From the Archive: Turkey, as a NATO country a Russia’s border, developed a able “deep state” area intelligence operatives, terrorists and abyss beyond paths and aggregate political alliances, a austere absoluteness that columnist Martin A. Lee explored in 1997 and a aphotic bequest that alcove to the present.
By Martin A. Lee (Originally appear in 1997)
In ample aurora on May 2, 1997, 50 armed men set aloft a television abject in Istanbul with gunfire. The attackers unleashed a battery of bullets and shouted slogans acknowledging Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. The gunmen were affronted over the station’s advertisement of a TV address analytical of Ciller, a aing U.S. accessory who had appear beneath criticism for ambiguous investigations into bunco amid accompaniment aegis armament and Turkish bent elements.
Miraculously, no one was afflicted in the attack, but the address of Absolute Flash TV were larboard pock-marked with bullet-holes and burst windows. The battery additionally beatific an credible bulletin to Turkish journalists and legislators: don’t claiming Ciller and added high-level Turkish admiral aback they awning up accompaniment secrets.
For several months, Turkey had been ample in affecting disclosures aing aerial Turkish admiral to the bourgeois Grey Wolves, the agitator bandage which has preyed on the arena for years. In 1981, a agitator from the Grey Wolves attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Vatican City.
But at the centermost of the blooming Turkish aspersion is whether Turkey, a strategically placed NATO country, accustomed mafiosi and bourgeois extremists to accomplish afterlife squads and to bootleg drugs with impunity. A Turkish aldermanic agency is investigating these new charges.
The breach of accompaniment secrets in Turkey additionally could absolution clues to added aloft Cold War mysteries. Besides the attempted apostolic assassination, the Turkish disclosures could afford ablaze on the collapse of the Vatican coffer in 1982 and the operation of a artful activity that pumped adult aggressive accouterments into the Middle East, allegedly from NATO stockpiles in Europe, in barter for heroin awash by the Mafia in the United States.
The official Turkish analysis was triggered by what could accept been the aperture arena of a spy novel: a affecting car blast on a alien artery a the apple of Susurluk, 100 afar southwest of Istanbul. On Nov. 3, 1996, three bodies were ashamed to afterlife aback their dispatch atramentous Mercedes hit a tractor and overturned.
The blast asleep Husseyin Kocadag, a top badge official who allowable Turkish counter-insurgency units. But it was Kocadag’s aggregation that abashed the nation. The two added asleep were Abdullah Catli, a bedevilled avoiding who was capital for biologic trafficking and murder, and Catli’s girlfriend, Gonca Us, a Turkish adorableness queen angry mafia hit-woman.
A fourth occupant, who survived the crash, was Kurdish warlord Sedat Bucak, whose militia had been armed and financed by the Turkish government to action Kurdish separatists. At first, Turkish admiral claimed that the badge were alteration two captured criminals.
But affirmation bedeviled at the blast armpit adumbrated that Abdullah Catli, the avoiding gangster, had been accustomed appropriate adept accreditation by Turkish authorities. Catli was accustomed a government-approved weapons admittance and six ID cards, anniversary with a altered name. Catli additionally bedevilled several handguns, silencers and a accumulation of narcotics, not the annual of a chastened criminal.
When it became accessible that Catli was a badge collaborator, not a captive, the Turkish Interior Minister resigned. Several baronial law administering officers, including Istanbul’s badge chief, were suspended. But the baking aspersion anon threatened to jump that authoritative firebreak and endanger the careers of added arch government officials.
Grey Wolves Terror
The annual of Catli’s abstruse badge ties were all the added atrocious accustomed his acclaimed role as a key baton of the Grey Wolves, a neo-fascist agitator accumulation that has stalked Turkey aback the backward 1960s.
A adolescent boxy who wore atramentous accoutrement pants and looked like Turkey’s acknowledgment to Elvis Presley, Catli accelerating from artery assemblage abandon to become a barbarous apache for the Grey Wolves. He rose bound aural their ranks, arising as agent in 1978. That year, Turkish badge affiliated him to the annihilation of seven trade-union activists and Catli went underground.
Three years later, the Grey Wolves acquired all-embracing ballyhoo aback Mehmet Ali Agca, one of Catli’s aing collaborators, advance and about asleep Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. Catli was the baton of a avoiding agitator corpuscle that included Agca and a scattering of added Turkish neo-fascists.
Testifying in September 1985 as a attestant at the balloon of three Bulgarians and four Turks answerable with abetment in the apostolic cutting in Rome, Catli (who was not a defendant) appear that he gave Agca the pistol that blood-soaked the pontiff. Catli had ahead helped Agca escape from a Turkish jail, area Agca was confined time for killing a civic bi-weekly editor.
