Cablegate: Turkey: 2003 Terrorism Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 06 ANKARA 007378



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2013

(U) Classified by Charge d'Affaires a.i. Robert S. Deutsch; reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).


1. (U) Combating terrorism has long been a priority for the
Government of Turkey (GOT). In 2003, Turkey continued its strong support of the coalition in the global war against terror in Afghanistan by agreeing to extend its leadership of the International Security Force (ISAF) into 2003. On October 7, the Turkish Parliament authorized the GOT to contribute up to 10,000 troops to an Iraq stabilization force
for up to a year, but conditions in Iraq prevented deployment
in 2003.

2. (U) In separate November incidents in Istanbul, terrorists detonated truck bombs near two synagogues and, five days later, outside the British Consulate and a British-owned bank. Over 50 people were killed in the attacks, while over 700 were wounded. Turkish authorities quickly condemned the attacks, and police have arrested a number of suspects. Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted
Turks and foreigners, occasionally including USG personnel,
for over 40 years. International and domestic terrorist groups operating in Turkey include Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, separatist, and pro-Chechen groups. In response to these threats, GOT has developed both strong determination and the capability to fight terrorism. Turkey continues to support the USG's international, coordinated approach.

U.S. Designated Terrorist Organizations

3. (U) On October 8, 1997, the Secretary of State named the
separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C, formerly known as Revolutionary Left, Dev-Sol) terrorist organizations, making them subject to the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. On October 11, 2001, the Secretary of State renewed those
designations for another two years. (The PKK changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress, or KADEK, and in November 2003 changed names again, becoming the Kurdistan People's Congress, KHK. The USG quickly indicated that the group will continue to be viewed as a terrorist organization.)


4. (U) The main radical-left terror organization, DHKP-C, conducts small-scale operations against Turks and foreigners alike (armed attacks on uniformed police, suicide and other bombings, assassinations). This organization increased operations in the run up to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and continues to organize itself predominantly within Europe. According to government authorities, DHKP-C cooperates with other groups in Europe by providing support, shelter, and arms to them. Turkish authorities believe there has been a
resurgence in membership attributed to the left's dissatisfaction with the current government, which has Islamist roots. DHKP-C claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against Turkish targets in 2003, including an attempted suicide bombing of a police bus in Ankara and two separate IED attacks on Turkish government vehicles in Istanbul. In its rhetoric, DHKP-C continues to attack U.S. foreign policy, especially with regard to Iraq, and credible reports suggest it continues to target American interests.

5. (U) Other active far-left terrorist organizations include the Turkish Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML), the Turkish Workers' and Peasants Liberation Army (TIKKO), and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). TKP/ML and TIKKO primarily operate in the areas of Ordu, Tokat, and Samsun. MLKP conducts small-scale terrorist operations, usually using IEDs called "sound bombs," within metropolitan areas. MLKP has conducted a low-level bombing campaign against western businesses in all the major Turkish cities in
2003. In each instance, a sound bomb was placed on a doorstep or in the vicinity of a business in the evening hours when injury to innocent bystanders was least likely. These sound bombs result in minimal damage.

Radical Islamist

6. (U) The primary radical Islamist terror group of Turkey is Turkish Hizbullah. Known to fight its rivals, namely the PKK (and its successors) and rival Islamic groups, Turkish Hizbullah has avoided confrontations with authorities. Turkish Hizbullah has not carried out any major operations in 2003 but, according to state authorities, continues to maintain the capability to conduct operations. Local press
has speculated that Hizbullah may have played a role in the November bombings in Istanbul.

7. (U) Other Islamic groups include the Great Eastern Raider's Front (IBDA-C), Federal Islamic State of Anatolia (Kaplancilar), Selam Group, Islamic Movement Organization (IHO), the Jerusalem Warriors, Selefiler, Sofular, and Beyyiat-I El-Imam. Both IBDA-C and Beyyiat-I El-Imam are sympathetic to Al Qaida. IBDA-C claimed to have conducted the Istanbul bombings in November, but Turkish authorities said publicly that the group could not have conducted the operation without the assistance of a larger organization such as Al Qaida.


