Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003 - Turkey

The Turkish Government, long a staunch counterterrorism ally, continued to provide strong support in the campaign against terrorism. Turkey was quick to provide military assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom. Former Prime Minister Ecevit backed a parliamentary resolution permitting the Government to send Turkish troops abroad and to allow foreign troops to be stationed on Turkish soil. Turkey offered to provide a 90-man special-operations unit in Afghanistan. In June, Turkey took the leadership of the United Nation's International Security Assistance Force and contributed 1,400 soldiers to the peacekeeping force.

Turkish authorities have arrested several suspected terrorists who may be linked to al-Qaida. In August, authorities arrested Mevlut Kar, a Turkish citizen suspected of being an Islamic terrorist, at the Ankara airport. In April, Turkish authorities arrested four individuals associated with al-Qaida in Bursa. Three members of the Union of Imams, a Jordanian group with links to al-Qaida, were arrested in February in Van. The individuals were suspected of planning a bombing attack in Israel. Subsequently, Turkish police arrested Ahmet Abdullah, a courier from northern Iraq, for providing assistance to the Union of Imams.

The Government of Turkey continued to take steps against domestic terrorist groups. Turkish authorities arrested several members from the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) – a virulently anti-US group that killed two US defense contractors and wounded a US Air Force officer during the Gulf war. Although the group did not conduct any attacks in 2002, Turkish officials have expressed displeasure that the group's leadership is ensconced in Western Europe. The European Union included the DHKP/ C on its terrorism list in May.

Turkish arrests also weakened Turkish Hizballah, a Kurdish Islamic (Sunni) extremist group that is unrelated to Lebanese Hizballah. In December, authorities arrested Ali Aslan Isik, reportedly one of the group's top leaders. The group's last attack in October 2001 killed two Turkish police officers in Istanbul.

In April, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and declared its commitment to political versus armed tactics to advance Kurdish rights in Turkey. In October, a Turkish court commuted Abdullah Ocalan's, the group's imprisoned leader, death sentence to a life term. KADEK maintains that it has continued to abide by its self-declared peace initiative throughout 2002, but it continues to arm an estimated 8,000 trained fighters in and around Turkey.

Turkey is a party to all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.


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