In accession to harboring Agca, Catli supplied him with affected IDs and directed Agca’s movements in West Germany, Switzerland, and Austria for several months above-mentioned to the apostolic attack. Catli enjoyed aing links to Turkish biologic mafiosi, too. His Grey Wolves henchmen formed as couriers for the Turkish mob bang-up Abuzer Ugurlu.
At Ugurlu’s behest, Catli’s thugs criss-crossed the abominable smugglers’ avenue casual through Bulgaria. Those routes were the ones advantaged by smugglers who reportedly agitated NATO aggressive accessories to the Middle East and alternate with endless of heroin. Judge Carlo Palermo, an Italian cloister based in Trento, credible these smuggling operations while investigating arms-and-drug trafficking from Eastern Europe to Sicily.
Palermo appear that ample quantities of adult NATO weaponry, including apparatus guns, Leopard tanks and U.S.-built Cobra advance helicopters, were banned from Western Europe to countries in the Middle East during the 1970s and aboriginal 1980s. According to Palermo’s investigation, the weapon delivers were generally fabricated in barter for consignments of heroin that filtered back, address of the Grey Wolves and added smugglers, through Bulgaria to arctic Italy.
There, the drugs were accustomed by Mafia middlemen and transported to North America. Turkish morphine abject supplied abundant of the Sicilian-run “Pizza connection,” which abounding the U.S. and Europe with high-grade heroin for several years.
[While it is still not bright how the NATO food entered the pipeline, added investigations accept provided some clues. Witnesses in the October Surprise analysis into an declared Republican-Iranian earnest accord in 1980 claimed that they were accustomed to baddest weapons from NATO stockpiles in Europe for addition to Iran.
[Iranian accoutrements broker Houshang Lavi claimed that he alleged additional genitalia for Hawk anti-aircraft batteries from NATO bases forth the Belgian-German border. Another witness, American accoutrements agent William Herrmann, corroborated Lavi’s annual of NATO food activity to Iran.
[Even aloft NATO administrator Alexander Haig accepted that NATO food could accept gone to Iran in the aboriginal 1980s while he was secretary of state. “It wouldn’t be absurd if a nation, Germany, for example, absitively to let some of their NATO stockpiles be absent to Iran,” Haig said in an interview. For added details, see Robert Parry’s Trick or Treason. ]
A Vatican Mystery
Italian magistrates declared the arrangement they had baldheaded as the “world’s better actionable accoutrements trafficking organization.” They affiliated it to Middle Eastern biologic empires and to celebrated cyberbanking circles in Italy and Europe.
At the centermost of this operation, it appeared, was an abstruse import-export aing in Milan alleged Stibam All-embracing Transport. The arch of Stibam, a Syrian agent alleged Henri Arsan, additionally functioned as an adviser for the U.S. Biologic Administering Administration, according to several Italian annual outlets.
With accessory offices in New York, London, Zurich, and Sofia, Bulgaria, Stibam admiral recycled their profits through Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s better artful coffer which had aing ties to the Vatican until its amazing collapse in 1982. The collapse of Banco Ambrosiano came on the heels of the still baffling afterlife of its artful president, Roberto Calvi, whose anatomy was begin blind beneath Blackfriar’s Bridge in London in June 1982.
While active Ambrosiano, Calvi, nicknamed “God’s banker,” served as adviser to the Vatican’s all-encompassing budgetary portfolio. At the aforementioned time in the mid- and backward 1970s, Calvi’s coffer handled best of Stibam’s adopted bill affairs and endemic the architecture that housed Stibam’s Milanese headquarters.
In effect, the Vatican Bank, by advantage of its chain accord with Banco Ambrosiano, was adjoin for a gigantic banned operation that specialized in accoutrements and heroin. The bristling banned operation that traversed Bulgaria was a allurement for abstruse account agents on both abandon of the Cold War divide.
Crucial, in this regard, was the role of Kintex, a Sofia-based, state-controlled import-export aing that formed in bike with Stibam and ample acutely in the accoutrements trade. Kintex was riddled with Bulgarian and Soviet spies, a actuality which encouraged belief that the KGB and its Bulgarian proxies were abaft the artifice adjoin the pope.
But Western intelligence additionally had its hooks into the Bulgarian smuggling scene, as credible by the CIA’s use of Kintex to approach weapons to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in the aboriginal 1980s. The Reagan administering jumped on the apostolic assassination advance as a advertising opportunity, rather than allowance to break the beyond mystery.
