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Turkey's Killing Machine: The Contra-Guerrilla Force

By Serdar Celik, in Kurdistan Report
No.17. February/March 1994

How The Force Was Set Up

Turkey joined NATO on April 4, 1952. In the same year, the organisation known as "Gladio", or officially as "Super NATO", whose arm in Turkey is the contra-guerrilla force called Seferberlik Taktik Kurulu (STK - Tactical Mobilisation Group), started its activities in the building of the CIA organisation American Yardim Heyeti (American Aid Delegation - JUSMATT) in the Bahcelievler district of the Turkish capital Ankara. (*1)

During the 1960s, following on from the experience of Korea and Vietnam, the American-dominated armies of NATO began to set up their own special guerrilla warfare units. The 1959 military accord between the Turkish and US governments envisaged the use of the contra-guerrillas "also in the case of an internal rebellion against the regime". (*2)

The STK was restructured in 1965 and was renamed Ozel Harp Dairesi (OHD - Special Warfare Department). It comes under the authority of the President of General Staff and is also known by other titles such as Ozel Kuvvetler Komutanlik (Special Forces Command) or Harekat Dairesi (Operations Department).

Although it was revealed through the "Gladio" affair in Italy in 1990 that such secret organisations also existed in other member states of NATO, and that they maintained close contacts with these countries' secret services and had been involved in a series of murders and bomb plots, the Turkish military and state authorities continued to deny the existence of any such organisation in Turkey.

Only after ex-CIA chief William Colby had revealed that "there is also such an organisation in Turkey" did the Turkish authorities withdraw their false pretentions that there was no Turkish Gladio. On December 3, 1990, General Dogan Beyazit, President of the Harekat Dairesi (Operation Department) of Turkey's General Staff and General Kemal Yilmaz, commander of the Ozel Kuvvetler (Special Forces), issued a press statement. In this statement they revealed that the title of the special NATO organisation in Turkey was Ozel Harp Dairesi (Special Warfare Department) and that its task was "to organise rewsistence in the case of a communist occupation". They further explained that this organisation had fought in Cyprus in 1974 and against the PKK in Kurdistan in 1980, but that its secret members, whom they called "patriots", had "no connection with the contra-guerrilla forces" (1). This latter claim is a blatant lie.

The bloody dictator of the September 12, 1980 coup, Kenan Evren, wrote in his memoirs that Prime Minister Suleyman Demiriel had in the 1970s written to him of his wish to engage the Special Warfare Department to deal with civil unrest (2). This was denied by Demuriel. Bulent Ecevit, another Prime Minister of the 1970s, revealed that: "As Prime Minister I first became aware of its existence in 1974 through requests from Semih Sancar, chief of the General Staff, for money for secret payments to the Special Warfare Department. I was shocked". (3)

How and why was the Special Warfare Department set up?

The founding aim of the Department is: "In the case of a communist occupation or of a rebellion, to use guerrilla methods and all possible underground activities to bring an end to the occupation." (4) The special war methods which are taught supposedly for the prevention of a communist occupation include among others "assasinations, bombings, armed robbery, torture, attacks, kidnap, threats, provocation, militia training, hostage- taking, arson, sabotage, propaganda, disinformation, violence and extortion." (5)

Textbooks by American contra-guerrilla experts were translated into Turkish, and these special war methods were thus introduced into Turkey. Some of the textbooks written by American experts are: "U.S. Army FM 31/16" (contra-guerrilla operations), "U.S. Army Special Warfare School" (contra-guerrilla tactics and techniques), "FM 31/20" (special forces operational techniques), "FM 31/21 Special Forces Operations" (ST urban assignments, 31/21 guerrilla warfare and special forces operations ), "FM 31/21 A. Special Forces Operations (U)" (special forces secret operations). (6)

The Turkish contra-guerrilla force developed the most complex and sophisticated methods for its war against the PKK. Since 1985 a series of new textbooks and instructions for the contra- guerrillas have been published. Just one example is the book "Ic Guvenlik Konsepti" (The Concept of Internal Security), which was published by the Special Warfare Command of the General Staff in 1985, and which is used as a textbook in the contra-guerrilla camps.

The underground elements of the Special Warfare Department - that is, the elements which carry out actions - are called contra- guerrillas. The Special Warfare Department can be identified with the contra-guerrillas, since it is the latter who put the Department's work into practise.

