Connect with us

Intelligence

Anxiety in Ankara: Assassination, Geopolitics, and Democracy in Turkey

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

Published

on

On December 19, 2016, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was assassinated by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, an off-duty police officer, in Ankara during an art exhibit. The assassination took place at a critical junction, as Turkey and Russia have just started to repair their broken relationship due to the earlier downing of a Russian jet fighter. Furthermore, it also coincided with historic meetings between Turkey, Russia, and Iran to create a Syrian peace treaty, where Turkey gave up almost all political and military positions regarding the Syrian crisis.

The assassination itself still has many unanswered questions: was the assassin acting alone or on someone’s behalf or with the assistance of others; why did Turkish intelligence and law enforcement forces not provide sufficient security for the ambassador; what was the motive behind the attack and why was the assassin killed rather than captured? Additionally, a Turkish judge issued a media ban on the attack, making it more difficult to understand and reveal facts about the assassination. In order to inform the international community and reduce the chances of such an attack happening against other diplomatic dignitaries in Turkey, the Turkish government needs to be transparent about the findings of the investigation, demonstrating it has solid, objective evidence provided in a timely manner.

I graduated from an American university with Ph.D. in criminal justice in the summer of 2005 and returned back to Turkey to work for the Ankara Police Department’s counterterrorism and operations division. This assassination has reminded me of another high-profile killing which happened in Ankara in 2006. On May 17 of that year Alparslan Arslan, a lawyer, used his official ID to enter the council of state court building in Ankara, circumventing security checks. Once inside, he attacked a session of the council of Turkish State members, killing one and wounding four. Luckily, a police officer who was working on the Court’s security detail managed to catch Arslan alive and handed him over to the counterterrorism division. As we started to investigate the assassination two disturbing details arose. First, the security camera recordings at the high court building were erased immediately after the attack . Second, as I started to interrogate Arslan, I was surprised in several ways: Arslan was not acting like a suspect who just killed somebody. He had very high self-esteem, was very relaxed, and tried to portray what he had done as quite normal. As I spoke to him he told me, “not to worry myself too much and let me be as I will get out of prison very soon.” I asked him how and he said “there will be a coup and I will come out as a hero.” When I confronted him, asking how he was so sure of such a thing, he said “this is what I know and will not comment more.” This conversation was recorded during the interrogations in the Ankara counterterrorism and operations interview room and the video is still available in police archives.

When I look at the assassination of the Russian ambassador, I see a lot of similarities. First of all, the attack was carried out by a police officer who allegedly entered the art gallery by using his official police ID. Additionally, as I watch the videos available from different angles during and after the shooting, it was very obvious that the assassin prepared for his attack professionally. He was very relaxed and almost too calm before he killed the ambassador. He patiently waited while acting like a security guard. It appears he planned every detail of his attack, including his speech with Arabic quotes. Moreover, just like Arslan, he was also sure what was going to happen to him. Only this time, according to his own words, he wanted to die instead of fleeing the crime scene alive. In contrast to the common practice during hostage takings, the killer let everybody in the art gallery leave while he remained in the room with his gun. The assassin wore a slim black suit and, based on the video recordings, had only a hand gun. His clothing was not bulky, indicating he did not carry additional weapons. In fact, he might have had at most a spare magazine, giving him the chance to have twenty more bullets after shooting the ambassador eleven times. These details raise several questions.

First, a regular riot police officer does not have access to the schedule of the Russian ambassador. Further, according to reports, Ambassador Karlov decided to attend the program just two hours prior to the event. Additionally, the assassin had obviously surveyed the crime scene and surroundings in advance as he prepared for the attack. Therefore, one of the most important questions to ask is how the assassin received details of the ambassador’s schedule as well as have time to conduct surveillance. Second, it is a very well-known police procedure in Turkey that a high value target – like the assassin of an Ambassador – should be apprehended alive if possible. After all, these kinds of attacks could spark greater events or be tied to future plans. Instead of capturing the assassin alive, the Ankara police opted to kill him at the scene, eliminating the most important piece of evidence – the assassin himself. A suspect with only a handgun and limited ammunition should have easily been captured alive. I wonder many things: were there negotiations with the suspect; why the police did not use any tear gas to incapacitate the suspect; why didn’t they incapacitate him by wounding him; and why were the police so impatient, as the priority in such cases is to always capture the suspect alive? There seems to be no logical explanation for killing the assassin. This alone raises the most critical suspicion about the attack and its aftermath.