8. (U) KHK, formerly known as the PKK and, later, KADEK, is the largest separatist organization in Turkey. There are credible indications that the group is organizing again to launch attacks against the GOT in Turkey's western cities. KHK's capability to operate has been drastically reduced due to vigorous and on-going counter-insurgency efforts of the Turkish Armed Forces, Jandarma, Turkish National Police (TNP), and village guards (a paramilitary guard force
recruited from local villagers). This effort ultimately led to the arrest and conviction of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999. The European Union (EU) designated the PKK a terrorist organization in May 2002. In April 2002 the group changed its name and organization. Renamed the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK), the organization expanded its operations by focusing more on political activities.

9. (U) In the summer of 2003, KADEK renounced its self-proclaimed cease-fire and threatened to renew its separatist struggle in both the Southeast and Turkey's western cities. Turkish press subsequently reported several incidents in the Southeast in which Turkish security forces were attacked by KADEK militants. As part of the GWOT, the
U.S. is committed to eliminating the threat to Turkey posed by the PKK/KADEK in Iraq. In November 2003, KADEK changed its name to the Kurdistan People,s Congress (KHK) and now claims to be an organized political group advocating Kurdish rights. According to Turkish government experts and NGOs, KHK maintains approximately 500-armed militants in Turkey and up to 5000 armed militants in Northern Iraq.

Chechens in Turkey

10. (U) Although Chechen terrorists did not conduct any major
operations in Turkey in 2003, they maintain the capability to do so, according to Turkish officials. Large numbers of Turks, many with roots in the Caucasus, are sympathetic to Chechen ambitions. In April 2002, Mustafa Yilmaz, a Turkish citizen of Chechen origin, seized the Marmara Hotel in Istanbul and held 13 hostages for approximately twenty minutes until he surrendered without incident. This followed
an April 22, 2001 seizure of Istanbul's Swiss Hotel by 13 pro-Chechen Turkish citizens who held 150 hostages, including 37 Americans, for approximately 12 hours.

11. (U) The capitalized titles below correspond to reftel

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12. (U) Turkey remained a strong and active contributor to the Global War on Terrorism effort. Turkey agreed to extend its leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond December 2002 (when its six-month term what set to end) to February 2003. Turkey also contributed forces to ISAF III under the leadership of the Germans/Dutch and to ISAF IV under the leadership of NATO.

13. (U) Although it denied permission for U.S. troops to deploy to Iraq at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from Turkey, Turkey provided substantial assistance to OIF, allowing overflight by U.S. aircraft bound for Iraq and supporting ground lines of communication (GLOC) through Turkey for supply and re-supply of U.S. forces in Iraq. The Turks permitted the transport to Iraq of humanitarian goods,
contributed humanitarian goods and services and sold vital material such as fuel, food and water to U.S. forces in Iraq. Turkey also sold electricity to Iraq. The Turks offered to provide training to Iraqis, including Iraqi police and customs officials, and to provide personnel to CPA and a number of other goods and services related to Iraqi
reconstruction. Turkey pledged USD 50 million at the Madrid
Conference. In October 2003, the Turkish Parliament approved a motion granting the GOT permission to deploy Turkish force in Iraq as part of a Stabilization Force for OIF. In November 2003, the GOT, in consultation with the USG, decided not to deploy troops.

14. (U) Turkey continues to counter Al-Qaida activity in Turkey. In 2003, Turkish authorities apprehended several senior-level Al Qaida operatives. Turkish officials speculated in the press that arresting the high-ranking Al Qaida members may have prompted the November bombings in Istanbul.