The Turkish contra-guerrillas have many schools in Turkey, in which they receive their training - in Ankara, Bolu, Kayseri, Buca near Izmir, Canakkale and since 1974 in Cyprus. "In the mountain commando school in Bolu, green berets (Delta Forces) who fought in Vietnam also got their training". (7)

The contra-guerrilla teams, who are implanted with a fanatical hatred of the "peril" of "communism" and "separatism", whose heads are full of chauvanism, are unleashed against anyone who stands in opposition to the regime. For their goal, which they pursue with the support of the USA, is "the establishment of a competent military and semi-military force which will, jointly with the security forces, maintain internal security". (9)

In their eyes not only the "communists", but each and every democratic movement is a danger which they aim to counter using guerrilla methods. The American military doctrine as presented in the textbooks holds that "our security is threatened not only by open attacks, but also by other types of threats which are even more dangerous than open attacks but which do not look like open attacks. These dangers consist of the attampts to bring about transformations and changes from the inside." (10)

Selected elements of the Turkish contra-guerrillas together with the generals were all trained in contra-guerrilla schools in the USA. The aims of this training are defined as follows: "The goal of military aid is to educate soldiers from underdeveloped countries in accordance with U.S. ideology and then to install them advantageously in the leadership of their countries". (11) During their training in the USA the contra-guerrilla forces "are taught about social problems in their countries, and shown films which demonstrate the aggression and subversion of the communists. They learn how to handle explosives under the supervision of green berets in Matamoros near the Mexican border, and they are taught how to kill, stab or strangle somebody silently, etc". (12). Other places where Turkish officials are trained are the Escuela de los Americas in Panama, which is attached to the U.S. base Southern Comfort, the Police Academy near Washington and the Schongau and Oberammergau bases in Germany. (*3)

Part of the Special Warfare Department is made up of officers from official units known as A-units or Special Operations Units. As the war became more intense, B-units were formed within the Special Warfare Department, made up of professional volunteer commando forces. Both types of units employ contra-guerrilla tactics.

The forces built by the Special Warfare Department have everywhere formed organisations in the form of cells. These elements, known as "patriots", are placed in front-line duties by being infiltrated as agents-provocateurs into political parties, administrative departments and opposition groups.

The strongest pillar of the Special Warfare Department is the Secret Service. In Turkey the Secret Service is subordinate to the General Staff and so also to the Special Warfare Department. The civilian government has no control whatsoever over the Secret Service. In Turkey there are various secret services: the MIT (National Secret Service Organisation) and the Secret Services of the Gendarmerie, the General Staff, the Foreign Ministry, the Director of Security (the political police) and the Presidential Office. These secret services hold quarterly meetings under the umbrella of the National Secret Service Coordinating Committee.

The MIT has the greatest influence of all these organisations. This Turkish secret service organisation was originally called MAH and was restructured and renamed MIT in 1965. The MIT is a branch of the CIA and collaborates with the Israeli secret service MOSSAD, the German BND and earlier (up to 1975) with the Iranian SAVAK. Many operations of the Special Warfare Department are carried out in collaboration with the MIT. A third of the MIT's functionaries are members of the armed forces and the rest are mostly retired military personnel. It is a legal requirement that the chief of the MIT must be a member of the armed forces. Since the founding of the MIT, all the heads have been generals. They are appointed by the General Staff or by the Special Warfare Department. The 1989 budget of the MIT amounted to 42,745 million Turkish lira. (*4)

Another organisation coming under the Special Warfare Department is the Psychological Warfare Department. On November 9, 1983 this department became the TIB (Ministry for Social Relations). Its headquarters are in Ankara. Its first chief was Dogan Beyazit, who was at the same time also head of the Special Warfare Department. He was in charge of propaganda operations which the CIA program divided into "white, "grey" and "black" propaganda. Many professors were employed within the TIB. (*5)

The TIB has brought out numerous journals and pamphlets and even comics. It formed satellite organisations under such names as "The Institute for Research into Turkish Culture", "Turkish World Research Institute", etc. The main aim of the TIB since the '80s has been to develop the psychological front in the war against the PKK.