The attacker was very sure of himself and his speech as he addressed people at the exhibit, perhaps memorizing Arabic references from al-Qaeda nasheeds. Also, his speech had specific references to jihadi literature, such as “emin beldeler” – safe places – and the police found three books related to al-Nusra in his hotel room. It is highly likely that this officer’s radical views were known among his peers at the riot police. If this is the case, the question is obvious: how was he allowed to continue to serve as a police officer with open Salafist jihadist ideas? Riot police officers work very closely, in groups of ten to twenty, often waiting for long hours without doing anything. This would give other officers and team leaders ample time to assess the assassin’s thinking and report it. This never happened. Some might argue the assassin could have deliberately hidden his views from those around him, but such a task is structurally very difficult by the riot police work environment.

The attacker graduated from the Izmir Rustu Unsal Police School in 2014. After the December 2013 corruption operations against Erdogan’s son and his close circle, the AKP did not allow graduates of the police schools to become officers unless they were proven loyal to the AKP. Thus, Altintas could only have become an officer after receiving open support from AKP members, as hundreds of other police school graduates did not become officers in 2014. In addition, he was transferred from Diyarbakir to Ankara after working only one year as an officer in Diyarbakir. This, by regulation, is actually impossible in Turkey. I served in the Turkish National Police (TNP) for twenty years and the TNP administration closely follows this rule without bending it. Normally, only ministerial or prime ministerial level interference would result in the transfer of an officer from Diyarbakir to Ankara after just one year. Typically, at least three years of service is mandatory before a move. This raises significant questions and needs to be explained.

In another break with standard norms, Interior minister Suleyman Soylu was reported to have directed the police operation against the assassin. It is very uncommon for a cabinet minister to direct a counterterrorism operation. In fact, even a city chief of police does not get directly involved in such operations, as they also require special training and experience. Under normal circumstances, the chief and deputy chiefs of the counter-terrorism and operations division and the chief of Special Operations (SWAT) would come together at the crime scene to plan and execute maneuvers. In Turkey, the chief of counter-terrorism operations is the police operative who is by law assigned as the legally responsible person for such command. Therefore, the Interior minister should not have had any say in such operations at all, let alone led them with impunity. In addition to Soylu being at the crime scene immediately after the attack, there were allegations about the assassin’s roommate (a lawyer whose law office was searched and locked after the attack) having relationships with several high level AKP members, including Soylu himself. Allegedly, it was after an interview with the assassin’s sister to Hurriyet daily that several pictures appeared on social media showing Soylu with the assassin’s roommate and compelled the subsequent court ban on reporting the case. This instantly put an end on any news or social media posts related to the assassination and investigation.

Further complicating the situation, Minister Soylu was transferred to the AKP in 2012 , later becoming its deputy director. Before that he was the General Director of the True Path Party (DYP). Soylu became the general director of the DYP after Mehmet Agar. Agar is widely known as a representative of the so called “deep state” in Turkey, a vigilante organization formed by high-level officers carrying out murders, especially after the infamous “Susurluk case” for which he was sentenced to five-years imprisonment . This connection is also an essential tie which is being overlooked entirely. The assassination happened at a time of great political and economic distress in Turkey. President Erdogan and his administration changed their Syrian policies and partnered with Russia and Iran, abandoning their ambitions in Aleppo. Erdogan personally asked al-Nusra members to leave Aleppo. In fact, several jihadist organizations, including al-Nusra and Ahrar-usham and their affiliates, likely felt back-stabbed as Turkey signed the treaty with Russia and Iran, guaranteeing the integrity and sovereignty of the Syrian Government and by extension Bashar Assad. This assassination, like the downing of the Russian jet, crippled Turkey’s independent stand against Russia, almost compelling them to approve all of Putin’s demands.