15. (SBU) In compliance with UN Security Resolution 1373, Turkey has ratified all United Nations conventions on combating terrorism. However, Turkey has acted (by Council of Ministers decrees) to freeze the assets only of those terrorist organizations, persons, and entities designated pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1267 (relating to Taliban and Al-Qaida), because Turkish law does not currently permit it to freeze the assets of other such organizations, persons, and entities. The initial decree, No. 2001/3483, dated December 22, 2001, has been updated by decree Nos. 2002/3873, dated March 21, 2002, 2002/4206, dated May 16, 2002, 2002/4896, dated October 1, 2002, and 2002/5426, dated March 28, 2003. Turkey needs to pass laws that will: 1) explicitly criminalize the financing of terrorism; 2) resolve
jurisdictional disputes between courts; 3) make it easier to seize terrorists, assets; 4) improve functioning of MASAK (the Turkish financial intelligence analysis unit); and 5) strengthen the Suspicious Transaction reporting regime. Turkey is drafting legislation that Turkish officials say will meet these needs, and has requested U.S. and EU
assistance in drafting and implementation. The U.S. has initiated such assistance, and the EU plans to do so beginning in early 2004.

16. (U) Turkish efforts to seize the assets of those who fund terrorist organizations have been further hampered by insufficient training and limited cooperation between agencies. The U.S. and EU assistance referenced above is intended as well to address these deficiencies. The success of these efforts will in large part be dependent political
support from top levels of the GOT.


17. (U) State Security Courts (DGM) in eight provinces, with jurisdiction for all crimes that fall within the purview of the Anti-Terror Law, take a vigorous approach towards prosecuting terror-related crimes. Approximately 5,500 cases came before the State Security Courts in 2003, although not all were related to terrorism. Average trial times run more than a year, and defendants are usually incarcerated during
their trials.


18. (U) In 2003, the Republic of Turkey did not seek the extradition of any suspects from the United States on terror-related charges, nor did the United States seek the extradition of such suspects from Turkey. There are no impediments to host government prosecution and/or extradition of suspected terrorists.

19. (U) In the past, Turkey has faced difficulty in extraditing terror-related suspects from European countries. According to government officials, Turkey has requested the extradition of 245 high level administrators of terrorist organizations since 1991. Sympathy with Kurdish political and cultural aspirations in some European states, allegations of torture by Turkish officials, and Turkey's legal provision
for the death penalty have all proved impediments to such extraditions. However, in August 2002, as a part of the European Union reform package, the Turkish Parliament passed a law banning the use of the death penalty.


20. (U) Turks see themselves to be among the world's primary victims of terrorism. They cite the 15-year insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and the worldwide assassination campaign against the Turkish diplomats and their families by Armenian activists of the 1970s and 1980s. They have long complained about European countries' harboring Kurdish (PKK), leftist (DHKP-C) and Islamist (Hizbullah,
Kaplanists) terrorists. The Turkish government and media were quick to respond to the events of September 11. At all levels, there was an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity. There was widespread public sentiment that now others were beginning to experience what Turks had lived with for years. Turkey's pre-9/11 historic cooperation with the U.S. in law enforcement, military and intelligence activities has
increased over the last two years. There has been visible support for the security of Americans at our mission's buildings by local police.

21. (U) The Turkish stand on terrorism has been somewhat softer in the case of the Chechens. There are cultural and religious ties between Turks and Chechens, and both have had a long-time rivalry with Russia. The media treated the takeovers of a ferryboat in 1999 and a hotel in 2001 in Istanbul more like protests than terrorist attacks.

22. (U) The leftist and Islamic fringe press sometimes portrays Chechen rebels, Palestinian suicide bombers and even Al Qaida members as "freedom fighters." Terrorism has long been an interest of academics and writers in Turkey. In recent years there have been several conferences on the topic. Those organized by institutions of the State have been seen as tools in the fight against terrorism. Privately funded academic programs have focused more on analyzing the impact of terrorism and the root causes of terrorism.


23. (U) The Government of Turkey continued its aggressive
counterterrorism efforts in 2003. In addition to sharing intelligence information on various groups operating in Turkey, the Turkish National Police and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) conducted an aggressive counterterrorist campaign and detained numerous suspected terrorists in scores of raids, disrupting these groups before
terrorist acts could be carried out. In 2003 the GOT took into custody a number of high-level Al Qaida operatives.

24. (U) The GOT continues its active suppression of the
PKK/KADEK/KHK, though its security operations tempo has been
significantly reduced in line with a reduction in the conflict. It continues to monitor the organization's political movements in an effort to stem any potential disturbances.


