U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Turkey

Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners, including, on occasion, U.S. Government personnel, for more than 40 years. International and domestic terrorist groups that operated in Turkey included Kurdish separatist, Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, and pro-Chechen groups.

Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), subject to regular name changes, currently operating as Kongra-Gel (KGK/PKK). Composed primarily of Kurds with a historically separatist agenda, the KGK/PKK operated from headquarters in part of northern Iraq and directed forces to target mainly Turkish security forces, government offices, and villagers who opposed the KGK/PKK. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a group affiliated with the KGK, assumed responsibility for attacks on resort areas in southern and western Turkey, an attack on the office of a political party, and the bombing of a minibus carrying schoolchildren.

KGK/PKK attacks against Turkey increased significantly and claimed as many as 600 lives in 2006. In October, the KGK/PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire that slowed the intensity and pace of its attacks but attacks continued in response to Turkish security forces significant counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, especially in the southeast.

Other prominent terrorist groups included the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a militant Marxist-Leninist party with anti-U.S. and anti-NATO views that seeks the violent overthrow of the Turkish state; and Turkish Hizballah (not affiliated with Lebanese Hizballah), an organization of Sunni Kurds with a violent history, which appeared to be providing social services and promoting Sharia in parts of the southeast.

At year's end, a criminal trial was underway for the 72 defendants allegedly involved in the four November 2003 Istanbul bombings. The trial concluded on February 16, 2007, with 48 of the 72 receiving jail sentences. Seven of those were sentenced to life in prison; 26 were acquitted. The lead defendants admitted to contacts with AQ and warned of further attacks. Most of the other defendants denied responsibility for, or knowledge of, the bombings. Four of the suspects, including the brother of one of the four suicide bombers, were released pending trial in May after spending more than two and half years in prison.

As of late November, Turkish prosecutors were seeking life imprisonment for Luay Sakka, a Syrian national linked to AQ and the Zarqawi network. Sakka was connected to the funding of the November 2003 Istanbul bombings and the deaths of U.S. and Coalition Forces in Iraq, and was allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on Israeli cruise ships in Turkish ports when he was apprehended in August 2005.

In addition to sharing intelligence information on various groups operating in Turkey, the Turkish National Police (TNP) and the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) conducted an aggressive counterterrorist campaign and detained numerous suspected terrorists in scores of raids, disrupting these groups before terrorist acts could be carried out. For example, in December, TNP counterterrorism units simultaneously raided ten addresses in Istanbul that were suspected of housing leftist militants. Twenty suspects were arrested. Turkish law defined terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish state, and government left the definition unchanged when Parliament enacted a package of amendments to its antiterrorism law.

Turkey has consistently supported Coalition efforts in Afghanistan. After commanding ISAF II in 2002 and ISAF VII in 2005, in August, Turkey began a two-year joint rotational command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for the Capital Regional Command along with France and Italy. Turkey also opened its first Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in November in Wardak Province and pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the reconstruction and operation of schools and hospitals.

Turkey has provided significant logistical support to Coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, authorizing the use of Incirlik Air Base as an air-refueling hub for OEF and OIF and as a cargo hub to transport non-lethal cargo to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost 60 percent of air cargo for U.S. troops in Iraq transits Incirlik. Establishment of this hub allows six C-17 aircraft to transport the amount of goods it took nine to ten aircraft to move from Germany, and saves the United States almost $160 million per year.

One-third of the fuel (has been as high as two-thirds) destined for the Iraqi people and more than 25 percent of fuel for Coalition Forces transits from Turkey into Iraq via the Habur Gate border crossing. Turkey was active in reconstruction efforts, including providing electricity to Iraq. Turkish citizens continued to be killed, providing logistical support to Coalition Forces or performing reconstruction in Iraq. Turkey contributed headquarters personnel to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I), helped train Iraqi diplomats and political parties, and completed military leadership training in Turkey for 90 Iraqi officers as a further contribution to the NATO NTM-I.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conducted a peer review of Turkey's regime against the financing of terrorism and money laundering in September and planned to publicize the report in early 2007. Pursuant to its obligations under UNSCR 1267 and subsequent resolutions, Turkish officials continued to pass UN and U.S.-designated names of terrorists to all law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as to financial institutions. Only UN-designated names, however, were subjected to asset freezes enforced through a Council of Ministers decree. This legal mechanism for enforcing the sanctions under UNSCR 1267 was challenged in Turkish courts by UN-designated terrorist financier Yasin al-Qadi. A lower-court ruled in July that the Council of Ministers lacked the authority to freeze assets, but in February 2007, an appeals court overturned the lower court ruling and confirmed the Council of Ministers' authority to freeze. In the meantime, al-Qadi's assets remain frozen. Separately, in October, Parliament enacted legislation to reorganize MASAK, Turkey's anti-money laundering agency, which doubled as Turkey's Financial Intelligence Unit. This law explicitly criminalized terrorism finance and provided legal protections for filers of suspicious transaction reports


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