Turkey needs to answer the unanswered questions behind the assassination. The details of the investigation and the more sinister ambiguities of the attack, including the potential ties of the assassin and his close circle to formal government, must be revealed to the public. Assassination on an ambassador in the heart of Turkey’s capitol by a police officer with a state-issued gun is a crime that cannot be ignored. Until the unresolved questions are clarified foreign delegations may not feel safe in Ankara, creating another huge setback in Turkish democracy, the rule of law, and the country’s global standing.

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of criminology, law, and society at George Mason University. He is also senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He formerly served as a professor and the chair of the sociology department at Harran University in Turkey. He also served as the chief of counterterrorism and operations department of the Turkish National Police in Sanliurfa between 2010 and 2013. He is the co-author of the newly released book ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Follow @ahmetsyayla

Continue Reading
Comments

Intelligence

Russian Hackers: The shadowy world of US and Gulf hacks just got murkier

Dr. James M. Dorsey

Published

on

The covert Qatar-United Arab Emirates cyberwar that helped spark the 13-month-old Gulf crisis that pits a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance against Qatar may have just gotten murkier with the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mr. Mueller’s indictment provided detail on website DCLeaks that was allegedly registered by Russian intelligence officers. The website initially distributed illicitly obtained documents associated with people connected to the Republican Party and later hacked emails from individuals affiliated with the election campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Starting in or around June 2016 and continuing through the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Conspirators used DCLeaks to release emails stolen from individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign,” the indictment reads.

The indictment focusses exclusively on hacking related to the US election that in 2017 brought Donald J. Trump to office. It makes no mention of hacking related to the 13-month-old Gulf crisis that pits a UAE-Saudi-led alliance against Qatar.

Yet, the indictment’s repeated references to DCLeaks raises the question whether there may also be a Russian link to the hacking last year of Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Otaiba’s revealing and potentially damaging emails that seemed to help Qatar in its public diplomacy campaign were distributed to major media and analysts, including this writer, by an entity that identified itself as Global Leaks.

Questions about a potential link between Global Leaks, DCLeaks and Russia stem not only from Global Leak’s use of a Russian provider that offers free email service but also by the group’s own reference to DCLeaks. The group’s initial email had ‘DCLeaks’ in its subject line.

It remains unclear whether the use of a Russian provider was coincidental and whether the reference to DC leaks was meant to mislead or create a false impression.

Global Leaks initially identified itself in en email as “a new group which is bringing to limelight human right violations, terror funding, illegal lobbying in US/UK to limelight of people to help make USA and UK great again and bring justice to rich sponsors of crime and terror.”

When pressed about its identity, the group said that “we believe that (the) Gulf in general has been crippling the American policy by involving us in their regional objectives. Lately it’s been (the) UAE who has bought America and traditionally it was their bigger neighbour (Saudi Arabia). If we had to hurt UAE, we have so much of documents given by source that it will not only hurt their image and economy but also legally and will for sure result in UN sanctions at the least. But that is not our goal.

Our goal is plain and simple, back off in playing with American interests and law, don’t manipulate our system, don’t use money as a tool to hurt our foreign policy…. It may be a coincidence that most things (we are leaking) do relate to UAE but in times to come if they continue and not stop these acts, we will release all the documents which may hurt all the countries including Bahrain and Qatar,” the group said.

Global Leaks’ allegation that the UAE was seeking to suck the United States’ into Gulf affairs predated reports that Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, was beside Russia also looking into whether George Nader, a highly paid Lebanese-American advisor to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, had funnelled funds to the Trump campaign.

Mr. Mueller is further investigating a meeting in the Seychelles between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, that was brokered by the UAE. Messrs. Prince and Dmitriev have denied that the meeting had anything to do with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has not publicly addressed reports that his election campaign may have received Gulf funding but at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Mr. Trump declined to endorse his government’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why Russia would be responsible.”

