on sleight-of-hand editing to deceive its viewers.

    When I noted the discrepancies and posted screenshots from the “60 Minutes” program to demonstrate the falsehoods, “60 Minutes” launched a campaign of insults against me and resorted to more video tricks and outright journalistic fraud in defense of Higgins’s faulty information.

    This pattern of false claims and even fraud to promote these stories has not stopped the mainstream Western press from showering Higgins and Bellingcat with acclaim. It probably doesn’t hurt that Bellingcat’s “disclosures” always dovetail with the propaganda themes emanating from Western governments.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/22/will-nyt-retract-latest-anti-russian-fraud/

    And yet another defective analysis put forth by Bellingcat ( Eliot Higgins) again in relation to MH-17 shoot down is excerpted below:

    But Kramer and the Times left out that the earlier Bellingcat analysis was thoroughly torn apart by photo-forensic experts including Dr. Neal Krawetz, founder of the FotoForensics digital image analytical tool that Bellingcat had used. Over the past week, Bellingcat has been aggressively pushing the new analysis by armscontrolwonk.com, with which Bellingcat has close relationships.

    This past week, Krawetz and other forensic specialists began weighing in on the new analysis and concluding that it suffered the same fundamental errors as the previous analysis, albeit using a different analytical tool. Given Bellingcat’s promotion of this second analysis by a group with links to Bellingcat and its founder Eliot Higgins, Krawetz viewed the two analyses as essentially coming from the same place, Bellingcat.

    “Jumping to the wrong conclusion one time can be due to ignorance,” Krawetz explained in a blog post. “However, using a different tool on the same data that yields similar results, and still jumping to the same wrong conclusion is intentional misrepresentation and deception. It is fraud.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/22/will-nyt-retract-latest-anti-russian-fraud/

    In short any analysis put forth by Elliot Higgins/Bellingcat should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 27 Jul 2016 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins and NYT's are Propagandists

      "In short any analysis put forth by Elliot Higgins/Bellingcat should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism."

      In truth, any analysis put forth by anybody at all should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 27 Jul 2016 @ 5:18pm

    I expect erdogan will go after the people that ignored his ban on face time to help him even though it allowed him to stay in power.

    He just seems like that sort of guy to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 28 Jul 2016 @ 5:04am

    Sadly they gave the little man (Erdogan) ammunition to go totalitarian.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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