Cablegate: Turkey: 2004 Annual Terrorism Report

Published: Mon 20 Dec 2004 02:42 PM
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 007059
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2014
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Robert S. Deutsch; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) Combating terrorism has long been a priority for the Government of Turkey (GOT). In 2004, Turkey continued its strong support of the coalition in the global war against terror in Afghanistan by agreeing to assume command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for a second time. It will command ISAF VII from February to August 2005, contributing up to 1,500 troops.
2. (U) 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 most domestically-based terrorism. Overall, Turkey continues to support the USG's international, coordinated approach, but that support can be modulated, particularly
when Turkish citizens are part of investigations.
3. (U) A criminal trial is underway for dozens of defendants allegedly involved in the November 2003 Istanbul bombings. The lead defendants have admitted to contacts with Al-Qaedaand warned of further attacks if Turkey continues to cooperate with the U.S. and Israel. However, most of the other defendants denied any responsibility for or knowledge of the bombings. Verdicts and sentences are not expected
until sometime next year.
4. (U) On March 9, a suicide attack against an Istanbul Masonic lodge killed two and wounded seven. There appear to be connections between this attack and the murder of a Jewish dentist in Istanbul in 2003, as well as with the November 2003 bombings (one of those arrested and charged after this attack is also a defendant in that trial). The circumstances of this attack, moreover, suggest that it may have been executed by Islamic extremists against what they believed was
a "Zionist" or Jewish target. Thirteen suspects were originally charged and a criminal trial is underway.
U.S. Designated Terrorist Organizations
5. (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. (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.)
6. (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 continued to target Turkish and western interests after the Iraq war 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 more than 30 bombing attacks against Turkish targets in 2004. They continue to attack U.S. foreign policy in their rhetoric,
especially with regard to Iraq, and credible reporting continues to suggest that American interests remain on their target list. In a series of attacks launched prior to the 2004 NATO Summit, DHKP/C and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) placed or attempted to place IEDs on the fringes of the pre-Summit security perimeters to signal their
displeasure with political events in Iraq and embarrass the GOT prior to hosting NATO members. A Turkish policeman was seriously injured when one of these IED's planted near the hotel where the U.S. President was to stay was detonated.
7. (U) The second active far-left terrorist organization is the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). MLKP conducts small-scale terrorist operations, usually using IEDs called "sound bombs," within metropolitan areas. MLKP continues to conduct 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. MLKP is deemed responsible for a sound bomb attack on the Ankara Turkish American Association in 2004. Other far-left terrorist organizations that have followings in Turkey include the Turkish Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML), Turkish Workers'and the
Peasants Liberation Army (TIKKO). TKP/ML and TIKKO primarily
operate in the areas of Ordu, Tokat, and Samsun.
Radical Islamist
8. (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 2004 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.
9. (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 2003, 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, and IBDA-C has a track record of claiming responsibility for a range of terrorist actions..
10. (U) KHK or Kongragel, formerly known as the PKK and, later, KADEK, is the largest separatist organization in Turkey. The group has stated that it intends again to launch attacks against the GOT in Turkey's western cities. The group's capabilities for such activities remain an open question. 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. In November 2003, KADEK changed its name to the Kurdistan People,s Congress (KHK or Kongragel) and now claims to be an organized political group advocating Kurdish rights.
11. (U) In the summer of 2004, 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 multiple incidents in the Southeast of PKK/KADEK/KHK terrorist actions or in which Turkish security forces clashed with
PKK/KADEK/KHK militants. From June 1 to October 28, 2004, 60
Turkish security personnel, 13 civilians, and 58 terrorists were killed and 865 terrorists captured, according to information from the GOT. PKK/KADEK/KHK maintains approximately 500-armed militants in Turkey and up to 5,000 armed militants in Northern Iraq, according to Turkish government experts and NGOs. As part of the GWOT, the U.S.
is committed to eliminating the threat to Turkey posed by the
Chechens in Turkey
12. (U) Although Chechen terrorists did not conduct any major operations in Turkey in 2004, 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.
13. (U) The capitalized titles below correspond to reftel questions.
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14. (U) Turkey remained a strong and active contributor to the Global War on Terrorism effort. A number of factors make U.S. policies, notably affecting Iraq, unpopular in Turkey. Over time, this could undermine Turkey's strong support of the GWOT. Turkey agreed to assume command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for a second time. It will command ISAF VII from February to August 2005, contributing up to 1,500 troops.