A British public relations watchdog, Spinwatch Public Interest Investigations, said, in a report published this week detailing UAE lobby efforts, that the Emirates since the 2011 popular Arab revolts had tasked public relations companies in the United States and Britain with linking members of Qatar’s ruling family to terrorism.

The lobbying effort also aimed to get the Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood banned, involved UAE threats to withhold lucrative trade deals from Britain if allegedly pro-Brotherhood reporting by the BBC was not curtailed, and targeted journalists and academics critical of the Gulf country, according to the report.

US intelligence officials said the UAE had last year orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. The hacking provided the pre-text for the UAE-Saudi led economic and diplomatic boycott of the Gulf state. The UAE has denied the assertion.

US and Qatari officials said earlier that Russian hackers for hire had executed the attack on the Qatari websites. Cybersecurity experts said at the time that the hackers worked for various Gulf states. They said the methods used in the hacking of the Qatari website and Mr. Otaiba’s email were similar.

“They seem to be hackers-for-hire, freelancing for all sorts of different clients, and adapting their skills as needed,” said security expert Collin Anderson.

Two cybersecurity firms, ThreatConnect and Fidelis Cybersecurity said in 2016 that they had indications that the hackers who hit the Democratic National Committee were preparing a fake version of the U.A.E. Minis Britaintry of Foreign Affairs website that could be used in phishing attacks.

The UAE-Qatari cyberwar was indeed likely enabled by Russian hackers working for their own account rather than in coordination with the Russian government. It is however equally possible that the same hackers also put their services at the disposal of Russia.

None of what is known about the murky world of Russian hackers is conclusive, let alone produces a smoking gun. The various strands of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, however, suggest grounds to query not only Russian cyber efforts to influence the US election but also the involvement of Russian nationals in the cyber war in the Gulf and potential links between the two operations.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

India’s Nuclear Imperilment

Published

on

Recently, a uranium smuggling racket was busted by the Kolkata police with one kilogramme of radioactive material. According to the reports, smugglers were trying to sell uranium, which has a market value of INR 30 million ($440,000).

The theft of highly sensitive material especially uranium is frequently happening in India.In November 1994, Meghalaya Police seized 2.5 kg of uranium from a gang of four smugglers in the Domiasiat region. Police in the Indian state of West Bengal in June 1998, arrested an opposition politician who they say was carrying more than 100 kilograms of uranium. In July 1998, the CBI unearthed a major racket in theft of uranium in Tamil Nadu, with the seizure of over eight kg of the nuclear material. In August 2001, Police in the Indian state of West Bengal arrested two men with more than 200 grams of semi-processed uranium. In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material was stolen from a fortified research facility in eastern India.

Similarly, in February 2008 the police seized 4 kg of uranium in Supaul district along the Indo-Nepal border.Police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya said in September 2008 that they have arrested five people on charges of smuggling uranium ore.In December 2009, the Navi Mumbai Crime Branch arrested three people for illegal possession of 5 kg of depleted uranium.Around 9 kg of radioactive uranium, a banned material, was seized from two persons in Thane, in December 2016.

India is operating a plutonium production reactor, Dhruva, and a uranium enrichment facility that are not subject to IAEA safeguards. India’s buildup of South Asia’s largest military complex of nuclear centrifuges and atomic-research laboratories is somehow threatening efforts related to nuclear security and safety. These facilities will ultimately give India the ability to make more large-yield nuclear arms & hydrogen bombs. The international task force on the prevention of nuclear terrorism is of the view that the possibility of nuclear terrorism is increasing keeping in mind the rapid nuclear development by India. Whereas, U.S. officials and experts are of the view that India’s nuclear explosive materials are vulnerable to theft.

Contemporary Indian internal situation is worsening day by day because of the intolerance and extremism. Likewise, India has more than 65 active terrorist groups operating in different states including the location of nuclear installations. These terrorists may possibly gain access to nuclear materials and use them against civilian and military installations. In January 2016, we have seen a controversial Pathankot Airbase attack, which also shows that Indian intelligence had badly failed to provide true information about terrorist networks.

