Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2018, 07:53 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Turkey

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Turkey, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 24 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: Turkey is a long-standing counterterrorism partner of the United States. It co-chairs the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) with the United States, and received U.S. assistance to address the terrorist threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 2012.

The limited definition of terrorism under Turkish law, restricted to activities targeting the Turkish state and its citizens, represented an impediment to effective action by Turkey against global terrorist networks. For example, although Turkish police temporarily detained several al-Qa'ida (AQ)-affiliated operatives attempting to transit through Turkey illegally in 2012, Turkish authorities chose to deport these individuals to their countries of origin quickly rather than pursue domestic legal action against them, at least in part because of the lack of appropriate legal tools.

In 2012, Turkey faced a significant internal terrorist threat and has taken strong action in response. Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the PKK. Composed primarily of ethnic Kurds with a nationalist agenda, the PKK operates from areas in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq and targets mainly Turkish security forces. Other prominent terrorist groups in Turkey include 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 (unrelated to the similarly-named Hizballah that operates in Lebanon). Public sources also highlighted detentions of Islamic Jihad Union members as well as supporters of AQ and other groups. The Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army, though largely inactive, was also considered a potential threat by the Turkish government.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: The PKK continued to demonstrate its nation-wide reach. Typical tactics, techniques, and procedures included ambushes of military patrols in the countryside, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along known military or police routes, and bombings of both security and civilian targets in urban areas. According to the NATO Centre of Excellence-Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara, there were 226 terrorist incidents reported through November. The following 12 attacks garnered particular attention and condemnation:

  • On March 1, an explosion near the ruling party's headquarters in Istanbul wounded at least 16 people, most of them policemen traveling by bus. No claim of responsibility was issued.

  • On March 5, a small bomb exploded near the Turkish Prime Ministry building in Ankara about an hour before a cabinet meeting was scheduled; one person was injured.

  • On May 25, a policeman was killed and 18 others wounded in a suicide bombing outside a police station in the central Turkish province of Kayseri.

  • On August 4, clashes between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military near the Iraqi border left 22 people dead, according to reports quoting the area's governor. Turkish media reported the rebels launched simultaneous attacks on Turkish border posts, causing casualties in the village of Gecimli in Hakkari province.

  • On August 9, a vehicle belonging to the Turkish Navy was bombed in Foca, a small coastal resort north-west of Izmir; two navy personnel were killed and another was injured.

  • On August 20, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded outside a police station in Gaziantep, close to the border with Syria. At least nine people were killed and 69 were injured, most of them police officers. Security officials suspected the PKK was behind the attack, although the group later denied this.

  • On September 2, around 100 suspected PKK fighters simultaneously attacked four government and security buildings in the small town of Beytüssebap, near the Syrian border, killing at least 10 soldiers and three of the attackers; seven soldiers were injured.

  • On September 11, a policeman was killed and several injured in a suicide bombing at a police station in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul. The DHKP-C claimed responsibility.

  • On September 16, a roadside bombing in Turkey's southeastern Bingol Province killed eight soldiers and injured nine others, less than a day after four officers were killed in an attack near the borders with Iran and Iraq.

  • On September 18, PKK militants killed 10 soldiers and wounded at least 60 when they fired rockets at a military convoy traveling between the provinces of Bingol and Mus in eastern Turkey.

  • On September 25, an IED hidden in a car exploded as an Army patrol was passing by in the eastern Turkish city of Tunceli, killing six soldiers and a civilian. Several others were injured in the blast, which authorities blamed on the PKK.

  • On December 11, one police officer was killed and two civilians were injured in an attack in the Gaziosmanpasa district of Istanbul.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Council of Europe Convention on Prevention of Terrorism entered into force for Turkey on July 1, 2012. Also, Turkey deposited the instrument of ratification for the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism on September 24.

As a result of ongoing military operations targeting PKK forces, 494 insurgents were killed, 21 injured, and 44 arrested, while 155 surrendered themselves to the authorities during the first 10 months of the year. Counterterrorism law enforcement efforts in Turkey remained focused on the domestic threat posed by several terrorist groups, including the PKK. Turkey's methodology and legislation are geared towards confronting this internal threat.

