Turkey inaugurates new headquarters of intelligence agency

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated on Monday in the capital Ankara the new high-tech headquarters of the country’s intelligence agency which has seen its assets and powers grow amid international operations.

Dubbed the Castle by state officials, the new 500-hectare massive compound located in the Etimesgut district will house all services of the secretive National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

The single complex is surrounded by a three-meter-high concrete wall and barbed wire fences, and designed to withstand unauthorized access and infiltration, semi-official Anadolu news agency said.

During the inauguration of the complex, Erdogan said his government intends to “continue to grow (MIT’s) international role while decreasing its domestic operations.”

“In an era when the Internet is effectively used by terrorists and spies, it is inevitable for Turkish intelligence to focus more on cyberspace,” he noted in a speech.

The Turkish leader said his country aims to conduct more covert operations abroad in the period ahead and have a better technical and cyber intelligence infrastructure.

Following a failed military coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan used his emergency powers and issued a decree attaching MIT to the presidency, and the National Intelligence Coordination Board was formed.

As MIT’s institutional power grew with the new presidential board, its budget surged from 410 million U.S. dollars in 2010 to almost 2 billion dollars in 2017. The organization’s asset value is higher than most of country’s ministries, according to press reports.

The intelligence service came under fire in the aftermath of the coup and its credibility was tarnished.

The powerful spy network was reshaped with more civilian personnel than army officers to coordinate with different state entities in post-coup period and young bureaucrats were appointed to key positions.

Since the failed coup that Ankara accuses U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind, MIT agents snatched from around 20 foreign countries scores of members of the Gulen movement which is listed as a criminal and terrorist organization by the Turkish judiciary.

Hakan Fidan, MIT chief, is a close ally and confidante of Erdogan and has taken part in all major overseas visits alongside him.

MIT took an active role in the Syrian conflict unfolding at Turkey’s southern borders by organizing rebel forces against the Syrian government. It also prepared for the three Turkish cross-border operations in Syria.

Turkish agents are also reportedly active in Iraq, another neighbor of Turkey where armed rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have base camps.

PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Turkish forces conduct regular operations against the senior members of the PKK in Iraq with the help of MIT operatives and armed drones.

Meanwhile, Erdogan confirmed that MIT agents were already deployed in Tripoli, capital of Libya.

On Sunday, Erdogan announced that the deployment of troops to Libya has begun in order to support the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli which is under the siege of rival forces based in the eastern part of the North African nation.

“Our soldiers are gradually going there right now. They will develop the operations center there,” he told CNNTurk news channel. Enditem

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