Intelligence agency MIT stepped up its crackdown on the PKK, eliminating dozens of terrorists in a year, forcing the terrorist group’s leadership to find new hideouts as top figures are targeted one by one.
The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has been quiet about its counterterrorism activities in the past but Türkiye’s top intelligence body is more open in publicizing its operations nowadays. This is largely due to the heightened success in the past two decades to find and eliminate terrorists, whether in Türkiye or abroad. Through publicizing, MIT also apparently hopes that the terrorist group would be daunted in its vicious campaign of violence for more than 40 decades that killed thousands.
Flanked by armed drones, MIT agents carried out 181 operations in the past year and eliminated 201 terrorists. They also managed to destroy 45 energy facilities and parts of infrastructure the terrorist group built or operated, along with places used to store weapons and munitions by the PKK. Among the 38 terrorists eliminated by MIT were high-profile names.
The organization’s operations which eliminated terrorists who were behind attacks targeting Türkiye, as well as those who supplied weapons, recruits and cash to the terrorist group curbed PKK’s activities.
Precision operations are often carried out abroad, in Iraq’s north or Syria, two regions swarming with hideouts of the PKK. In Syria’s northeast, the PKK openly operates under the name of YPG, which claimed control of several towns under the guise of the fight against Daesh. Though it is recognized as a terrorist group elsewhere, the PKK also enjoys support from the United States in Syria thanks to this disguise.
Security sources say MIT is instrumental in contributing to Türkiye’s counterterrorism strategy focusing on “eliminating threats at its source,” namely, beyond Türkiye’s borders. The PKK’s leaders are believed to be hiding in Iraq’s mountainous north and unconfirmed reports say some occasionally cross into Syria through porous parts of the border between the two Middle Eastern countries. Unlike in Iraq, the terrorist group is more “urbanized” in Syria where they even set up their own administrations under the name of SDF. MIT’s operations in Syria’s north destroyed critical facilities of the YPG, including an oil refinery where the group reaps the benefits of oil extracted in the region.
The intelligence agency’s fieldwork and employment of drones cornered the PKK and security sources say the operations even drove the terrorist group to infighting, with members accusing each other of betraying the group when their location was uncovered. Airstrikes by Türkiye also dispirited PKK members and increased the number of people leaving the terrorist group. The number of new recruits also significantly dropped.
Another impact of MIT operations was the prevention of large gatherings of the terrorist group where leaders would often rally the members and raise their morale. An end to the gatherings, where the group’s members also received orders on future strategy of the terrorist group, also affected the decision mechanism of the PKK, according to Turkish security sources.
Members of the terrorist group are forced to live underground due to the constant reconnaissance work of security forces and operations. It even changed the mental state of terrorists forced to live in persistent fear. More importantly, communication between the terrorist group’s leadership in Iraq’s Qandil mountain and members in Türkiye, Syria and other regions of Iraq are disrupted due to the reconnaissance work of MIT.
Among the names eliminated by MIT are those who were on the wanted list of Türkiye’s Interior Ministry, as well as elusive top figures of the terrorist group. For instance, Abdurrahman Çadırcı, who had an Interpol arrest warrant, was eliminated in Syria’s Qamishli on June 23. MIT’s operations also eliminated top names of MLKP, a terrorist group affiliated with the PKK, which was behind an attack on a prison van in Türkiye’s Bursa in April 2022.
Saad Ali Bedel, also known as “Ceko Pir,” who was in charge of PKK members in Iraq’s Sinjar, was eliminated there last March. Sabri Abdullah, who ran the “intelligence unit” of the PKK was eliminated in Syria’s north last April. In May, Haydar Demirel, a senior figure of the terrorist group that was the mastermind of attacks targeting Turkish military bases in the past, was eliminated by the Turkish intelligence organization. And Bekir Kına, a trained assassin for the PKK, was eliminated in June.