Turkish Police Crack Down on Israeli Intelligence Activities
In a significant development, Turkish police and intelligence agencies have launched a series of operations against alleged Israeli intelligence activities on Turkish soil. This crackdown, which has resulted in criminal prosecutions, is seen as a milestone in Turkey’s ongoing transformation under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist government.
The operations, directed by the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT), have primarily targeted Israeli intelligence agency Mossad’s efforts to monitor Iranian, Hamas, and affiliated groups operating in Turkey. The aim is to disrupt these activities and send a clear message to Israel and its supporters that such actions will not be tolerated.
Speaking at MIT’s anniversary celebration, President Erdogan stated that Turkey has successfully exposed Mossad’s espionage network, surprising Israel. He warned that this is only the first step and that Israel is yet to understand the new Turkey.
This crackdown on Mossad operations highlights the strained relationship between Turkey and Israel, as the usual channels of communication between the two countries have nearly collapsed. The Turkish government is now asserting its strength and assertiveness through law enforcement, judicial, and intelligence measures.
The escalation of anti-Israel policies under the Erdogan government indicates the influence of radical Islamism on Turkish institutions. This shift in national security priorities is a departure from the permissive environment that allowed Iranian state agents and intelligence services to operate in Turkey.
According to confidential information obtained by Nordic Monitor, four major operations have been conducted against Israeli intelligence in recent years. The first operation, known as “Muteni,” targeted intelligence assets, while the second operation aimed to uncover a network involved in the kidnapping attempt of a Palestinian computer expert.
The third operation focused on identifying foreign nationals facilitating the transfer of funds to Israeli assets and operatives in Turkey. These police operations have led to indictments and trials, with evidence provided by MIT. However, caution is advised when approaching these allegations, considering the Erdogan government’s reputation for weaponizing the criminal justice system and intelligence operations for political objectives.
The ongoing trial, which began in February 2022, involves several suspects charged with offenses such as espionage and disclosing confidential information. The proceedings are still underway, and the Turkish prosecutor has sought a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the suspects upon conviction.
This crackdown on Mossad operations signifies a fundamental shift in Turkey’s national security priorities and reflects the Erdogan government’s anti-Israel stance. It remains to be seen how these actions will impact the strained relationship between Turkey and Israel in the long term.