With this aim in mind, pamphlets are printed which try to blame the PKK for massacres committed by the contra-guerrillas. Such pamphlets are distributed in various languages in Europe, purporting to originate from such ficticious publishers as "the Union of Anatolian Women". Or else bogus leaflets attacking the PKK are distributed under the names of existing or ficticious political organisations. Posters and leaflets are put about which are full of ridiculous propaganda such as those claiming that the PKK is an Armenian organisation. Or television programmes and books are produced which slander the PKK. In the towns of Kurdistan professors hold seminars about how "Kurds are really Turks" etc. The most effective institution from the point of view of the TIB - that is the Psychological Warfare Department of the Special Warfare Department - is the press. Turkish daily newspapers such as "Hurriyet", "Milliyet", "Tercumann", "Turkiye" and "Sabah", which have become semi-official organs of the state, are pressured into carrying out systematic propaganda against the PKK.

Another area where the Special Warfare Department wields its influence is of course the political parties. All state politicians and all bourgeois parties in Turkey are under the control of the Special Warfare Department. Here are just two examples:

Turkish President Suleyman Demirel was the first Turk to get a scholarship from the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship, which is controlled by the CIA. Later he held for many years the agency rights for the firm of Morrison, which built the death cells in Vietnam. (*6) When Demirel was in the USA in 1963, he was sent into the Adalet Partisi (Justice Party). In 1965 he became the chairman of this party and is now State President.

Turgut Ozal, who was Prime Minister from 1983 to 1990 and President from 1990 until his death in 1993, was an official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Special Warfare Department And Paramilitary MHP

During the 1970s the struggle for democracy was developing in Turkey. In Kurdistan the struggle for national liberation was growing. With the help of the MHP (National Action Party), which was brought onto the scene in the 70s, hundreds of students, workers, intellectuals, trades unionists and educationalists were murdered: the president of DISK (the Federation of Revolutionary Trades Unions) Kemal Turkler, the journalist Abdi Ipekci, Professor Dr Bedri Karafakiroglu, professors Umit Doganay and Cavit Orhan Tutengil, Umit Kaftancioglu, State Counsel Dogan Oz, security chief Cevat Yurdakul, University Professor Orhan Yavuz, Bedrettin Comert, Server Tanilli (who survived but remained disabled), Chair Adana Chamber of Agricultural Engineers Akin Ozdemir and hundreds more. In 1974 in Maras they massacred inumerable Kurdish and Alevi people - children, women and old folk and men. This preplanned act of genocide opened the way for the military coup of September 12, 1980.

It is know from the experiences of various countries that the CIA works together with the police to organize paramilitary groups in the tactics of irregular warfare. William Colby wrote: "To prevent Turkey from falling into the hands of the communists, the CIA gave support to anti-communist institutions". (13) Retired general Sezsi Orkunt, ex-chief of the General Staff said: "The Turkish armed forces were more worried about the Left than the Right. The Right was organised in the MHP and its leader Turkes was helped on his way". (14) When the MHP's Ankara headquarters were searched at the time of the 1980 coup, the "Contra-Guerrilla Assignment 31/15 on the Model Plan for Underground Cells" was found there. (15) The MHP had obtained this plan from Colonel Mehmet Alanyuva of the Agents Section of the Special Warfare Department, the MHP's militants, who were organised in accordance with this plan, went on to perpetuate a veritable massacre against innocent people from the opposition.

The CIA also employed the MHP militants for terrorist plots on an international level. For example, the murderer of the journalist Abdi Ipekci was the same man who in 1991 carried out the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul.

The MHP is also organised in Europe, and particularly in Germany. Until 1976 it was organised there under the same title. After that in Europe they took on the title Avrupa Ulkucu Dernekleri Federasyonu (Federation of National Associations in Europe). The MHP's organisation in Germany maintains connections with the German Secret Service. The journalist Ugur Mumcu, who was assassinated in 1993, wrote: "These connections were set up in Cologne by a German named Kannabin". (16) The MHP has another patron in Germany - Rudi Nazar. He is a CIA agent who was for many years active in Ankara and was later transferred to Bonn. Jurgen Roth went into this matter in detail in his book "Criminals Incorporated" and came to the conclusion, based on information from a president of one of the republics of the former Soviet Union, that the MHP is also involved in the heroin trade in Germany.

