New discoveries regarding the activities of the Turkish National Intelligence Service

Aram S. Sayiyan

In the second half of the 1970’s, the internal political situation in the
Republic of Turkey remained tense. Larger and larger masses of the population of Turkey were joining leftist views. The situation became more complicated when the public and the political forces of the national minorities, such as ASALA or the Kurdish Workers’ Party, also joined them. The Turkish military leadership incited right-wing nationalist groups under its influence to clash with the leftist parties to create chaos in the country, and then to create a demand for a “strong hand” among the Turkish public in order to carry out a military coup and stop the influence of the socialists and the Soviet Union. Members of nationalist group «Bozkurt» Abdullah Chatli, Oral Chelik and Mehmed Ali Aghja killed several socialists in Ankara in 1978 and in the next year – socialist Abdi Ipekchi, who was the editor of “Milliyet»” newspaper and then moved to Europe. In 1981 Mehmed Ali Aghja carried out an assassination attempt othe Pope.

In 1975, ASALA, the secret army for the liberation of Armenia, was created in Lebanon. After a short time, the organization and other Armenian groups began to carry out terrorist activities in Europe and North America, mainly against the Turkish diplomats, in order to attract the attention of the Western governments and the international structures to the forgotten Armenian issue. However, when ASALA warriors captured Ankara’s Esenbogha airport and a Turkish military attaché was killed in Ottawa in August 1982, the Turkish authorities decided to resort to punitive measures. Although the Turkish National Intelligence Service wanted to carry out these operations with its regular officers, president Kenan Evren ordered them to be carried out by the nationalist groups who fled to Europe after the military coup of 1980, so that the punitive actions would be presented as the response of the Turkish community. Among the nationalist groups that fled to Europe, the most famous was the group of Abdullah Chatli and Oral Chelik, who were mainly involved in the sale of heroin. The Turkish intelligence service provided them with a list of the Armenian targets, as well as explosive materials. In addition, the NIS also attracted other terrorist groups to punitive actions against Armenians: the Kurdish El-Zein family living in Lebanon, and the Iraqi Turkmen group in Holland. From 1984 to1985 these groups carried out a number of terrorist operations against Armenians and their sturctures in different coutries of Europe by assasiatig their leaders.

In addition to terrorist activities, the Turkish authorities also used economic and political levers in the fight against the Armenians, attracting the interest of the Western powers to the Turkish market liberalized after the military coup, as well as maintaining active political contacts with them, as a result of which many Western countries recognized ASALA as a terrorist organization.