25. (U) The GOT consistently and strongly opposes both domestic and international terrorism. Turkey does not view its maintenance of diplomatic or economic/commercial relations with Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria as constituting support for international terrorism.

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26. (U) Turkey shares borders with, and has been an historic trading partner of Syria, Iran and Iraq. It balances a condemnation of terrorist activities in those countries (including providing havens for the PKK) with the need to access historic trade routes. Public statements against
state-supported terrorism are clear.

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27. (U) Since the attacks of September 11, the GOT has taken
an active role in the worldwide opposition against terrorism.
In May 2002 the European Union placed the PKK and DHKP/C on
its list of terrorist groups after an intensive push by the GOT for the EU to adopt tougher measures against Turkish terror groups operating in Europe. Despite Turkish pressure, the EU never placed KADEK on its list of terrorist organizations. Turkish officials will now press the
international community to recognize the PKK/KADEK successor
group, KHK, as a terrorist organization.

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28. (U) Turkey remains a staunch ally in the War on Terrorism. The Turkish National Police (TNP) continues to provide excellent protection of U.S. diplomatic and military facilities throughout Turkey.

29. (U) In September and October 2003, USG officials met with
interagency Turkish teams to work out a joint action plan to eliminate the threat posed by the PKK/KADEK/KHK presence in northern Iraq. Turkey agreed to consider an information campaign to ensure that the terms of its "Reintegration Law" and the conditions to which Turkish refugees in Iraq and PKK/KADEK/KHK operatives surrendering under the law would return were well known in northern Iraq. The U.S. pledged to use all the elements of statecraft in eliminating the
PKK/KADEK/KHK threat. S/CT Coordinator Cofer Black announced
that the terrorist group had no future in northern Iraq. To generate momentum for returns to Turkey, the USG worked with the Turks and UNHCR in November to accelerate the voluntary repatriation of Turkish refugees in northern Iraq. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration SIPDIS Dewey met with Turkish and UNHCR reps in Ankara in late November to move this process forward.

30. (U) As noted above, Turkey is now in the process of modifying its domestic laws to comply with the UN Convention on Suppression of Terrorist Financing, which the GOT adopted in 2002.

31. (U) Turkey is also an active participant in the Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. Since 2001, the Turks have participated in 20 ATA courses, including Financial Underpinnings of Terrorism Seminar and a follow-on Financial Underpinnings of Terrorism Seminar for investigators.

(Information for the Report's classified annex)

32. (S) The Turkish Government continued to allow the use of
Incirlik AFB to support U.S. operations in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq, including:

- Allowed the U.S. to use Incirlik Air Base as a key transit point for humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan and Iraq;

- Authorized the U.S. to use Incirlik Air Base to transit Taliban and Al-Qaida detainees from Afghanistan to GTMO;

- Allowed the U.S. military to station tankers at Incirlik Air Base to support OIF- and OEF-related refueling missions;

- Contributed KC-135 tankers to support OEF-related operations;

- As a result of S/CT Coordinator Black,s enhanced intelligence sharing regarding PKK/KADEK/KHK as part of the joint action plan to eliminate the PKK/KADEK/KHK threat from Northern Iraq.


(Information for the Report's Classified Annex)

33. (C) The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United
States and Turkey, which entered into force in January 1981, governs investigative cooperation. The GOT has processed requests for investigative access to evidence under this treaty. However, in some cases the GOT has left requests unanswered for over three years.


34. (U) The GOT coordinates closely with the USG on anti-terrorist financing initiatives. In response to USG requests to freeze terrorist-related financial assets, the GOT has added to its domestic asset freeze list all names of individuals and firms designated under UNSCR 1267 (names related to financing of Taliban and al-Qaida). The GOT also investigates these names and freezes assets found in Turkey.

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35. (U) Overall, in the last five years, the GOT has worked closely with the USG in the apprehension, conviction, and punishment of those responsible for terrorist attacks in Turkey. GOT response is always immediate and substantial when alerted to threat or incident involving US interests.

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