General Haydar Saltik, one of those responsible for the September 12, 1980 coup, later left the army and became Consul in the Turkish consulate in Berne. He renewed his contacts with the Turkish nationalists and sent 15,000 officers and MHP militants, who came under the Special Warfare Department and had already had a hand in many attacks against the Armenians, to Azerbaijan. After their training, these militants were sent to Baku. The attacks on the Kurdish population in Antalya and other Turkish towns during the past year were also carried out by the MIT and the MHP. The MHP is still the paramilitary wing of the Special Warfare Department. This time, however, it was more effective, since the entire state with all its constituent parts has grown into an even more racist, anti-Kurdish and paramilitary organisation.

The Operations Of The Turkish Contra-Guerrillas

The bloody work of the Special Warfare Department is so wide- ranging that we can not go into everything here. We will, therefore, go straight over to Kurdistan, where the contra- guerrillas are employed in the front line against the national liberation struggle. First, however, we would like to recount some of the decisive points of the decisive points of the contra- guerrillas' activities prior to 1980:

Agents from the Special Warfare Department threw a bomb into the house in Thessallonika in Greece which was used as the Mustafa Kemal Museum, and blamed this act on the Greek police. Consequently, on the 6 and 7 of September 1955, fanatical groups fired up by the contra-guerrillas wrecked Greek homes and businesses in Istanbul.

The most important actions of the Special Warfare Department were the three military coups. This Department was responsible for the coup of May 27, 1967 and above all for the last two coups of the March 12, 1971 and September 12, 1980. The then Foreign Minister Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil, who was invited to Teheran a few days before March 12, 1971, learned from the Shah of Iran that there was going to be a coup in Turkey. (17) The then commander of the Turkish airforce, Muhsin Batur, went the the USA just before the coup of September 12, 1980. Again the then airforce commander Tahsin Sahinkaya flew to the USA and the coup took place two days after his return. Carter, who was at the opera when he heard about the coup, called Paul Henze, the CIA agent responsible for Turkey, and told him: " Your people have just made a coup". (18)

The torture chambers which opened in 1971 gave the contra- guerrillas an important opportunity to gain practical experience. The contra-guerrilla generals who took people to the torture chambers in Ziverbay in Istanbul told their victims for the first time that they were prisoners of the contra-guerrillas. The interrogations were carried out by contra-guerrilla specialists called EBU (Correct Information Officers). A team of interrogation specialists called the DAL (Deep Investigation Laboratory) was set up by the political police in Ankara. These torture specialists murdered or caused permanent damage to hundreds of people. Later on, these teams were dispatched all over Turkey and especially Kurdistan. In 1971 the contra-guerrillas' torture was directed by General Faik Turun, Turgut Sonap and Memduh Unluturk. (*7)

The invasion of Cyprus was an action of the Special Warfare Department. In 1955 the Department set up a secret organisation called the Turk Mukavemet Hareketi (Turkish Resistance Movement). This organisation carried out systematic provocations in Cyprus in order to prepare the conditions for the 1974 coup. To prepare for the occupation of Cyprus, teams directed by Hiram Abbas and the Special Warfare Department established themselves in Beirut, from where they could organise activities in Cyprus. The Cyprus invasion was organised by the then chief of the Special Warfare Department Kemal Yemek. Cyprus was the first serious test for the Turkish contra-guerrillas. After 1980 Kurdistan took the place of Cyprus in this respect.

The State Security Courts are a product of the Special Warfare Department and they are assigned the task of restructuring the judicial process to fit the demands of the contra-guerrillas. In accordance with a directive of the contra-guerrillas, the the State Security Courts aim "not to condemn the defendants according to the punishments set out for the political crimes, but to administer punishments as severe as those set out for murder and other crimes against the person". (19) The detainees were severely tortured and then came before a contra-guerrilla court. Most of the judges have come from the military and are therefore tools of the Special Warfare Department.

The murders and terrorist acts committed by the MHP were actions of the Special Warfare Department. Their purpose was to intimidate the opposition and prepare the conditions for a coup. The Special Warfare Department was successful in this task: on September 12, they carried out the military coup d'etat. This coup was the most important action of the contra-guerrillas. All arms of the state were reorganised on paramilitary lines. The Special Warfare Department gained control over the underworld (the Turkish mafia), the press, commerce, the judicial system, parliament, the universities and all other areas of society. All administrative organs and laws were restructured along the same lines.


