The Turkish Intelligence

One of the primary goals of the Turkish Secret Service, the MIT, is penetration/control of the Kurdish PKK. Another target is Fethullah Gûlen’s organization, namely Hizmet. The MIT has had very sound relations with the CIA since the 1950s and has always had good relations with the intelligence agencies of Russia and Middle Eastern countries but has never had an effective and stable network of agents and collaborations with European intelligence services

President of Turkey Racep Taip Erdogan. Archive photo: AP

The Turkish Secret Service, namely Milli Istihbarat Teşkilati (MIT), was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1925. However, only in 1985 - in a phase of great transformation of Turkish domestic policy - the Service was given its current name, the National Intelligence Office, and was also placed under the Prime Minister’s leadership and political cover (which is fundamental, unlike what currently happens in Italy).

Since the 1950s - when Turkey’s role became essential - in NATO’s Eastern Flank, MIT has had very sound relations with CIA. Nevertheless, MIT has never had an effective and stable network of agents and collaborations with the European intelligence Services, while it has always had good relations with the Russian Agencies; obviously, after 1992, with Azerbaijan, and even with the Singapore Services, as well as with all the Middle East intelligence services.

Obviously one of MIT’s primary and institutional goals is the penetration/control of the Kurdish PKK, born from a "Maoist" organization based in Ankara, which - after the military coup in 1971 - reorganized itself into a Marxist-Leninist political party, which obviously had a military arm that became predominant after 1984, as well as a strictly political and semi-visible network.

Another MIT’s institutional target is Fethullah Gûlen’s organization, namely Hizmet.

A vast religious-political network which initially supported Erdogan's party, the AKP, but then became its worst enemy.

Hizmet (the "Service") is a community that had its origins in the cemaat, a traditional Sufi organization typical of Anatolia, but later - in the phase of the Turkish economic boom, born with the regime of Turgut Ozal, Prime Minister from 1983 to 1989, and then President of the Republic from 1989 to 1993, the year of his death - became a great network for business.

In that second phase, Hizmet became a solid economic power - although we must not forget its humanitarian role - and, according to some analysts, it later became a Parallel Yapi, a "parallel structure".

The three tiers of Gûlen's organization are sapiential and cultural at the highest levels, but they presuppose a precise and almost military organization at the lowest levels, operating in universities, newspapers, media and production structures.

An "Islamic Calvinism" - as it was defined - with the primary idea of making the dream of an all-pervasive and, above all, "political" Islam come true, albeit with charity and benevolence.

It is no coincidence that Gûlen’s movement is outlawed by the Gulf monarchies, by Pakistan and by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, while the EU and the USA do not consider Hizmet a terrorist organization.

The tension between the AKP and Gûlen’s movement initially arose with the Gezi Park movement in June 2013, when Hizmet’s leader polemicized against the too heavy hand used by Erdogan's government with students.

Later some investigators notoriously linked to Gûlen’s movement publicly accused the sons of some Ministers, without even sparing Erdogan.

The attempted coup in July 2016 led Erdogan to accuse Gûlen’s movement of having entirely organised and directed it.

That was not true, but it was the best idea to justify Erdogan’s scrapping of the Turkish Armed Forces and, previously, of the hidden network called Ergenekon.

Hakan Fidan, the Head of the Turkish intelligence Services, was completely involved in those designs of the AKP State and its President Erdogan, of whom he has always been a loyal, but intelligent executor, even though he had a rather complicated career in the intelligence Services: he was Head of MIT (and hence Undersecretary of State) from 2010 until 2015, but on February 7, 2015, he resigned to run for elections, obviously in the AKP ranks.

A month after the acceptance of his candidacy as parliamentarian, Hakan Fidan resigned again - this time at political level - and immediately returned to his previous post as Head of MIT.

He also participated - sometimes almost alone - in the very secret peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdish PKK, held in Oslo in 2009, but then Fidan organized above all the smuggling networks - not only the oil ones - between Iran and Turkey.

Hence the news - already public at the time - according to which Hakan Fidan met with Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Al Quds Force of the Iranian Pasdaran, in Tehran in 2014.

The meeting took place in a parking, away from prying eyes and, above all, from any possible operative of the Turkish Embassy in the Iranian capital.

The meeting between the two Heads of their respective intelligence Services took place during Erdogan's State visit to Iran at the end of January of that year.

Therefore various reliable sources stated that Hakan Fidan was in fact an asset, a source and hence an agent of influence of the Iranian intelligence Services in Turkey.

In that capacity, he allegedly met Soleimani to report to him confidential data on the Turkish Government and on Erdogan’s real intentions at the time, and, above all, during the war in Syria.

