Cablegate: Turkey: 2008 Country Reports On Terrorism


DE RUEHAK #2151/01 3571407
P 221407Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 120019

1. Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have
targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners in Turkey,
including, on occasion, USG personnel, for more than 40
years. Terrorist groups that operated in Turkey have included
Kurdish separatist, Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, and
pro-Chechen groups. Terrorism in Turkey is defined in the
Anti-Terror Law #3713 (TMK, 1991). "Terrorist" activities are
composed primarily of crimes outlined in the Penal Code
committed within the context of terrorist group activities,
which target the structure of the state, changing or
destroying the principles of the state, and aiming to create
panic and terror in society. Thus, Turkish law defines
terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish
state, and hampers Turkey,s ability to interdict those who
would target non-combatants globally. This, and the
government,s focus on the PKK, present the major challenges
for enhanced terrorist cooperation.

2. Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the
Kongra-Gel/Kurdistan Worker's Party (KGK/PKK). Composed
primarily of Kurds with a separatist agenda, the KGK/PKK
operated from bases in northern Iraq and directed its forces
to target mainly Turkish security forces. In 2006, 2007, and
2008, KGK/PKK violence claimed hundreds of Turkish lives.
The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a group designated under
E.O. 13224, is affiliated with the KGK/PKK and has claimed
responsibility for a series of deadly attacks on Turkish and
foreign citizens in Turkish cities in recent years. On 19
February 2008, TAK announced it would engage in a renewed
campaign of violence in Turkey. Both TAK and PKK claimed
responsibility for a car bomb on 19 August at a Mersin police
checkpoint and for a 23 August car bomb in a residential area
of Izmir. PKK also claimed responsibility for a car bomb in
Diyarbakir on 3 January, which killed six civilians and
wounded 70; it apologized for this attack, claiming that the
attackers were PKK members acting independently of orders.

3. In the midst of weeks of violence, during which KGK/PKK
attacks claimed scores of killed or wounded Turkish soldiers
and citizens, the Turkish parliament on October 17, 2007,
overwhelmingly passed a motion authorizing cross-border
military operations against KGK/PKK targets in northern Iraq.
Turkish forces carried out extensive operations along the
Turkey-Iraq border in the latter part of the year. On
November 5th, President Bush committed to provide Turkey
"real-time, actionable intelligence" to counter the KGK/PKK
in northern Iraq. Throughout 2008, Turkey continued to carry
out strikes along the Turkey-Iraq border with increasing
frequency. In February, the Turks launched ground
operations into northern Iraq, targeting PKK locations, and
then disengaging by the end of the month. The Turkish
government claims that during 2008, 657 PKK members were
killed, 161 were captured, and 161 surrendered in skirmishes.
In addition, 120 PKK members turned themselves over to
Turkish authorities under the terms of a repentance law
passed in 2005.

4. Other prominent terrorist groups in Turkey included the
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a
militant Marxist-Leninist group with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO
views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state;
and Turkish Hizballah (not affiliated with Lebanese
Hizballah), an organization of Sunni Kurds with a violent
history. The Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front (IBDA-C) is
a decentralized Islamic revivalist group that was
particularly active in the 1990s; it claimed ties with
al-Qaida. A previously unknown terrorist organization,
Revolutionary Headquarters (Devrimci Karargah), an apparently
Marxist organization espousing an anti-imperialist,
anti-Zionist agenda, conducted two attacks in Istanbul in
2008, against political and military targets. News Reports
claim that this organization has merged with the remains of a
formerly active and bloody organization, DEV-SOL
(Revolutionary Left).

5. Investigations into an organization named Ergenekon,
allegedly composed of former military officials, bureaucrats,
politicians, journalists, and underworld figures, began in
2007, leading to arrests in the summer of 2008. Alleged
members of Ergenekon are on trial for a number of crimes
including terrorism charges. The details of the case are
murky, however, and Ergenekon,s status as a terrorist
organization is under debate.