1. Interview with the President of the Turkish General Staff Dogan Gures, "Milliyet" 5/6 September 1992

2. "Hurriyet" 26 November 1992

3. "Milliyet" 28 November 1990

4. "Cumhuriyet" 17 November 1990

5. "Directive ST 31/15 for Operations Against Irregular Forces"

6. "The Contra-Guerrillas and the MHP" Vol 1, Aydinlik Yayinlari, p19 and Talat Turhan "The Contra-Guerrilla Republic", p19

7. "The Contra-Guerrillas and the MHP", p16

8. " The American Military Doctrine, Report of the Rockerfeller Foundation", p356

9. "The Age of Imperialism", Harry Magdorff (translated by M. Emin Doger., "CIA, Contra-Guerrillas and Turkey"), p104

10. ibid. p122

11. McNamara, 1967 (US State Department of Defense)

12. Franco Salinas, "State of Emergency", pp82-88

13. "Cumhuriyet" 21 November 1990

14. "Hurriyet" 19 November 1990

15. "Gunes" 17 November 1990

16. Ugur Mumcu "Pope-Mafia-Agca" p143

17. Cuneyit Arcayurek "Coups and the Secret Services" p160

18. ibid. p190

19. "Directive ST 31/15 for Operations Against Irregular Forces"


*1 The "Super-NATO" organisation was set up under the control of the CIA in all the NATO countries. The headquarters of this organisation was in Brussels and was named the Allied Coordination Committee (ACC). Secret meetings were held annually in which delegates from all the member countries took part. The official purpose of the organisation is "to organise resistance using irregular warfare methods in case of a communist occupation". The organisation has at its disposal special funds and weapons depots. It is not answerable for its activities under the laws of the individual member states. The organisation's branch in Italy was called "Gladio", in Germany "Anti-Communist Assault Unit", in Greece " Hide of the Red Buck", in Belgium "Glavia". The "Super- NATO" also set up branch organisations in non-NATO countries such as Austria and Switzerland.

*2 Referring to contra-guerrilla warfare conducted by the USA, former U.S. Secretary of State McNamara explained that "partisan wars call for a change in our understanding of warfare. In regions where partisan war has broken out, what is needed is not a great number of military units and weapons, but rather small units who have been well trained in guerrilla and counter-guerrilla tactics and armed with special weapons".(8) The American Delta Forces, the British Special Air Service (SAS), the Italian Special Forces Section and the German GSG-9 are units of this type. The former U.S. President Johnson declared in 1964 that 344 contra-guerrilla units had been trained by the USA in 49 countries of the world.

*3 In the 70s the following persons, among others, who still occupy important positions today, were members of the Turkish police and secret service: Sekru Balci, Ilgaz Aykutlu, Kenan Koc, Umit Erdal, Hiram Abbas (who was killed in 1990 [by militants of the armed communist organization Devrimci Sol, was in the 70s one of the three most influential persons in the MIT), Mehmet Aymur (Abbas' right-hand man in the MIT), Hayri Kozakcioglu (who was trained by Scotland Yard and in 1987 made Governor with Special Powers), Unal Erkan (at that time Kozakcioglu's successor as "Supergovernor" in diyarbakir).

*4 Divided among the 55 million people of the Turkish and Kurdish population, this means 949 Turkish Lira per head that every Turk and Kurd have to pay in order to finance the "work" of spying, torture and murder of this gang of killers.

*5 Professors Abdulhaluk Cay, Ibrahim Kafescioglu, Bahattin Ogel, Ertugrul Zekai Okte, Aydin Yalcin, among others.

*6 "In 1967 the CIA's budget for the funding of 'useful friends and elements' abroad was raised to 10 million U.S. dollars per year. Most of these funds flowed through our trade unions, student unions and special institutions into foreign institutions. The use of our trade unions and associations as a sort of screen prevented it from becoming known that the source of these funds was in reality the CIA". (Fron the book "CIA, Secret Services and Democracy" by the former CIA chief Stanfield Turner).

*7 Faik Turun became an MP for the AP (Justice Party) in 1977. Turgut Sunalp became a minister in parliament in 1982 as a member of the MDP (National Democratic Party). The retired Memduh Unluturk was killed by militants of the organization Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left) in 1991.

(From Kurdistan Report #17 - February/March 1994)

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