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Turkish Press Scanner

Turkish Press Scanner
Turkish Daily News Online, Turkish Press Scanner Section, Dec 6 1996

6 December, 1996, Copyright © Turkish Daily News

Turkish Press Scanner

National Security Board approval for the gang

From a Dec. 5 article by Radikal's Ismet Berkan: It all dates back to early 1992. At that time the Turkish Chief of Staff's office made radical changes in its strategy in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The military units which used to take action only after PKK attacks take place, engaging in hot pursuit, started to be organized as a guerrilla force. Now they were taking preemptive action. This change soon started bearing fruit. The PKK no longer had the initiative. Now the PKK was on the run with the soldiers at their heels.

In time the PKK withdrew one by one from the big settlements where it had been staging attacks, taking refuge in the mountains. But Turkey's "active fight" against terrorism was continuing. This time, the logistic support for the PKK in the mountains began to be cut down through village evacuations. The PKK had been weakened a lot, and seemed to be on the verge of being "finished off."

But the change in the strategy was not limited to the "low intensity war" in the region. It was decided that a "more active" drive was needed to dry up other sources of terrorism too. This way, with a little effort, this job would be "finished off next spring."

This would be a two-pronged effort. Terrorists would be caught -- or killed if necessary -- before they actually staged attacks. And the persons who provided the terrorists with material or moral support, would be given the same treatment as the terrorists themselves.

This change in strategy was put on the agenda of the National Security Board toward the end of 1992. A National Security Board document, seen by the author of this column, gives the chart of the organization which was to be created for this purpose, as well as the names of the persons who would take part in it. These names included Abdullah Catli (the fugitive who died in a car crash in Susurluk on Nov. 3 while traveling with a top police official and a parliamentary deputy). Those taking part in the organization would include some policemen who were members of the "special teams" (fighting against the PKK in the Southeast), certain soldiers and some of Catli's friends.

Initially the proposed tactics did not meet with approval from the National Security Board. Turgut Ozal, at that time president, and Esref Bitlis, at that time gendarmerie commander, both opposed the state taking action in cooperation with people who had no official status. I guess this is pure coincidence but first Gen. Bitlis and then Ozal died, the first one in an accident and the second due to a heart attack.

Suleyman Demirel became president and Tansu Ciller the prime minister. Initially Ciller was quite mild on the Southeast issue. She was talking about the Basque model and, with good intentions, having discussions with the opposition leaders on the issue. But after a short time she underwent a change. She became more hawkish than all the other hawks, declaring, "This (the PKK) will either be finished or it will be finished." It was obvious that she was convinced that "this would be finished". Since there was no one around raising objections anymore, the issue was brought to the National Security Board. And this new technique of struggle was approved in the fall of 1993. The organization, call it "Gladio" or "special organization," was founded with a decision taken by the National Security Board.

According to a statement made at that time, Turkey was spending more than $8 billion annually for the fight against the PKK. No doubt the PKK was also spending a lot in its fight against Turkey. Calculations done in the higher echelons of the state indicated that the PKK's war budget was no less than $3 billion. In the fall of 1993, the year in which Ciller became prime minister, the PKK had two main sources of income:

  • Money obtained through narcotics trade and through extortion
  • Donations collected in Europe etc.

    First the income coming from the European channel was cut off. Starting with Germany and France, the local authorities closed down the PKK associations and prevented them from collecting funds. The PKK went underground in these two countries.

    But there was also the income from narcotics trade. Here, the "special organization" had to become involved. We all remember that during those days Ciller was saying, "We will dry up the PKK's sources of income." Behcet Canturk, Savas Buldan, Yusuf Ekinci, Haci Karay, Adnan Yildirim, Medet Serhat and, in the latest instance, Omer Lutfu Topal. All these were figures involved in drug trafficking in this or that manner. None of them are alive today. They were transporting the narcotics either on behalf of the PKK or they had to pay extortion money. In either case the PKK was getting income. All of these people are now dead.

    Daily Ozgur Ulke was like a PKK publication. PKK leader Ocalan had a column in the paper, using a pen name, "Ali Firat." The head office and the branch offices of that daily have been bombed. It is being claimed that the Istanbul police caught the bombers but had to release them in line with the "orders received from high up."

    This article has been written entirely on the basis of a document which I was not permitted to photocopy. I was not permitted either to take some notes. I just had a chance to read it quickly. I wish that this piece of "news," the truth of which I measure by considering a lot of other things, proves false. Naturally, I have no doubt that it will be denied immediately. I just hope that those who will be denying it will be telling the truth.