A great business for Turkey and, in any case, a phase in which the country redefined its geopolitical coordinates - successfully for the time being.

In fact, Hakan Fidan was also the subject of checks and investigations by the Turkish counter-espionage, especially at a time when it had discovered and exploited some operational intelligence networks in Turkey linked to the Pasdaran.

Hence Hakan Fidan’s double loyalty was verified: the specific intelligence unit of the Turkish Police was in fact able to record the transmissions and communications of the Al Quds Force, especially those of General Sayed Ali Akber Mir Vakili, who was heard by the Turkish CS for having received the recording of a confidential meeting of the Turkish Government directly from Hakan Fidan.

But, obviously any intelligence agent never says anything about his sources on the phone or by any other means.

What if Hakan Fidan was used also by his government to come to an agreement with Iran?

What if Hakan Fidan was really Erdogan's instrument to arrive at a collaboration with Iran on Syria and, above all, in the framework of the Astana talks and of the future Iranian oil and gas networks towards the Mediterranean?

Certainly Vakili was well trained to avoid being identified or heard, but the Turkish police operatives had planted a bug in Mir Vakili's car, driven by his trusted man, Hakki Selgiuk Sanli, a Turk with extensive criminal experience, who was also the key man in setting up the Turkish network of the Al Quds Force in the 1990s, under the orders of Iranian General Nasir Takipur.

Sanli was arrested on May 13, 2000 and sentenced to 12 years and 6 months of prison, due to his participation in a terrorist organization linked to Iran, which aimed at carrying out attacks against Turkish and American targets.

Sanli, however, was released in 2004, with an amnesty signed by Erdogan's own government.

Finally, the recording from the bug in Mir Vakili's car gave all the coordinates of Hakan Fidan’s passage of confidential information on Turkey to Iranians.

Mir Vakili, for example, told Sanli he had spoken with Hakan Fidan (codename "Emin") and he had learned of a scandal that was mounting in Erdogan's government at the very beginning of the Gezi Park protests.

Erdogan, in fact, immediately wanted to crack down hard on the Gezi Park revolt, while Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinç wanted to come to a negotiation with the occupiers.

Arinç, in fact - who was acting on behalf of Erdogan who was travelling to Africa - had already tried to reach an agreement with the insurgency leaders. Nevertheless, the President returned from his African tour and, after six hours of insults, he stopped Arinç's attempts. However, it was Fidan himself who revealed to his Iranian contacts how Erdogan was particularly harsh on them too, of whom he suspected some heavy hand in the riots in Turkey at the time.

Mir Vakili and Hakan Fidan often saw each other in Turkey, especially in a well-known café in the centre of Ankara's Ĉukurambar district, an area where there was a large amount of Islamists considered "radical" by Western banal standards.

Erdogan also thinks that Gűlen's network has something to do with AKP's growing distance from Islamism, which Westerners always foolishly define as "moderate", which would lead to a rapid downsizing of that party and hence to the end of Erdogan's power.

Inter alia, it is now ascertained that Hakan Fidan had already organized some meetings between Mir Vakili, Erdogan himself and the then Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, who developed his "zero problems with neighbours" policy.

And again, it was Hakan Fidan who provided security cover for Mir Vakili, when he came to Ankara with his family and some friends for shopping. Fidan even provided a State plane to the Pasdaran General, so that he and his friends could go back safely to Tehran.

In all likelihood, this shows that - in his relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran - Hakan Fidan has the government’s full support and, more importantly, President Erdogan’s personal support.

However, which is the origin of Hakan Fidan's interest in Shiism, to which he probably belongs?

The Head of the Turkish intelligence Services studied Shiite tradition and symbolism especially when he was a very young volunteer non-commissioned officer in the Turkish forces.

It was at that moment that he was noticed by the Iranian Al Quds Force, a military structure dealing with special missions, intelligence and unconventional operations abroad.

Later it was Erdogan who studied him and then decided to appoint him, at first, as Director of the Agency for Support to Development (TIKA), then as Undersecretary of State and, in 2010, as MIT Director.

The lawsuit concerning the Head of the Al Quds Force in Turkey, Mir Vakili, for his relations with Hakan Fidan, was initiated when a criminal offence was reported by an anonymous person on August 8, 2010.

In fact, it was a 54-year-old woman, Kamile Yazicioglu, who had escaped from his partner, who informed the counterintelligence of the fact he had worked, for many years, for the Iranian intelligence and she brought to the police's attention documents that proved it.

She repeated her testimony in the appropriate fora, in sittings dating back to March and April 2011.

This led to the beginning of a careful, three-yearly analysis of Ms. Yazicioglu's partner by Turkish counterintelligence.