Nuclear facilities must be guarded closely and the people who are working in these facilities must maintain secrecy. However, in India, nuclear facilities are guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and CISF guard admitted that security at the installations needs more enhancements. Mysterious deaths of Indian nuclear scientists is a matter of concern as some were reported suicide and some were murdered. The possibility of nuclear secrecy gets out in the hands of terrorists cannot be ignored.

The Naxalites – India’s Maoists from the Communist Party often target the police and military bases. Though most terrifying revelation was by the EU report that seven Indian companies were involved in funding to ISIS for making bombs. Previously Indian companies were involved in illicit nuclear trade with Iran, Iraq and Libya. So the situation will be a lot worst if the Indian companies provide any chemical, biological or the nuclear material to ISIS

Several of these incidents clearly indicate the failure of the Indian nuclear security agencies. Thus the focus of mainstream media and Western governments should be the Indian nuclear program’s flawed security, expansion and rapidly increasing nuclear weapons technology.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Know the psychology of ISIL

Sajad Abedi

Published

on

In my opinion, the “ISIS phenomenon” is not new; it distinguishes the factors of this group; for example, the audience of the world’s television networks is watching films that ISIS itself publishes. They have internet sites that send their films and photos to the world. On the other hand, the region is full of journalists because both the Syria war is underway and the Middle East regional issues are so important, so journalists can cover the moment.

In addition, the strategic importance of the Iraqi state and its oil resources was due to the fact that ISIS had its first attacks on oil and refineries, but it was effective in triggering their actions, but the thing that shook the world more than anything else, A pattern of behavior that the group represented during the capture of places; films from ISILs that were showing them on the road and checking cars, while carrying laptops with names of those who worked with the government, or any kind of their thoughts It was different from the ideology of ISIL.

The members of the group matched the driver identification card with the list of these names, and if their names were on this list, they would have been executed without trial!

These films spread throughout the world, and the wonder of the whole world prompted which ideology and religion could be, according to which, people were allowed to kill someone by merely naming and without trial, killing someone along the road and rejoicing.

The problem is that the members of this group, other than themselves, do not know the rest of the people as religious and religious, so they assume any violence and murder as loyal to their religious ideology, while many Muslims around the world, especially their classroom, are astonished at these actions and never do such acts godly and on the basis of religion and hate them.

Is Isis a Terrorist?

“Terror” means the creation of horror and fear. In fact, terror means the use of unexpected, shocking and unlawful violence against civilians to force a state or a society to accept demands based on an ideology.

But what does a terrorist want from a psychological point of view, what happens in society and what is his goal? They create psychological phenomena in society, through which they pressure the people and civilians to push them on to governments, and ultimately, to reach the demands of that group. The psychological phenomena that are caused by terrorist movements and their news in people are horror, discomfort and turmoil, unrest and restlessness, pessimism, anxiety and anxiety, anger, grief and tragedy.

Most importantly, the combination of all these unpleasant feelings is causing a lot of confusion, discomfort and insecurity inside people. But what makes the assassination possible? It is clear that those who do such behaviors do not consider themselves brutal or inhumane, and they have the absolute right to do such acts.

In recent years, investigations have been carried out on those who have had extreme behaviors. One of the most important and best investigated was Dr. Wagdey Luzza at the University of Cantabria on the terrorism of religious groups such as al-Qaeda, with the Middle East approach, and the results could be extended to ISIS. According to the study, it turned out that in the West, most of those joining these groups are men aged 17 to 23, usually from middle-class families with relatively high academic and academic achievements in modern science with academic degrees.

But the results of the 1999 study also revealed that those who carry out terrorist acts in their own countries are people with low and unemployed education who have been roughly dropped out of the text of the community, and themselves have separated themselves from the context of society.

The leaders of these radical and radical religious groups, on average 15 years older than the followers and other members of the group, are about 40 years old, have a great deal of affection and influence, are able to inspire the respect of their followers and their own self, Their ideology, in such a way that they can influence others, have intrinsically an influential personality, inspire others, encourage in the best possible way, usually do not fear death and are professors of death. Of course, in the leaders of these groups, there are people who, incidentally, completely escape death while encouraging others to die in the ideology.

