Turkish officials see link between Israel and Kurdish rebels

Israeli Heron UAVBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Turkish intelligence agencies have authored a report detailing alleged Israeli assistance to Kurdish rebels, whose goal is to secede from Turkey and create an independent Kurdish homeland, according to a leading Turkish newspaper. The Ankara-based Zaman said the intelligence report was commissioned after Turkish forces detected Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) conducting reconnaissance missions over Turkey. The paper, which is tacitly affiliated with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, said the UAVs were spotted flying over Turkey’s Adana and Hatay provinces, both of which are adjacent to Turkey’s border with Syria. As intelNews reported last August, Turkey’s main intelligence directorate, the MİT, is convinced that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has increased its clandestine support for the largest Kurdish secessionist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in an attempt to court Syria’s 500,000-strong Kurdish minority. According to the Zaman news report, airborne intelligence collected by Israeli Heron UAVs is shared with PKK guerrillas, who then use it to construct training bases in Syrian border regions. This explains, claims the paper, why most PKK training bases in Syria are located “in areas that are known to be weak spots for the Turkish military”. The report also claims that Turkish intelligence has verified that senior PKK military commander Kenan Yıldızbakan has visited Israel “several times” in recent months. Yildizbakan is believed to have commanded a brazen PKK assault on a Turkish naval base in İskenderun in 2010, which killed seven and wounded four members of the Turkish armed forces. Read more of this post

Turkey expelled Dutch spy posing as diplomat, says newspaper

AIVD headquarters in AmsterdamBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Turkey secretly deported a Dutch intelligence officer posing as a diplomat, according to a leading Dutch newspaper. According to Amsterdam-based De Volkskrant, the unnamed Dutch spy held a diplomatic post at the embassy of the Netherlands in Turkish capital Ankara. In reality, however, he was an intelligence officer in the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), Holland’s domestic intelligence agency. He was quietly expelled last year, says the paper, and is currently serving at another Dutch embassy in the Middle East. De Volkskrant notes that the reason why the Turkish government decided to expel the AIVD officer remains unclear. The paper quotes one unnamed member of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who, when questioned about the expulsion, said simply: “sorry but that’s a no go zone […]; I love my career and my family”. However, the article hints that the intelligence spat may have been sparked by differences between Ankara and Amsterdam over Turkey’s Kurdish minority and its nationalist organizations, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Founded in the 1970s, the PKK leads Kurdish secessionist aspirations for a Kurdish homeland incorporating parts of Turkey’s far-eastern Anatolia region, as well as parts of Iraq and Syria. According to De Volkskrant, in 2006 the AIVD stationed for the first time a liaison officer at the Dutch embassy in Ankara, whose mission was to collaborate with Turkey’s MİT intelligence service in collecting intelligence on Kurdish secessionist groups. However, the collaboration appears to have turned sour after Turkey accused the Dutch government of allowing many Kurdish activists, which it accuses of inciting terrorism, to claim political asylum in Holland. Moreover, Ankara has accused Dutch authorities of turning a blind eye to PKK recruiting and fundraising operations in Holland, organized by the sizeable Kurdish expatriate community in the country. Read more of this post

Turkish spy agency in secret Oslo talks with Kurdish PKK

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By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The war between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which culminated in the early 1990s, has flared up again, ever since the creation of the US-protected Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq. Currently, the Turkish military is technically at war with the PKK, a leftist secessionist movement that aspires to create a Kurdish homeland comprising mostly of territories in Turkey’s Anatolia region. But a leaked audio recording posted on the Internet last week shows that senior Turkish intelligence officials have been participating in secret talks with the leadership of the PKK, since at least 2010. Several Kurdish news agencies published the recording of one such secret meeting, involving the leadership of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The recording features a frank discussion between, on the one side, the head of MİT, Hakan Fidan, and its deputy director, Afet Güneş; the two are heard deliberating with Sabit Ok, Zübeyr Aydar and Mustafa Karasu, all of whom are senior PKK officials and wanted dead or alive by the Turkish state. A voice of an apparent mediator —marked by a distinct Scandinavian accent— can be heard speaking at the beginning. The mediator mentions that the meeting is the fifth installment of a series of encounters called “The Oslo Talks”. According to Turkish daily Hürriyet, the mediator appears to be a government official from Norway, which probably hosted the secret meeting(s) somewhere in its capital city. Shortly following the mediator’s introduction, Fidan is heard saying that he is acting as a “special envoy of […] prime minister” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The leaked recording disappeared from Kurdish websites soon after it was posted, and some Kurdish media sources said that it had been aired by “anonymous hackers”. Read more of this post

Lebanon charges PKK Kurds with spying for Israel

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By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Lebanese authorities have detained three alleged members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on charges of spying for Israel. The three arrestees, whose names have not been released to the media, were reportedly arrested last week by Lebanese military intelligence forces in Jounieh, a town located on the Mediterranean coast, about 15 kilometers north of Beirut. The arrests form part of a wider Lebanese counterintelligence offensive that has netted over 100 alleged Israeli agents in Lebanon since April of 2009. But news of the detentions have inflamed an ongoing discussion in Turkey about alleged covert links between Israeli intelligence agencies and Kurdish separatists operating in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Read more of this post