15. (U) Turkey 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. They also allowed Incirlik to be used for the outbound rotation of US troops returning from
Iraq. Turkey was also active in reconstruction efforts, including the provision of electricity to Iraq and the training of Iraqi diplomats. Some 70 Turkish citizens have been killed while supporting U.S. forces or reconstruction in Iraq. It has contributed headquarters personnel to the NATO training mission in Iraq and offered senior military leadership training in Turkey as a further contribution to NATO's Iraq training mission.
16. (U) Turkey has also been an active partner on other fronts in the global war on terrorism and international security: Our militaries coordinated assistance to Georgia and Azerbaijan, improving their abilities to protect important energy transportation routes. Turkey subscribes to every arms control arrangement it is eligible to join,
including the Proliferation Security Initiative. Ankara has been supportive of international efforts to convince Iran to meet its commitments to the IAEA. The Turkish military's Partnership for Peace Training Center provides counterrorism and other training to personnel from PFP partner countries. The military also established a NATO Center of Excellence for the Defense Against Terrorism that will provide more specialized training opportunities for both NATO partner
nations and alliance members beginning in 2005.
17. (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. The US and EU have begun assisting Turkey in drafting legislation and implementation that Turkish officials say will meet these needs.
18. (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 on political
support from top levels of the GOT.
19. (U) Parliament in June adopted legislation closing the State Security Courts (DGM), special courts designed to try cases involving terrorism and other "crimes against the State." Under the legislation, the Government created new specialized heavy penal courts to take on most of the former DGM caseload. The new courts have special powers similar to those of the DGMs. Average trial times run more than a year, and defendants in the specialized courts are usually incarcerated during their trials.
20. (U) In 2004, 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. In several instances where
countries in the region have sought rendition/extradition of
suspected terrorists located on Turkish territory, the process has proven difficult.
21. (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.
22. (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.
23. (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.
24. (U) The leftist and Islamic fringe press sometimes
portrays Chechen rebels, Palestinian suicide bombers and even
Al Qaida members of Anti-Iraqi forces 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.
25. (U) The Government of Turkey continued its aggressive
counterterrorism efforts in 2004. 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. They committed a high
level of resources to insuring the security surround the NATO
Summit in Istanbul was a success. Working in partnership
with their NATO allies, the GOT carried out nurmeous
pre-emptive raids against suspected Al-Qa'ida-affiliated
plotters. Possiblty, as a result, there were no terrorist
incidents directly affecting the Summit. A similar but more
limited operation took place prior to the December visit of
Russian President Putin.
26. (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
27. (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, Libya, Sudan, and Syria as
constituting support for international terrorism.
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28. (U) Turkey shares borders with, and has been an historic
trading partner of Syria and Iran. 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. It has security
relations aimed principally at PKK/KADEK/KHK terrorists with
both Syria and Iran.
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29. (U) Since the attacks of September 11, the GOT has taken
an active role in the worldwide opposition against terrorism.
In November 2004, the High Military Council (YAS) announced
that the National Security Policy would be re-written to note
a shift in defense strategy from one focused on regional
threats to a focus on international terrorism, fundamentalist
and separatist threats. 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, with U.S. support, for
the EU to adopt tougher measures against Turkish terror
groups operating in Europe.
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30. (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. Prior to the June 2004 POTUS
visit and NATO Summit in Istanbul, Turkish National Police
were extremely active and aggressive in monitoring and, in
some cases, proactively detaining suspected terrorists.
31. (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
Dewey met with Turkish and UNHCR reps in Ankara in late
November to move this process forward. We continue to share
information on PKK/KADEK/KHK in order to limit their global
activities and in the expectation that circumstance in Iraq
will allow for trilateral collaberation (Turkey, Iraq,
U.S./MNF-I) on the safehavens and front parties there.
32. (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.
33. (U) Turkey is an active participant in the Department's
Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. Since 2001, the Turks
have participated in 27 ATA courses, to include the recently
developed Capstone series of anti-terror courses and
practical exercise, and a seminar on transnational terrorism
conducted at the ILEA Center in Budapest.
(Information for the Report's classified annex)
34. (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 to transit cargo
flights bound for Afghanistan and to a lesser extent those to
- Authorized the U.S. to use Incirlik Air Base to transit
Taliban and Al-Qaida detainees from Afghanistan to GTMO; and
for the transit of released GTMO detainees back to their
country of origin.
- 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
- 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.
- In March 2004, the Turkish General Staff's Intelligence
Directorate (J-2) began participating in a bilateral US-TU
"Intelligence Fusion Cell" designed to assist USCENTCOM
intelligence gathering against the PKK/KGK in northern Iraq.
TGS J-2 also responded quickly to US requests for information
on possible terrorist locations and some merchant ships of
(Information for the Report's Classified Annex)
35. (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.
36. (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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37. (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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