“There is no doubt that MIT has increased its activities in Germany in the last few years as these activities partly took place in the espionage reports of the German state. Such information has been much discussed by the German public opinion and media,” writes Fehim Işık for Yeni Özgür Politika.
Turkey has been among the top issues included in Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) annual reports. In reports published before the 15 July so called ‘attempted coup’ in Turkey, it had been mainly focusing on the activities of groups and organisations that were opposing the Turkish government. However, things have changed in the last few years. The groups and departments of the Turkish institutions that conduct activities in Germany has been added to the reports in addition to the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the activities of the Gülen movement and other groups.
BfV’s annual report for 2019 was made public by the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and BfV President Thomas Haidenwang. The 377-page report included details regarding the espionage activities of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) in Germany.
Germany is one of the main targets of MIT, the report said. MIT was described by the report as the “central element of the Turkish security architecture” with its recently expanded powers in the last few years.
The report also included information regarding Islamist groups from Turkey, which were closely monitored by the German authorities, under the title of “Islamism/Islamic terrorism”.
Turkish Hezbollah topped the list of such groups together with “Milli Gorus” (‘National Vision’-an ultra-nationalist Turkish association) and Ismail Aga Cult.
Increase in MIT activities after 15 July
There is no doubt that MIT has increased its activities in Germany in the last few years as these activities partly took place in the espionage reports of the German state. Such information has been much discussed by the German public opinion and media.
The activities of Turkey’s MIT in Germany have varied over the years. Erdoğan introduction of wide powers for the MIT came at the same time as MIT’s increased despatches abroad. Germany, which has been home to millions of Kurdish and Turkish expatriates for more than half a century topped the list of the countries where MIT works most actively.
As the BfV report underlined, MIT has centered its activities at the official attache’s office of Turkey in Germany. Through these attache’s offices, the nationalist and extremist Turkish institutions have also been organised.
The activities of the Turkish MIT in Germany have been brought onto the agenda of the German Federal Assembly (Bundestag) many times. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) was the first party to present a proposal on this issue. The Left Party (Die Linke) asked the Federal Government about MIT’s activities in Germany in a parliamentary question. Free Democratic Party (FDP) also raised the issue of Turkey’s espionage activities in Germany.
Benjamin Strasser, a FDP MP at the Bundestag, who raised the issue with a parliamentary question agrees that it is not surprising that Germany has been chosen as the target of MIT after 15 July.
Strasser points out that MIT not only conducts espionage activities, but also tries to infiltrate into the German security units.
A parliamentary question raised by the Left Party noted that all 26 investigations that have been launched against 35 people in relation to Turkish MIT’s espionage activities have all remained inconclusive and incomplete.
This demonstrates the lack of any political will of the German penal institutions to investiage or prosecute in these Turkish ‘agent cases’.
There are many examples that the German penal institutions have been unwilling to act regarding the cases opened against the Turkish MIT.
One of those cases is the case opened against Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu, a former consultant of Erdoğan, when it was revealed that he was collecting information about Kurdish, Alevi and Yazidi activists together with two former intelligence officers.
After they paid bail of 70 thousand Euros, the case was closed in the blink of an eye, in May 2015.
Again, in 2016, German police arrested Mehmet Fatih Sayan, who was building connections with Kurdish politicians with his Kurdish identity. This was not a product of the amazing investigative abilities of the German intelligence or the police. The German police ‘ ‘had to’ ‘catch’ Sayan when the Kurdish people who were the targets revealed some information and this information was published in the media.
Despite all of the information revealed, including Sayan’s espionage work to assassinate three Kurdish politicians, the co-chair of the People’s Congress of Kurdistan (Kongra-Gel) Remzi Kartal, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Committee Member Zübeyir Aydar and the co-chair European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) Yüksel Koç, no prosecutions were achieved.
Sayan’s connection to the Turkish MIT was deciphered in the German court as well, yet Sayan was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence, for a considerably short amount of time after a court case that meant nothing more than ‘cosmetic’ theatrics and to add insult to injury, he was also released on bail.
