Assassination attempts may follow Turkey’s thwarted coup, says former intel head
Umut Erdem - ANKARAAssassination attempts targeting senior politicians may be carried out following the failure of the July 15 military coup attempt, a former head of Turkey’s intelligence agency has said, stressing that special precautions should be adopted.
“If a coup attempt is unsuccessful, assassinations usually follow. It is the only possibility after that,” former National Intelligence Agency (MİT) head Emre Taner told the parliamentary commission formed to investigate the coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.
“We should keep an eye on imminent assassinations. I have no specific knowledge of anything, but security is of utmost importance. Considering organizations like [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL, special precautions should be taken,” Taner added.
He also described the July 15 coup attempt as a potential “disaster” but Turkey was saved from a “massive calamity.”
“FETÖ was not strong enough alone to carry out the coup. If there are worries about a second or third coup, the global powers behind it should not be ignored,” Taner stated.
He also criticized the MİT over intelligence shortcomings ahead of the coup attempt. “The intelligence agency failed to get [intelligence] that Fethullah Gülen would carry out a coup. We should think and talk about this,” Taner said.
The former MİT head also commented on the collapsed peace process between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, saying he was in favor of the talks being conducted at parliament rather than behind closed doors.
“That was our will, and İmralı’s will was also voiced,” he said, referring to İmralı Island prison, where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence.
Taner also stated that the “Oslo Process” meetings between high-level representatives from the MİT and the PKK should not be recognized as “betrayal.”
“We entered the Oslo Process in order to stop foreign powers abusing the Kurdish issue. Many of the foreign intelligence services had infiltrated the PKK. The Oslo Process was not a betrayal, it was done in order to stop the bloodshed,” he said, adding that there were sides that did not want the peace process to continue.
Taner also criticized the MİT for failing in the “Habur crisis” that erupted after a large group of PKK members were able to return home to southeast Turkey to a hero’s welcome, prompting outrage across the country.