ISTANBUL—A clandestine intelligence organization operating within Turkey’s police structure reportedly was assigned to combat “Armenian separatism,” according to cables release by Wikileaks, reported the whistleblower Web site’s Turkish partner, Taraf on Monday.
The cable, titled “A rare look at Turkish Military Intelligence: Iraq, PKK worries, paranoia, anti-NATO campaign,” was dispatched on Dec. 21, 2004, by Robert Deutsch, then-defense attaché at the US Embassy in Ankara, reported the Hurrieyt Daily News, quoting Taraf.
Deutsch spoke to an unnamed Turkish source described as someone “who has experience on intelligence and security analysis” and “someone who worked for 12 years at military intelligence and has given lectures at the police academy in the past.” The source offered a report based on talks with 40 operatives of the secret organization, known as JİTEM, as well as fieldwork in southeastern Anatolia.
The state reportedly assigned JİTEM to combat “Armenian separatism” in Southeast Anatolia, according to the cable. The order surprised many JİTEM officers, according to the unnamed source speaking to Deutsch, given that only “a handful of Armenians [were known] to remain in southeastern Anatolia.”
It was explained, however, that many Armenians changed their names and hid their identities both willingly and by force during the events of 1915, meaning that there was a continuing, though hidden, Armenian presence throughout Southeast Anatolia that was worrying the state.