Efforts to counter international terrorism are hampered by legislation that defines terrorism narrowly as a crime targeting the Turkish state or Turkish citizens. This definition of terrorism posed concerns for operational and legal cooperation. Several AQ-affiliated operatives were temporarily detained by Turkish National Police (TNP) authorities while transiting Turkey, but were deported to their countries of origin as expeditiously as possible. Also, criminal procedure secrecy rules prevent TNP authorities from sharing investigative information once a prosecutor is assigned to the case.

In the aftermath of the 2011 TNP arrest of 16 people involved in an AQ cell who were likely targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara among other locations, U.S. Embassy officials have been denied any additional information regarding the conduct of the case.

Article 157 of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code states: "Unless provided otherwise by the code and under the requirement to not harm the defense rights, procedural interactions during the investigation phase shall be kept a secret." This language has been interpreted by Turkish prosecutors and police to require an investigation to remain secret once a prosecutor becomes involved in a criminal case. After the investigation, the evidence and files are transferred from the prosecutor to the court where they are also sealed. Only parties to a case may access court-held evidence. This legal interpretation has resulted in limited information sharing on criminal cases between U.S. and Turkish law enforcement officials.

The TNP received training in counterterrorism skills through the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. The TNP has highly developed counterterrorism capabilities in a number of areas and is planning to expand its law enforcement training for other countries in the region.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Turkey is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and an observer of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, a FATF-style regional group. In February 2010, the FATF publicly identified Turkey for its strategic deficiencies in its counterterrorist financing regime. At that time, Turkey had provided a high-level political commitment to address these deficiencies by December 2010. Due to Turkey's continued lack of progress in adequately criminalizing terrorist financing and establishing a legal framework to freeze terrorist assets, the FATF downgraded Turkey to its Public Statement in June 2011. In October 2012, FATF issued a Public Statement noting that, "Given Turkey's continued lack of progress in these two areas, as a counter-measure, the FATF has decided to suspend Turkey's membership on February 22, 2013 unless the following conditions are met before that date: (1) Turkey adopts legislation to adequately remedy deficiencies in its terrorist financing offence; and (2) Turkey establishes an adequate legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorist assets consistent with the FATF Recommendations."

According to the Turkish Banks Act, Nr: 4389, only banks and special financial establishments are authorized to carry out banking activities, including money remittance or transfers. Informal banking networks are not allowed to operate in Turkey. A duly issued license is required for all kinds of banking activities. As alternative remittance services are illegal in Turkey, there is no regulatory agency that covers their activities.

The nonprofit sector is not audited on a regular basis for counterterrorist finance vulnerabilities and does not receive adequate AML/CFT outreach or guidance from the Turkish government. The General Director of Foundations issues licenses for charitable foundations and oversees them, but there are a limited number of auditors to cover the more than 70,000 institutions.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Turkey is a founding member of the GCTF and is co-chair along with the United States. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu co-chaired the second GCTF Ministerial meeting in Istanbul in June, and the third GCTF Ministerial in Abu Dhabi in December. As co-chair, Turkey has provided extensive secretariat support. Turkey also participates actively in the OSCE. Turkey has taken part in expert meetings on the prevention of violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism (VERLT) organized by the OSCE/Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Secretariat, including through the participation of the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the OSCE, as moderator of one session of the October 23-24 meeting on "Youth Engagement to counter VERLT."

The TNP also created a new multilateral training organization, the International Association of Police Academies, to increase sharing of policing research and best practices in the field of police education. The TNP offers 18 counterterrorism-related training programs at its Anti-Terrorism Academy that are designed primarily for law enforcement officers from Central Asian countries.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Government of Turkey has two significant programs in place to counter radicalization and violent extremism. The first, administered by the TNP, is a broad-based outreach program to affected communities, similar to anti-gang activities in the United States. Police work to reach vulnerable populations (before terrorists do) to alter the prevailing group dynamics and to prevent recruitment. Police use social science research to undertake social projects, activities with parents, and in-service training for officers and teachers. Programs prepare trainers, psychologists, coaches, and religious leaders to intervene to undermine radical messages and prevent recruitment. The second program, administered by the Turkish government's Religious Affairs Office (Diyanet), works to undercut violent extremist messaging. In Turkey, all Sunni imams are employees of the Diyanet. In support of its message of traditional religious values, more than 66,000 Diyanet imams throughout Turkey conducted individualized outreach to their congregations. Diyanet similarly worked with religious associations among the Turkish diaspora, assisting them to establish umbrella organizations and providing them access to instruction. Diyanet supported in-service training for religious leaders and lay-workers via a network of 19 centers throughout Turkey.

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