Those who are attracted to groups like ISIS are abnormal?

There is no consensus on this. Some studies show that many of these people have personality disorders. Some even suffer from major psychiatric disorders. But the most important point of the personality that can be mentioned is that they have grown up in a family or a community that has created a feeling of self-sufficiency and humiliation.

These people have never been taken seriously and they feel that they are not first class citizens and their rights are different from the rights of other citizens. They feel like they are not treated to others. One of the most prominent examples of this situation may be seen in the behavior of Arab people living in the suburbs of Paris over the past 2-3 years. They were born in Paris and had a French passport, but their sense of belonging and attachment to the French community was not formed, which caused disturbances in Paris, which caused a lot of damage.

After that, the French government has just realized that it cannot continue to discriminate, and must provide grounds for joining these people to French culture while respecting Arab and Islamic culture in order not to face such rebellion and chaos.

Another aspect of the personality of the members of such groups is that they do not have personality independence and they need to follow someone else with a higher appeal. They have no self-confidence and can only feel confident within an ideology, that is, ideology with rough behaviors so that nobody dares to stand in front of them.

People who lack the sense of empathy and sympathy with others, and they are not basically born of a child of conscience, suffered a severe damage to their self-image from a childhood, which is said to be bad in their family and society, they are a bad people, their religion is not worthless. , Have a brutal nationality, and they are constantly seeking to abandon their anger, and one of the best ways to do this is to join groups that can be abused by membership and violent behavior.

Members of these groups are pessimistic about the world around them and the world, and sometimes have a lot of mental employment, for example, under the control of a very violent parent or violent and punitive rule. Groups like ISIS will be able to empower them. People with such characteristics are so influenced and influenced by a kind of hypnosis that their contacts with the facts are discontinued and their perceptions of facts are confused.

One of the things that the leaders of these groups do well is brainwashing, that is, brainwashing ideological issues in the name of reality in the whole universe, and assuring them that the truth is what their leaders say.

Another group of researchers, according to their studies, has concluded that members of the terrorist groups do not have an abnormal character at all; many of them naturally, educated and highly adhered to their ideology, and are even willing to sacrifice their lives for their ideology. In fact, these people, through sacrificing their lives, feel useful, sacrificed and sacrificed and are proud to be in this way, which ultimately leads to a great name in this world and a fortune-telling to come place for them.

In my opinion, naturally, both groups of these people are seen in groups like ISIL, and perhaps we should look at their behavior in order to find out the reality. I believe that what distinguishes natural people from abnormal is the degree of conscientiousness.

Those who believe in devotion and sacrifice and honesty are surely not willing to surrender their captive family members without trial, roadside, and in front of their eyes.

Unfortunately, due to the actions and actions of the ISIS group, it seems that most of its members have an abnormal character and their thoughts are immortal and primitive. They are usually accustomed to learning to look very straightforward. The example of this is the declaration of the caliphate for the whole world from an area in Iraq and the burning of European citizens’ passports to show that they are universal and do not think nationally! These people believe that they have established a government and a caliphate for the whole world, all of which shows their simplicity.

They see phenomena as absolute black or white, or good or bad. They see the world divided into two categories: the helpless rich, the exploited, and the poor, are miserable, and this means thinking all or nothing. Their beliefs are based on the rejection of the thoughts of others, rather than certain beliefs, and they consider all the rights to themselves. Moreover, they believe that their thinking for all ages and for all people and all the conditions is right, so they want to persuade everyone to force their ideology and if anyone opposes it, they seek to hurt him. Clearly, the analytical system of these groups is weak because the training that they have seen in their schools is more based on memory rather than analysis.

Finally, I emphasize that the formation of ISIS and its groups is the result of being repelled and humiliated by the family and society. Therefore, if any country wants a phenomenon like ISIS not to emerge, one must understand that it is necessary to respect the rights of citizenship and religion of the people

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy