Super-cyber Turkey in Syberia – revisited

Super-cyber Turkey in Syberia – revisited

“Super-cyber Turkey in Syberia” appeared in this column on Apr. 11, 2014 – barely a year and a half ago. It mentioned how Turkey’s security apparatus proudly launched a Center for Response to National Cyber Threats. Earlier, the Turkish military headquarters had formed a Cyber Warfare Command. In 2013 alone, Turkey had hosted about a dozen conferences on cyber security and new technologies. In short, every defense bigwig was saying the same thing: how cyber and related technologies would be efficiently used to bolster homeland security. Very well.

Funny, though, Turkey’s ambitious cyber efforts came at a time when unknown sources had recorded and leaked a top secret Syria meeting at the Foreign Ministry. Even then, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s encrypted phone had been tapped and the conversation contents uploaded on social media.  

Unfortunately, super-cyber Turkey’s cyber security and intelligence units embarrassingly failed in taking pre-emptive strikes on the perpetrators of the bomb attacks in Adana, Mersin and Diyarbakır – attacks targeting Kurdish and/or pro-Kurdish gatherings. They, further embarrassingly, failed in grabbing the jihadist suicide bomber who killed 33 pro-Kurdish activists in Suruç before they could only grab his body parts on July 20. 

Less than three months later, Turkey mourns the death of nearly 100 people, and, according to news reports, one of the two men who must now be enjoying 72 virgins each and rivers of flowing wine happens to be the brother of the Suruç suicide bomber, and that, according to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s security services keep a list of potential suicide bombers! Why, really, do Turkey’s security services keep that list? To play betting games on who on the list will be the first to blow himself up together with dozens of innocent people? Which officer won the bet on Oct. 10?

Once again, Turkish security and intelligence were able to grab a jihadist’s body part, not the jihadist. And once again the authorities rule out any security negligence – like they did in Adana, Mersin, Diyarbakır and Suruç. That is hardly surprising in a country that persistently features a political culture in which resignation is a taboo and politicians and appointed officials are programmed to cover up each other’s faults. 

As always, there is the black humor side of every Turkish governmental failure, security or otherwise.

The state broadcaster TRT’s web news page featured an article full of typical words and Turkish propaganda for the Turks. That piece of news quoted Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, general manager of the country’s state-controlled defense electronics, software -and now cyber security- firm, proudly announcing: 

“Cyber security has become a very important issue … We [Havelsan] have very important research and development projects … We are proud that we shall soon produce cyber security solutions that will make a sound … Havelsan, like in Turkey, is becoming a very important global player in this field.”

How nice… 

TRT’s web page ran that news precisely at 10:58 a.m. on Oct. 10. Perhaps Havelsan’s solutions could not tell, but precisely 54 minutes ago jihadists who had successfully escaped Turkey’s homeland security –and cyber security-- capabilities really made a big sound when they detonated the explosives wrapped on their bodies. 

The timing was truly bad luck on the part of Mr. Atalay. All the same, it does not change the fact that Turkish politicians and their appointed bureaucrats have the habit of making too big, loud but unconvincing speeches while the terrorists are at quiet work.