German media questions the activities of MIT
No matter how much the German judiciary disregarded the activities of the Turkish MIT, the German media has dug deeper and brought the topic to the agenda many times.
ZDFzoom reporters Simone Müller and Susana Santina prepared a documentary, entitled “In the service of Erdogan” (“Im diesnte Erdogans”) revealed how the system of Turkish intelligence in Germany works. A former unofficial employee of the Turkish MIT provided insights into the service’s modus operandi.
In Germany, the Turkish MIT has officially reported about a dozen employees. According to intelligence expert Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, who spoke in the documentary, the number of unofficial informers is significantly higher. Schmidt-Eenboom spoke of a “gigantic number of about 8000 informers” of the Turkish secret service in Germany.
Eenboom also called for attention to the point that the Kurdish population in Germany has been main target that Turkish MIT has closely monitored. Together with the protocols signed by Germany and Turkey, Eenboom stressed, PKK has been chosen as a joint target by both parties.
Two-way activities of Erdoğan in Germany
Ruled by Erdoğan, the Turkish ruling coalition consolidates radical Turkish Islamic, racist and nationalist circles in Germany and has increased its efforts to reduce the influence of the PKK and the Gülen movement. Erdoğan is told to have been conducting two-way activities through both the MIT and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Through the diplomatic activities carried out through the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs “civilian” delegations often visit Germany and hold meetings. These contacts purpose is to motivate German Chancellor Angela Merkel to maintain her pro-Turkey attitude. Turkish intelligence continues the other dimension of these activities in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
German intelligence has detected that people in relationships with Turkish intelligence have also been supporting radical jihadist groups in an attempt to mobilise such groups.
This is a new development for Germany.
Germany, which has tight economic and political relations with Turkey have always watched out for Turkey’s back against other European states. They did this for their own benefit, of course. However, they find it irritating to face such activities of the Turkish intelligence after all they see they have done for Turkey.
German intelligence knows best how radical jihadist groups and pro-AKP (AKP denotes Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party) racist nationalist groups pose a threat to the German state. In order to prevent the polarization in Turkey from being transferred to Germany, they have been keeping their contacts with the AKP government.
However, it will be Erdoğan’s attitude that will determine how these developments, which are monitored closely by the BfV and pose a great risk to the German society, will proceed.
Media: Germany is the backyard of AKP-MHP government
It is possible to get extensive information and a rich variety of views on the network of Turkish intelligence in Germany by following the German media. There has been an explosion in the sheer volume of news covering this topic recently.
BfV, therefore, adds to the list of Turkish institutions, which are deemed as “dangerous” each year. Last year, the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) was added to that list.
The Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) has been known as the AKP’s lobby not just in Germany, but in Europe. European media published news on how UETD organised armed groups, organised racist demonstrations targeting Kurds and other opposition groups.
The information that Deniz Feneri Association, which was established in Germany in 1999, illegally donated 41 million Euro to UETD, was among the exposed scandals.
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) is the favourite institution of the AKP in Germany. The mosques built and projects developed by the DITIB have been donated to by a significant amount of financial aid. Most of their expenses have been covered by the German state as well.
“Osmanen Germania”, which was organised by the partisans of the AKP-MHP (MHP-Nationalist Movement Party) government, has been among the Turkish groups which has also taken attention in recent years. Osmanen Germanie has been known for their criminal and violent activities as well as their roles in some assassination attempts. Even though they were banned by the Germany Ministry of Interior Affairs in 2018, they still continue their organisational works.
Among the photos published in the media, one can see Osmanen Germania cadres posing with AKP’s top names, including Erdoğan’s consultants.
Germany, for the AKP, is for sure a centre of interest, with the population of Turkish voters of over 1.5 million and with AKP’s will to control domestic German politics through this population. That is why the consulates, mosques, assocations, banks and travel agencies affiliated with Turkey all work as an office of the MIT as well