Turkey’s intel chief under fire for alleged failure in stopping coup attempt
ANKARAThe chief of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT), Hakan Fidan, has come under fire for not informing high level officials of the July 15 failed coup attempt. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Interior Minister Efkan Ala said they learned about the coup attempt from various sources other than the country’s intelligence chief.
“We learned about the start of the coup attempt after nearly 15 minutes. We learned it from our bodyguards, citizens and our friends and relatives,” Yıldırım told journalists after making examinations at the Gölbaşı Special Operations Department in Ankara, where 50 police officers were killed on the night of the coup attempt.
“Since the issue became public, I can tell you this. We didn’t receive any information on the scale of the threat before that. However, it doesn’t matter at this point. What’s important is that we are doing the necessary things to prevent this evil that we’ve defeated from becoming a threat once again,” he also said, referring to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which the government says was behind the coup attempt.
Saying that the allegations would be reviewed, Yıldırım stressed the necessary steps will be taken.
“We’ll check if there were institutional or personal weaknesses concerning the coup attempt. The president described the start of the events and so did we. What’s important is what we did after we learned about it. The treacherous organization was brought down and the people took a deep breath,” he also said. Erdoğan also made similar remarks regarding the issue for two consecutive days, saying there had been an intelligence failure regarding the coup attempt.
“It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it,” Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview in Ankara on July 21, adding that he shared his views regarding the “failure” with Fidan.
He was initially unable to reach the head of the armed forces or Fidan, and after some difficulty was able to contact the prime minister, Erdoğan also said.
Erdoğan on July 20 also described how events unfolded during the failed coup attempt, saying that he learned about the failed coup attempt on July 15 from his brother-in-law, not the intelligence services.
“It was my brother-in-law who first gave me the news. Initially my reaction was disbelief,” Erdoğan told Al Jazeera in an interview.
Meanwhile, Ala said he learned about the coup attempt at around 11:00 p.m., which was nearly two hours after soldiers went out into the streets.
“I was coming to Ankara from Erzurum by plane. When we landed, my bodyguard told me that there was a coup going on. Around that time Hakan Fidan called me and said, ‘There is a coup going on. They’re bombing us,’” Ala told Turkish broadcaster NTV on July 22, as he added that the intelligence failure was “apparent.”
“There’s actually a system failure. I don’t want to evaluate with prejudgment regarding intelligence but a notice should have been given,” he also said.