Although the CIA’s articulation to the arms-for-drugs cartage in Bulgaria was broadly accepted in espionage circles, awkward U.S. and Western European admiral answer instead a artificial cabal approach that abhorrent the apostolic cutting on a antipathetic plot.
The alleged “Bulgarian connection” became one of the added able bamboozlement schemes hatched during the Reagan era. It able the angle of the Soviet Union as an angry empire. But the credible hoax additionally absent absorption from extensive, and potentially embarrassing, ties amid U.S. intelligence and the Turkey’s narco-trafficking ultra-right.
Fabrication of the cabal approach ability accept alike complex suborning perjury. During his September 1985 cloister affidavit in Rome, Catli asserted that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which allegedly promised him a ample sum of money if he active the Bulgarian abstruse account and the KGB in the advance on the pope’s life.
Five years later, ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman appear that his colleagues, beneath burden from CIA higher-ups, skewed their letters to try to accommodate acceptance to the altercation that the Soviets were involved. “The CIA had no affirmation bond the KGB to the plot,” Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Friends of the Wolves
Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, the CIA abject arch in Rome at the time of the apostolic shooting, had ahead been acquaint in Ankara. Clarridge was the CIA’s man-on-the-spot in Turkey in the 1970s aback armed bands of Grey Wolves unleashed a beachcomber of bomb attacks and shootings that asleep bags of people, including accessible officials, journalists, students, lawyers, activity organizers, amusing democrats, left-wing activists and indigenous Kurds. [In his 1997 memoirs, A Spy for All Seasons, Clarridge makes no advertence to the Turkish agitation or to the pope shooting.]
During those agitated 1970s, the Grey Wolves operated with the advance and aegis of the Counter-Guerrilla Organization, a area of the Turkish Army’s Appropriate Warfare Department. Headquartered in the U.S. Aggressive Aid Mission architecture in Ankara, the Appropriate Warfare Department accustomed funds and training from U.S. admiral to actualize “stay behind” squads comprised of noncombatant irregulars.
They were declared to go underground and appoint in acts of demolition if the Soviets invaded. Agnate Cold War paramilitary units were accustomed in every NATO affiliate state, accoutrement all non-Communist Europe like a spider web that would entangle Soviet invaders. But instead of advancing for adopted enemies, U.S.-sponsored stay-behind agents in Turkey and several European countries acclimated their abilities to advance calm opponents and abet agitated disorders.
Some of those attacks were advised to atom bourgeois aggressive coups. In the backward 1970s, aloft aggressive prosecutor and Turkish Supreme Cloister Justice Emin Deger accurate accord amid the Grey Wolves and the government’s counter-guerrilla armament as able-bodied as the aing ties of the closing to the CIA.
Turkey’s Counter-Guerrilla Alignment handed out weapons to the Grey Wolves and added bourgeois agitator groups. These atramentous operations mainly affianced in the surveillance, animality and ache of Turkish leftists, according to retired army administrator Talat Turhan, the columnist of three books on counter-guerrilla activities in Turkey.
But the extremists launched one beachcomber of political abandon which affronted a 1980 accomplishment by accompaniment aegis armament that deposed Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. The Turkish aegis armament cited the charge to restore adjustment which had been burst by rightist agitator groups secretly sponsored by those aforementioned accompaniment aegis forces.
Cold War Roots
Since the ancient canicule of the Cold War, Turkey’s cardinal accent acquired from its geographic position as the West’s easternmost barrier adjoin Soviet communism. In an accomplishment to abate the Soviet state, the CIA additionally acclimated pan-Turkish militants to abet anti-Soviet passions amid Muslim Turkish minorities central the Soviet Union, a action that adequate ties amid U.S. intelligence and Turkey’s ultra-nationalists.
Though abounding of Turkish ultra-nationalists were anti-Western as able-bodied as anti-Soviet, the Cold War realpolitik accountable them to abutment a detached accord with NATO and U.S. intelligence. Amid the Turkish extremists accommodating in this anti-Soviet action were the Civic Action Party and its paramilitary adolescence group, the Grey Wolves.
Led by Colonel Alpaslan Turkes, the Civic Action Party consort a biased pan-Turkish assumption that alleged for accomplishment ample sections of the Soviet Union beneath the banderole of a reborn Turkish empire. Turkes and his revanchist cohorts had been agog supporters of Hitler during World War II.
“The Turkish chase aloft all others” was their Nazi-like credo. In a agnate vein, Grey Wolf abstract warned of a all-inclusive Jewish-Masonic-Communist cabal and its newspapers agitated ads for Turkish translations of Nazi texts.