6. Islamic radicals continue to target US and foreign
personnel in Turkey. On 9 July 2008, four gunmen attacked
the US consulate in Istanbul, killing three police officers.
The Turkish government arrested four alleged compatriots of
the attackers in the following days and claims that the
gunmen were affiliated with Al-Qaida. Earlier in the year,
the Turkish National Police (TNP) and the National
Intelligence Organization (MIT) conducted a successful series
of raids against suspected Al-Qaida affiliated terrorists.
In January, police raids in Gaziantep against an alleged
al-Qaida cell ended in firefights, leading to the deaths of
four suspects and the arrests of another 18. Follow-on raids
in April led to the detention of an additional 35 people; 24
were indicted. In mid-December, the Turks arrested another
60 suspected al-Qaida members in Istanbul, Izmir, and Manisa.

7. Turkey has consistently supported Coalition efforts in
Afghanistan. After commanding International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) II in 2002 and ISAF VII in 2005,
Turkey led the joint rotational command of the ISAF in
Afghanistan for the Capital Regional Command from April to
December 2007. Turkey is fielding a civilian Provincial
Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Wardak Province. It has also
undertaken training of Afghan police officials, politicians,
and bureaucrats in Turkey.

8. Turkey has provided significant logistical support to
Coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, authorizing the
use of Incirlik Air Base as an air-refueling hub for OEF and
OIF and as a cargo hub to transport non-lethal cargo to U.S.
troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost 60 percent of air
cargo for U.S. troops in Iraq transits Incirlik.
Establishment of this hub allows six C-17 aircraft to
transport the amount of goods it took nine to ten aircraft to
move from Germany, and saves the United States almost $160
million per year. Between one-third and two-thirds of the
fuel destined for the Iraqi people and more than 25 percent
of fuel for Coalition Forces transits from Turkey into Iraq
via the Habur Gate border crossing. Turkey was active in
reconstruction efforts, including providing electricity to
Iraq. Turkey contributed headquarters personnel to the NATO
Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) and completed military
leadership training in Turkey for 89 Iraqi officers as a
further contribution to the NATO NTM-I.

9. The Turkish government has proposed a number of reforms
to its counterterrorism and intelligence structure. The
reform proposals predate 2008, but were given a sharper focus
following a PKK attack in October against a military outpost
at Aktutun in southeastern Turkey. The proposals are still
in the formative stage, but will probably include the
establishment of a body within the Ministry of Interior )
the Undersecretariat for Security ) to better coordinate
counterterrorism efforts, intelligence, and policy. It is
expected that in the restructuring, the Jandarma ) a force
jointly administered by the military and the Ministry of
Interior ) would be placed fully under civilian control.

10. In October 2006, a new law went into effect giving
MASAK, Turkey,s Financial Crimes Investigation Board, sole
responsibility for financial investigation of money
laundering and financing of terrorism (ML/FT). In its
February 2007 peer review report, the Financial Action Task
Force (FATF) evaluated Turkish standards to combat ML/FT.
Among its major findings was that although the new
legislation has been in place only a short time, the number
of convictions for money laundering was relatively low,
confiscation measures have not yet produced substantial
results, and the number of suspicious transaction reports was
also relatively low.

11. Pursuant to its obligations under UNSCR 1267 and
subsequent resolutions, Turkish officials continued to
circulate UN and U.S.-designated names of terrorists to all
law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and to financial
institutions. Only UN-listed names, however, were subjected
to asset freezes enforced through a Council of Ministers
decree. This legal mechanism for enforcing sanctions under
UNSCR 1267 was challenged in Turkish courts by UN-designated
terrorist financier Yasin al-Kadi, whose assets had been
frozen by the state. Following a series of legal action, the
decree freezing his assets has been successfully challenged
but is still in effect pending appeal.

12. Point of contact: Jason Arvey (

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