    The critical document

    SABAH said it had gained access to a document of critical importance shedding light on the mysterious relationships exposed by the Susurluk incident. That is the document which enabled Catli to receive a gun licence. When he died in the crash Catli had in his possession that document along with his gun licence. The document, signed by then Interior Minister Mehmet Agar, identifies Mehmet Ozbay (alias Catli) as a General Security Department expert. Agar said he had no knowledge of such a document, that the signature must be a fake. The document is currently being examined by experts to determine whether it is genuine.

    Bucak interrogated by court

    CUMHURIYET said that one month after the Susurluk incident, True Path Party (DYP) Sanliurfa Deputy Sedat Bucak, the sole survivor of the crash, was interviewed by the Ankara State Security Court prosecutor in his house on Wednesday. This move comes, curiously, in the wake of DYP leader and Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller announcing, "We have given Bucak permission to give testimony." Sedat Bucak is the chief of the Bucak clan whose members, ethnic Kurds, form the bulk of the village guards who are armed and salaried by the state, fighting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Southeast.

    The Susurluk summit

    HURRIYET said that Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, having received directives from President Suleyman Demirel to dig into the Susurluk incident, met separately with Interior Minister Meral Aksener and Istanbul's police chief Kemal Yazicioglu on Wednesday night. First he met with Yazicioglu and asked him whether he had any "confession" cassettes concerning the Omer Lutfu Topal murder. (The main opposition ANAP maintains that three members of the special teams operating against the PKK have confessed to having killed casino king Topal in line with orders they had received from their superiors, and that the audio cassettes and transcripts of their statements to the police are now in the hands of state officials. Following the interrogation, instead of being brought to justice, these three policemen were assigned by the state as guards to DYP Deputy Sedat Bucak, the sole survivor of the Susurluk crash.) Yazicioglu said he had no such audio cassettes. Erbakan assured Yazicioglu that he would not be dismissed, and told him to dig into the incident without hesitation. Afterwards he received the interior minister and received information about the Omer Lutfu Topal murder. Aksener pledged firmly to solve the Topal case, then held a meeting with the ministry undersecretary and the security department officials.

    'Agca and Celik in danger'

    A YENI YUZYIL headline said, "Oral Celik's lawyer says there will be many more Susurluks." This was an excerpt from a story in Aktuel magazine, including an interview with Gentiloni Silvers, the Italian lawyer representing Oral Celik, an old friend of Abdullah Catli who has been implicated in several cases of political killings along with Catli and Mehmet Ali Agca, "the man who shot the pope." Silvers says that Catli was the key name behind the attack on Pope John Paul II as well as in heroin trafficking. He believes that Celik and Agca, both in prison, will be killed when they get released to silence them for good. According to Silver, Susurluk was not an accident and "many more Susurluks" are bound to happen. Aktuel also interviewed an Italian investigative reporter who had helped uncover the Gladio. The journalist in question, believes that Catli was affiliated with the central figures of Italy's notorious secret Gladio organization. Catli, Agca and Celik were operating under CIA guidance. And Catli could have been the "brain" of a Gladio-like organization in Turkey. Meanwhile, a RADIKAL headline said, "Gladio defrauds Ciller too," quoting Aktuel magazine. It is being claimed that in 1995 a man named Ahmet Demir, code-named "Yesil", was paid TL 25 billion to have PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan killed. Demir did not assassinate Ocalan but kept the money. Also, the bank slips pertaining to the $17 million extorted by Demir from casino king Omer Lutfu Topal, are in a file which is now before the country's highest authorities.

    Turkes: 'Yes, state has used Catli'

    YENI YUZYIL quoted Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Alparslan Turkes as saying, "On the basis of my state experience I admit that Catli has been used by the state," amid allegations that Catli and his ultra-rightist friends had been used by the state for undercover attacks on Armenian and PKK terrorists. Noting that Abdullah Catli, Huseyin Kocadag and Sedat Bucak could have come together "in the framework of a secret service working for the good of the state", he said, "the media's insistence brings to mind the possibility that this (Susurluk) may have been an assassination rather than an accident."

    Attackers' fee: $10,000

    HURRIYET referred to the man who punched the opposition ANAP leader Mesut Yilmaz in the nose in a Budapest hotel and fled with the help of two persons. A private TV channel, KANAL D, said the three were paid $10,000 for the attack which was allegedly ordered by telephone from Istanbul. The person who gave the "coded order" is said to be businessman Aydin Ipekci, the business partner of Abdullah Catli, the fugitive who died in the Susurluk crash.

    Ciller vetoes Iran

    MILLIYET said that Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller refrained from sending any delegates to the Muslim Parliamentarians meeting scheduled to begin in Tehran on Dec. 6. She asked Turkish deputies not to accept the invitation. The move comes in the wake of a parliamentary committee on border security saying in its report that Iran was supporting the PKK.

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