Birdal was the target of an assassination attempt in 1998, but escaped with his life. The attack was carried out by ultranationalist gunmen with alleged links to officials within Turkey's security apparatus.
“There was such a team in MİT. I think the attempt to assassinate me was perpetrated by this team,” Birdal told Today's Zaman over the weekend, adding that Kozinoğlu was one of the leading members of this team.
“I think of this team as a gang. Kozinoğlu was obviously protected by the state following the assassination attempt. Since the case was heard by a State Security Court [DGM], the details of the assassination attempt were not exposed. Kozinoğlu was excluded from the trial,” said Birdal.
Kozinoğlu died on Nov. 12, 2011 from an alleged heart attack at the Silivri prison complex, located on the outskirts of İstanbul. He had been arrested as part of an investigation into the OdaTV news portal, which is accused of aiding and abetting Ergenekon, an organization that allegedly plotted to overthrow the elected government. He was the sole MİT official arrested as part of the Ergenekon probe and has been described as the Special Forces Command and MİT's “black box.”
His death raised suspicions about whether or not he was killed, as he was scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 22. Regarding Kozinoğlu's death, Birdal said he highly suspects that Kozinoğlu did not die from a heart attack. “I wonder if he was silenced. There is a need for a thorough investigation [into his death],” Birdal said.