Source: BloombergBy Marc Champion and Cagan Koc
The apartment where Kenneth and Marilyn Abney once worked as Mormon missionaries sits opposite the local high school for Alsancak, a lively neighborhood in Izmir, western Turkey. They were also just a few hundred yards from fellow American Andrew Brunson, the evangelical pastor currently on trial for his alleged involvement in a terrorist plot to destabilize the country. A police cordon marks the home where he still lives, under house arrest.
Alsancak’s tiny world of missionaries and converts seems an unlikely setting for so vast a conspiracy. And yet prosecutors allege that Abney, a retired U.S. special forces major, conspired here with Brunson to coordinate a group of malefactors that included not only evangelicals and Mormons—that is, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)—but also the Muslim Fethullah Gulen faith group (designated as terrorists by Ankara after Turkey’s failed 2016 military coup), the Kurdish-Marxist PKK terrorist organization, an Israeli, an Iranian, and current and former agents of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Abney has not been indicted, but prosecutors say he is “under investigation.”