Questions on intelligence gathering, sharing and assessment
First question that stands out in the debate on the tipoff to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters on the day of the coup attempt on July 15 is whether it was “an exact warning” of a coup. The second question is a more general one on whether any intelligence had reached government institutions beforehand on a coup attempt by the Gülen movement.
Both the MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar reported that Major O.K. did not directly mention a coup; he only informed of an act against MİT.
However, Akar said they assessed the intelligence as though it was “part of a bigger plot.” Other witness statements pointed out that Fidan had also reached the same conclusion.
Well, what kind of a “bigger plot” can it be to fly helicopters from a military base to kidnap the national intelligence’s chief? Since this is not a military drill, it is only logical that a coup d’état comes to minds.
It is unquestionable that Akar’s decision to shut the Turkish air space to military flights and ban the exit of tanks from Ankara’s Etimesgut is efforts to prevent a suspected insurrection. In that case, then we should ask a very basic question: Why did Akar regard the measure taken at Etimesgut sufficient? Since he had the possibility of tanks rolling on streets in mind, shouldn’t he have thought of this possibility for other cities, primarily for Istanbul?
Similarly, couldn’t have Gen. Akar phoned force commanders and gave a heads up for them to be cautious? The Chief of General Staff, while he was closing the air space for military flights, found it sufficient to inform the Armed Forces Operation Command Center (SKKHM). This order has reached Air Forces Commander Abidin Ünal, who was in Istanbul at 7:06 p.m.
As far as we know, Gen. Ünal was informed of this development immediately by the center while he was attending a wedding at Istanbul’s Moda Deniz Club. Curious why such an order was given, he immediately called the chief of general staff but was told he was in a meeting. Most probably the putschist aide did not put him through.
There is another debatable aspect in the course of action Akar took when he blocked the tanks at Etimesgut fearing their mobility. As a matter of fact, Etimesgut is not the only place capable of mobilizing tanks. The 28th Mechanized Brigade Command in Mamak should also have been considered.
There was a serious clash between the putschists and opposing ones in the Etimesgut barracks but none of the tanks were out. Well, where did the tanks and armored vehicles rolling on Ankara streets on the night of July 15 -some of them getting lost, some of them coming all the way to the front of the headquarters of the General Staff and some of them driving into people and cars – come from?
The answer is that they came from the 28th Mechanized Brigade from Mamak.
Now, looking at the general intelligence issue of the coup; Gen. Akar wrote to the parliamentary commission. “It was an unexpected situation for many people, including other institutions of the state, that this structuring, by infiltrating into civilian military and police, all institutions of the state for a long time and by hiding itself systematically, would dare topple the elected government, take it to the point of controlling the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] and Turkey,” he wrote.
The same issue was covered in Fidan’s answer to the parliamentary commission as such: “Despite the fact that in previous notes MİT has shared with external offices, it has been informed that the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY) could attempt staging a coup, but because intelligence within the TSK could not be collected, a clear intelligence about the date of the coup attempt was not reached beforehand.”
As you can see, while Akar said the coup was “an unexpected situation for many people, including other institutions of the state,” MİT Undersecretary said: “We had informed them of a coup attempt.”
We come to the question at the beginning: Since MİT had already conveyed this general intelligence, then the information brought by Major O.K. of “three helicopters will be flown; the MİT chief will be kidnapped,” couldn’t it have been assessed as intelligence directly pointing out to the coup d’état and act accordingly?