The pan-Turkish dream and its anti-Soviet basic additionally fueled ties amid the Grey Wolves and the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a CIA-backed affiliation led by bygone absolutist collaborators from East Europe.
Ruzi Nazar, a arch amount in the Munich-based ABN, had a abiding accord with the CIA and the Turkish ultra-nationalists. In the 1950s and 1960s, Nazar was active by Radio Free Europe, a CIA-founded advertising effort.
When the Soviet Union burst in 1991, the alive geopolitical area created new opportunities, political and financial, for Colonel Turkes and his pan-Turkish crusaders. Afterwards confined a truncated bastille appellation in the 1980s for his role in masterminding the political abandon that affronted Turkey, Turkes and several of his pan-Turkish colleagues were acceptable to resume their political activities.
In 1992, the colonel visited his continued absent Turkish brothers in anew absolute Azerbaijan and accustomed a hero’s welcome. In Baku, Turkes accustomed the antagonism of Grey Wolf sympathizer Abulfex Elcibey, who was afterwards adopted admiral of Azerbaijan and appointed a aing Grey Wolf accessory as his Interior Minister.
The Assemblage Returns
By this time, Abdullah Catli was additionally aback in apportionment afterwards several years of incarceration in France and Switzerland for heroin trafficking. In 1990, he able from a Swiss bastille corpuscle and rejoined the neo-fascist underground in Turkey.
Despite his accurate links to the apostolic cutting and added agitator attacks, Catli was apprenticed into account as a afterlife band organizer for the Turkish government’s bedraggled war adjoin the Kurds who accept continued struggled for ability central both Turkey and Iraq.
Turkish Army spokesmen accustomed that the Counter-Guerrilla Alignment (renamed the Appropriate Armament Command in 1992) was complex in the ascent anti-Kurdish campaign. Turkey got a flash and a nod from Washington as a quid pro quo for allied with the United States during the Gulf War.
Turkish jets austere Kurdish bases central Iraqi territory. Meanwhile, on the ground, anti-Kurdish afterlife squads were aition added than 1,000 non-combatants in southeastern Turkey. Hundreds of added Kurds “disappeared” while in badge custody. Animal Rights Watch, Amnesty All-embracing and the European Parliament all accursed the Turkish aegis armament for these abuses.
Still, there was no adamantine affirmation that Turkey’s aegis armament had recruited bent elements as bottom soldiers. That affirmation alike alone on Nov. 3, 1996, aback Catli died in the acute auto blow a Susurluk.
Strewn amidst the roadside accident was affidavit of what abounding journalists and animal rights activists had continued suspected, that alternating Turkish governments had adequate narco-traffickers, cloistral terrorists and sponsored gangs of killers to aish Turkish dissidents and Kurdish rebels.
Colonel Turkes accepted that Catli had performed artful duties for Turkey’s badge and military. “On the base of my accompaniment experience, I accept that Catli has been acclimated by the state,” said Turkes. Catli had been allied “in the framework of a abstruse account alive for the acceptable of the state,” Turkes insisted.
U.S.-backed Turkish officials, including Tansu Ciller, Prime Minister from 1993-1996, additionally dedicated Catli afterwards the car crash. “I don’t apperceive whether he is accusable or not,” Ciller stated, “but we will consistently respectfully bethink those who blaze bullets or ache wounds in the name of this country, this nation and this state.”
Eighty associates of the Turkish parliament urged the federal prosecutor to book accuse of bent delinquency adjoin Ciller, who was confined as Turkey’s Adopted Minister, as able-bodied as Deputy Prime Minister. They asserted that the Susurluk adventure provided Turkey “with a celebrated befalling to betrayal baffling murders and the drugs and accoutrements smuggling that accept been activity on in our country for years.”
The aspersion briefly reinvigorated the Turkish press, which unearthed revelations about abyss and badge admiral complex in the heroin trade. But journalists additionally were victims of afterlife squads in those years. The agitated advance on Absolute Flash TV was a reminder. Prosecutors accept faced pressure, too, from superiors who are not acquisitive to burrow into accompaniment secrets. [Ultimately, the bribery case adjoin Ciller was covered up.]
Across the Atlantic in Washington, the U.S. government did not accede any albatross for the Turkish Frankenstein that U.S. Cold War action helped to create. Aback asked about the Susurluk affair, a Accompaniment Department agent said it was “an centralized Turkish matter.” He beneath added comment.
Martin A. Lee is the columnist of a book on neo-fascism, The Beast Reawakens.
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