The whereabouts of Turkish businessman Harun Aydin, who was part of Deputy William Ruto’s delegation to Uganda remained a mystery yesterday after it emerged that he was not part of the returning team.
Last evening, it also emerged that the businessman had checked out of a city hotel where he has been staying since June. It was not immediately clear who checked him out.
Sources told People Daily that Immigration officials had stormed the hotel seeking to question the man who has been linked to terrorism.
A manifest seen by our team revealed that while MPs Oscar Sudi, Ndindi Nyoro, Benjamin Tayari, businessman David Langat and Dr David Kipkoech jetted back to the country yesterday, Aydin did not fly with them from Entebbe. Others who did not take the flight to Nairobi via Eldoret were Dr Eric Rutto and Elijah Rono.
The plane flew to Eldoret from Entebbe where Sudi, Langat, Kipkoech disembarked before it proceeded to Nairobi with Tayari and Nyoro. It remained unclear under what circumstances the Turkish businessman, who has a tourist visa was swiftly checked out of the hotel.
And yesterday, the Kenya government is said to have written to the Turkish Embassy in Nairobi seeking clarification on the identity of Aydin and reasons for his frequent missions to Nairobi.
Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intimated that the government was concerned with Aydin’s alleged dark past and has asked the embassy to provide it with more details. “The government has decided to wait for a clarification from the Turkish Embassy in Nairobi before it can decide what necessary step to take,”a source at the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Concerns have also been raised on the DP’s private trips most of which are not known by the authorities. Ruto was in Uganda last month where he was hosted by President Yoweri Museveni.
“He went to Uganda and later Zanzibar for a private meeting with local businessmen, which are not known to authorities. Protocol is clear that you get you clearance from your boss. There’s only one boss for the DP,” said a senior official at the Office of the President.
Aydin, who first arrived in the country in May 2018, has allegedly made several trips outside the country together with Ruto. He has also been a frequent visitor to Kenya through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). That year, he is alleged to have made at least six return trips between Instanbul and Nairobi.
The Turkish Embassy in Nairobi officials, however, declined to comment on the matter, saying the person concerned was out of office. “The only person authorised
to comment on the matter is out of the office,” an official said on phone. The following year 2019, Aydin made four more trips to Kenya while last year he made two trips. This year, he has made six trips to Kenya originating from Instanbul, Cairo and Addis Ababa.
According to reports, Aydin who holds passport number U20470175, had previously been arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, in October 2001 on charges of “having planned serious acts of violence as a member of a terrorist group with an Islamic fundamentalist background”.
During the arrest, Aydin then aged 29, was a student who had been living in Germany.
According to The New York Times and other media houses, a Frankfurt court described Aydin as a leading member of a militant group based in Cologne and led by Muhammed Metin Kaplan. Kaplan’s group of 1,300 people, most of them Turkish, is known as the Federation of Islamic Associations and Communities.
Aydin was charged with having planned serious acts of violence as a member of a terrorist group with an Islamic fundamentalist background. He was found with luggage containing camouflage clothing, a chemical-weapons protection suit, a ski mask and materials to produce an explosive detonator.
Investigators also found in his luggage were CD-ROM with a training video for Islamic holy warriors, a suicide note to his wife and a last testament, according to a local newspaper based in Cologne, Germany.
He was also accused of giving instructions for serious crimes such as murder and manslaughter in several incidences.
His lawyer, however, said he was flying to Tehran (Iran) for a book fair and had agreed to take a suitcase for another Turkish passenger with excess luggage.
It is one of the religious-based organisations that is likely to be banned as soon as a new German law goes into effect that will remove the constitutional protection for hate speech provided to faith-based organisations.
Before the arrest, Aydin had been sentenced to four years in jail after he was found guilty of advocating the murder of a rival, Halil Ibrahim Sofu, but was later acquitted.
Yesterday, Kapsaret MP Sudi, who was among the MPs briefly detained at the Wilson airport before being allowed to travel to Kampala, described Aydin as a Turkish investor interested in modern fruit farming and not a terrorist as alleged in media reports.
“If anyone is in doubt about the details of Harun then they can visit the Turkish Embassy for more information,” Sudi wrote on Facebook. He added: “Museveni is not a kid to deal with someone of questionable repute, you can use your diplomatic connection and inquire from Ssebo (Museveni) himself the kind of interest the businessman has in Uganda.”