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Turkey: Intelligence Services
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Police System > Intelligence Services

INTELLIGENCE SERVICES


Intelligence gathering is the primary responsibility of the National Intelligence Organization (Milli Istihbarat Teskilati -- MIT), which combines the functions of internal and external intelligence agencies. In 1993 a career diplomat, Sonmez Koksal, was named undersecretary in charge of MIT, the first civilian to head the organization. Each branch of the military has its own intelligence arm, as do the National Police and the gendarmerie. Military intelligence activities in martial law areas aim to prevent seditious activities against the state. Intelligence personnel also engage in electronic eavesdropping and rely on reports of overseas military attach├ęs and exchange information with foreign intelligence services.

Military and civil intelligence requirements are formulated by the National Intelligence Coordination Committee. This committee includes members of the staff of the National Security Council, to which it is directly responsible. Nevertheless, a lack of coordination among the intelligence services is said to be a weakness that hampers MIT effectiveness.

MIT has no police powers; it is authorized only to gather intelligence and conduct counterintelligence abroad and to uncover communist, extreme right-wing, and separatist -- that is, Kurdish and Armenian -- groups internally. The MIT chief reports to the prime minister but was in the past considered close to the military. MIT has been charged with failing to notify the government when it became aware of past plots, if not actual complicity in military coup attempts. The organization functions under strict discipline and secrecy. Housing and headquarters offices for its personnel are colocated in a compound in Ankara.

Kurdish groups in Western Europe have charged the Turkish intelligence service with fomenting dissension and unrest among their various factions. Although these claims have not been verified, it seems likely that infiltration of the Kurdish separatist movement is a high priority for MIT. Members of the agency are also suspected of having acted as agents provocateurs in leftist organizations during the 1970s. Dev Sol is believed to have been infiltrated by intelligence agents, as raids on its establishments in the early 1990s seemed to demonstrate.

Data as of January 1995




Last Updated: January 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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