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POLITICS > Police averts 284 terrorist attacks thanks to wiretapping

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A police report submitted to a parliamentary commission says that 284 terrorist attacks averted and 138 bombers arrested thanks to intelligence gathered by legal wiretapping

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Simple wiretapping devices can easily be found in market, says BDP Deputy Hasip Kaplan urging police to take measure against illegal wiretapping. DHA photo

Simple wiretapping devices can easily be found in market, says BDP Deputy Hasip Kaplan urging police to take measure against illegal wiretapping. DHA photo

Göksel Bozkurt Göksel Bozkurt goksel.bozkurt@hurriyet.com.tr

A police report submitted to a parliamentary panel indicates that 284 terrorist attacks have been averted and 138 bombers have been arrested thanks to intelligence the police department has gathered through legal wiretapping.

Parliament’s Eavesdropping Examination Commission started its works this week, with senior police and military intelligence officers providing information on how they used technical devices to stop criminal activities. Gürsel Aktepe, deputy head of the Intelligence Department of the Police and Colonel Fuat Güney, head of the Gendarmerie Technical Intelligence Unit, briefed the commission on Feb. 21.
Known as the “bug commission,” the panel has been established upon the request of opposition parties, after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that the secret service had discovered that his home and office were being listened in on by anonymous persons. The commission started to work, first of all getting information from security institutions that use legal wiretapping as part of their daily work.

‘138 bombers arrested’

As a result of the legal wiretapping of more than 1,000 phones and physical surveillance in 2,300 cases, the police captured 125 kilograms of explosives, four automatic rifles, seven rifles, eight pistols, and arrested 17 members of al-Qaeda, Aktepe said. He added that the police’s pursuit of al-Qaeda had taken seven years to reach this result.
The number of terrorist attacks prevented in the last three years is 284 and the number of bombers who were arrested before they could perpetrate bombing attacks is 138, Aktepe said, adding that hundreds of kilograms of explosives and chemical materials havd been captured in operations against terrorists.

A striking piece of information given by Aktepe was that six members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C) were arrested in March last year, before they were able to commit terrorist attacks against the house of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The police also nixed DHKP/C members’ plans to assassinate former justice minister Hikmet Sami Türk, according to Aktepe.

Stressing that legal wiretappings constituted an important instrument in the police’s fight against criminal gangs, Aktepe said 26 tons of drugs, 1,099 weapons, 55 million Turkish Liras’ worth of fake currency, more 1,200,000 opiate drugs, and around 5,000 stolen artifacts have been taken in police operations. Around 6,500 persons have been arrested as part of these operations.

Deputy head of the Telecommunication Directorate Nihat Şen also informed the commission members on the technicalities of wiretapping and how they could take measures against it if they suspected it was being used against themselves. Instead of using hi-tech android mobile phones, Şen advised lawmakers to use simple phones and told them to count the number of text messages they sent every day. “If the number of SMS indicated in your account is higher than you actually send, then it may be evidence that you are being wiretapped. Because your phone conversations are sent via SMS to those who wiretap you,” he explained.

During the commission’s work, Hasip Kaplan, a lawmaker from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) asked police officers whether they were taking care about simple devices that could be used in wiretapping and which could be easily found on the markets. Police officers replied that these devices could not be found in markets and that it was not easy to purchase one, but Kaplan challenged them.

He called an online dealer of such devices and negotiated with the seller, putting his phone on loudspeaker so the commission could hear. “If you buy this device, you can easily wiretap. We have a lot of devices that would meet your needs,” the seller told Kaplan, who later urged police officers to take efficient precautions in stopping the sale of such devices.

February/23/2013

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