The case was coded 2011/762 by Turkey’s bureaucracy.

It turned out, almost immediately, that Ms. Yazicioglu's partner was in direct contact with Hakan Fidan.

Furthermore, the lady's partner had had problems with the police because he had taken part in the "Night for Jerusalem", an anti-Zionist demonstration in favour of the application of Koranic law in Turkey - a street movement that had taken place in Ankara, Sincan district, at the end of January 1997.

On that occasion, there was a fiery speech by the Iranian Ambassador to Turkey.

Yazicioglu was also responsible for education and culture in the Sincan district. He organized a Shiite religious event, which was one of the reasons why the Armed Forces "closed down" the government in 1997, thus putting an end to it.

In fact, the Turkish military structures sent some tanks to show Sincan to what extent the Islamist initiative had been disliked by the Turkish Armed Forces’ leadership.

In that case, Yazicioglu was sentenced to over three years of prison for having supported a terrorist organization.

After his release, he moved to Istanbul, where he was not noticed until 2008, when he was reactivated by the Iranian intelligence.

Moreover, Yazicioglu had maintained excellent relations with the murderers of the journalist, Ugur Mumcu, and of the university Professor, Muammer Aksoy.

The fact is that, according to many testimonies, Hakan Fidan remained in close contact with the Iranians’ informant and met him several times.

Both Fidan's son and Yazicioglu's son were enrolled at the Bilkent University of Ankara, and they were used as channels of communication between the two.

Yazicioglu's partner always proclaimed she had always had close relations with MIT, and in any case she had several passports hidden in her house, as well as copies of reports written by her husband for the Iranian intelligence Services.

The primary task entrusted to her husband and her son by Iran was to supervise the Nuclear Research and Training Centre in Čekmece, Istanbul, probably sitting in a car to report remarkable data on a map, possibly with some explanatory notes.

The Turkish operative had also drawn the escape routes and the confidential entrances of that Nuclear Research and Training Centre - a sign that he knew it well and from inside.

A job as labourer of the intelligence Services, however, which certainly did not allow to have access to the top managers, as it happened to Yazicioglu with Hakan Fidan.

Ms. Yazigioclu also stated before the Turkish CS that her former husband had satellite photos of the US Consulate in Istanbul and of the Israeli one.

Never underestimate an angry wife. The files found in Yazicioglu's house also concerned confidential military maps of the Adana and Gaziantep provinces - now very important for the issue of migrants from Syria - and a series of personal files of public figures, including those of some government members as well as senior leaders of the ruling party, the AKP.

Another document found at Yazicioglu's house - again thanks to Ms. Yazicioglu’s help - concerned the names of young Turks included in some terrorist organizations linked to the Pasdaran, especially young people who expressed strongly anti-American and anti-Semitic views.

The documents seized also concerned the methods of reporting and meeting with the Iranian agents, as well as a video of the Turkish police showing a meeting between Yazicioglu and the current Head of the al Quds Force in Turkey, Naser Ghafari, who had the cover of political attaché at the Consulate General of Iran to Ankara.

In May 2019, however, also Bashar el Assad revealed he had direct contacts with Hakan Fidan in Tehran, but also on the Kassab border, where the Syrian leader expressed his willingness to meet Erdogan as soon as possible.

In an interview with the Turkish journalist Mehmet Yuva, Assad stated he wanted to cooperate with Turkey, and also maintained that Syria did not deal with Turkey only indirectly - through Russia or Iran - but also through direct meetings in various external fora.

Moreover, Erdogan knows very well the U.S. "federal case" regarding an Iranian executive called Reza Zarrab, who had been operating for years to avoid or manipulate U.S. sanctions against his country.

Zarrab bribed many Turkish Ministers and officials, including some members of Erdogan's family.

Probably, the mechanism put in place by Zerrab provided Erdogan's family with vast wealth, in addition to other sources of income.

As noted above, it was precisely Mir Vakili who informed us - through Zerrab - that there were problems with the Turkish State bank, Halkbank, and made us read about the relations between Zerrab and the then Turkish Economy Minister, Zefer Caglayan.

The Minister himself enabled Zerrab to move the funds for foreign operations without any problems, promising the Halkbank executives substantial commissions on transfers.

Mir Vakili also informed - per tabulas - of the fact that there was another Iranian operative behind Zerrab's operations.

As proven by documents, after the appointment of Hakan Fidan as Head of MIT, Erdogan himself met the Head of the Iranian network in Turkey - who, at the time, was again Mir Vakili - to discuss the Iranian oil operations through Turkey and to proceed to a possible alliance between Iran - that Erdogan has often called his "second home" - and the Turkish commercial and political elites.

Professor Valori is President of the International World Group (IWG)

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