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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Turkey

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Turkey, 18 August 2011, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
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: Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners in Turkey, including on occasion U.S. government personnel, for more than 40 years. Terrorist groups that have operated in Turkey in the past have included Kurdish nationalist, Marxist-Leninist, pro-Chechen, as well as al-Qa'ida and its affiliates. Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Composed primarily of ethnic Kurds with a nationalist agenda, the PKK operated from bases in northern Iraq and directed its forces to target mainly Turkish security forces. PKK activity was lower in 2009 but increased again in 2010 during a May through October wave of violence. Other prominent terrorist groups in Turkey included 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. The Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army, though largely inactive, were still considered potential threats by the Turkish government.

Turkish terrorism law defines terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish state. This definition hampers Turkey's ability to interdict, arrest, and prosecute those who plan and facilitate terrorist acts to be committed outside of Turkey, or acts to be committed against non-Turkish citizens within Turkey. Nonetheless, Turkish counterterrorism cooperation with the United States continued to develop and improve.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: PKK attacks in 2010 once again demonstrated the nation-wide reach of the group. Typical tactics, techniques, and procedures included ambushes on 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. Three attacks received particular attention and condemnation:

  • A June bombing of a bus stop in Istanbul that killed five, including a 17-year-old girl, and wounded 13.

  • A September attack on a mini-van in Hakkari killed 10 civilians.

  • A November suicide-bomb attack in Istanbul's Taksim Square, which killed only the bomber due to an IED malfunction, injured 15 police officers and 17 civilians

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The narrow legal definition of terrorism as an act against the Turkish state in existing Turkish counterterrorism law poses concerns for joint and legal cooperation. In July, the government amended the Anti-Terror Law to prohibit prosecution of minors under the age of 15 under the law. Minors are now tried in juvenile courts rather than in criminal court as adults. Similarly, the Government of Turkey amended the Law on Demonstrations, allowing first time juvenile offenders – those not convicted of an offense involving weapons or arson – to be subject to administrative sanctions rather than sent to prison. These amendments resulted in more than 200 children being released from detention, a development that was welcomed by many human rights groups and ethnic Kurds. Human rights groups continued to allege, however, that overly-broad application of the Anti-Terror Law was still used by the government as a means to stifle legitimate political protest and expression of Kurdish identity or minority viewpoints.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Pursuant to its obligations under UNSCR 1267 and subsequent resolutions, Turkish officials continued to circulate UN-designated names of terrorists to all law enforcement and intelligence agencies and to financial institutions. Turkish officials also distributed U.S.-designated names to the security services for their awareness, although only UN-listed names were subjected to asset freezes enforced through a Council of Ministers decree.

In February, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) identified Turkey as a jurisdiction with significant anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) vulnerabilities, chief among them was Turkey's incomplete criminalization of terrorist financing and weak national asset freezing mechanisms. In coordination with the FATF's International Cooperation Review Group, the Government of Turkey made a high-level commitment to work with the FATF and adopted an "Action Plan" which committed Ankara to a timeline for implementing new legislation addressing the shortcomings. On June 1, Turkey submitted a report to the FATF plenary along with a draft law on the "Prevention of Terrorism Financing," which was intended to address all CTF deficiencies identified by the FATF with respect to its criminalization of terrorist financing and national asset freezing mechanisms. The draft law was in the Prime Ministry at year's end, where experts within and outside the Prime Minister's office were reviewing it.

Regional and International Cooperation: Turkey has played a critical role as a friendly, neutral, arbiter in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a regional facilitator, International Security Assistance Force contributor, and bilateral donor. On the development front, Turkey has provided assistance on health, education, and agriculture projects in Afghanistan. Turkey also conceived and continued to support an annual meeting of the Ministers of Interior of the Neighbors of Iraq, which focused on supporting regional stability and security, including counterterrorism and border security issues. Turkey ratified the 2005 Protocol on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.

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 National Police, is a broad-based outreach program to affected communities, similar to anti-gang activities in the United States. Police worked to reach vulnerable populations before terrorists do, alter the prevailing group dynamics and prevent recruitment. Police also undertook social projects, activities with parents, in-service training for officers and teachers, and utilized social science research. Programs prepared trainers, psychologists, coaches, and religious leaders to intervene to undermine radical messages and prevent recruitment.

The second program, administered by the Religious Affairs Office (Diyanet) of the Government of Turkey, promoted a Hanafi Sunni Islam and worked to undercut the message of radical or violent Islam. In Turkey, all Hanafi Sunni imams are employees of the state's Religious Affairs office (the Diyanet). In support of its message of traditional religious values, Diyanet's over 66,000 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 mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islamic instruction. Diyanet supported in-service training for religious leaders and lay-workers through a network of 19 centers throughout Turkey, and has sister-city relationships established with religious authorities abroad.

The Government of Turkey took steps to follow up on its 2009 Democratic Initiative, also known as the National Unity Project, designed to address the social and economic inequalities that are seen as fueling Kurdish dissent and PKK recruitment. Turkey devised concrete steps within the scope of the initiative to drain the PKK's support, by, for example, liberalizing laws governing the use of the Kurdish language in broadcasting, education, and state buildings; reducing the application of counterterrorism laws to non-violent crimes; and, providing legal incentives to bring members of the PKK who have not engaged in violence back into civil society

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