Turkish intelligence officials request US cooperation against PKK in Iraq

Officials from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) emphasized during US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s visit to Ankara last week that future anti-terror cooperation between the two countries must include concrete US efforts to disrupt operations of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

According to documents obtained by the Turkish daily Sabah, the American intelligence chief was told that the free movement of PKK leaders in Iraq has facilitated the group’s operations in Turkey, greatly complicating Ankara’s counterterrorism efforts. MİT consequently requested that three new steps be taken against PKK operations in northern Iraq.

Officials first requested that 97 individuals wanted by the Turkish state for alleged links to the PKK be detained if they attempt to fly from airports in Iraq. Turkey maintains that international airports in Baghdad and the northern city of Arbil are currently used by the PKK to travel freely to Europe, where it allegedly recruits members and traffics drugs.

Second, Clapper was told that Iraqi banks, which have become the group’s outlet for transferring money abroad, must be more active in monitoring suspicious financial activity.

It is estimated that the PKK annually channels over $100 million through Iraq to accounts abroad. Turkish intelligence officials stated that such transfers are often highly conspicuous operations, where PKK members deposit briefcases full of cash into accounts with no questions asked.

Turkish officials last told Clapper that intelligence cooperation between MİT and its American counterparts ought to increase, with a focus on real-time intelligence-sharing between the two nations. MİT’s requests to Clapper come as Turkey ramps up its campaign against the PKK’s activity abroad. Two days after Clapper’s visit to Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu delivered a similar message to the UN, where he argued that increased cooperation among European nations was necessary to combat foreign chapters of the PKK.

 

29 September 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL