More from Wikileaks on the DHKP in Turkey

Follow clayclai on Twitter

Below the fold are a number of Stratfor Global Intelligence file emails that I have found in my research in the the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front [DHKP-C] that is being widely blamed for the suicide bomber attack against the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

These documents, which have been obtained by Wikileaks are being released as part of an investigative partnership between WikiLeaks and myself..

Document 5281679 is the most thorough report on the DHKP I've found in the Stratfor files :

Turkey - Update on the DHKP-C

Date 2009-04-30 16:42:15

Hi Tony,

I'm not sure if Emerson operates in Turkey, but in case you do, I wanted to make sure you saw this piece regarding the DHKP-C in Turkey. About this time last year, Stratfor received information that this group was planning suicide attacks against Western businesses in Turkey and had possibly infiltrated their business operations to further their goals. We don't have any indications that similar attacks were planned in the latest round of violence, though it's certainly worth noting that the group is continuing to plan suicide attacks. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Best regards, Anya

Turkey: A Failed Suicide Bombing in Ankara

April 30, 2009 | 1105 GMT Summary

An attempted suicide bombing April 29 against a former Turkish justice minister in Ankara was probably staged by a Marxist-Leninist group that has been quiet since 2006. But it appears there is still a core element of the organization that does have experience planning attacks and could train others to carry them out. The group's tradecraft, however, has proved less than effective.


Former Turkish Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk was the target of an attempted suicide bombing April 29 at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Turk is a member of the law faculty at the university and has taught classes there since he left office in 2002. He was entering a classroom to present a lecture when a woman posing as a student, later identified as Didem Akman, approached him wanting to ask him a question. According to Turk, he dismissed her question and heard a small explosion as he entered the classroom.

It appears that the detonator in the improvised explosive device functioned but failed to initiate the device's main charge. (Police report that Akman had one kilogram of explosives strapped to her body.) She also had a handgun that she drew, but she was overpowered by bodyguards and neutralized as a threat. Akman sustained non-life-threatening injuries, but no one else was hurt during the attack.

Another suspect, Onur Yilmaz, was arrested at a bus terminal near the university after he was seen in security footage accompanying Akman. Turkish media reported that a third suspect was being questioned in connection with the assassination attempt. According to Reuters, one of the suspects has served time in prison for being connected to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C), a Marxist-Leninist group formed in Turkey in 1978.

DHKP/C's primary target set has been Western and state interests in Turkey, including businesses. The group is known to go after retired security and military personnel and to operate across Europe, including in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Austria. The group started using suicide bombings as a tactic in 2001 but has been largely quiet since 2006; a government crackdown on the group over the past 10 years has neutralized its most experienced members, including bombmakers. Replacing these technicians is difficult, as bombmaking requires a level of training and technical knowledge that cannot simply be picked up on the Internet.

The tactics used in the April 29 attack match previous DHKP/C tactics, including the use of female suicide bombers. Similar operations were carried out by the group in:

* May 2003, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in an Ankara cafe, killing only herself. * June 2004, when a female operative died en route to carrying out a suicide attack in Istanbul, killing only herself. * July 2005, when a man attempting to detonate a suicide vest in front of Turkey's Justice Ministry in Ankara was shot and killed, preventing the attack.

While its track record in suicide bombings is quite poor, the DHKP/C is suspected to be behind an Istanbul University bus bombing that killed four people and injured 21 in June 2004.

The group's tactics have typically included small-scale bombings and small-arms attacks that could easily be conducted by militants with little training or tactical expertise, and there is no reason to believe the group would stray from these methods of operation. There is also no evidence that the group has developed additional capabilities to carry out larger-scale attacks. While many DHKP/C members have been arrested over the past decade, and while there have been no attacks attributed to the group since mid-2006, it appears that there is still a core element of the organization that does have some rudimentary experience planning attacks and could train others to carry them out. Judging by the attack on April 29, the group does not appear to have an accomplished bombmaker.

While one attack does not necessarily mean the group has returned from its hiatus, Western businesses should be aware of its presence, given its strongly anti-Western (particularly anti-U.S.) slant. Soft targets such as ex-government officials teaching at a university are a hallmark of the group's tradecraft. On the other hand, another hallmark of the group appears to be faulty explosive devices, which limits its effectiveness.

According to another Stratfor report produced by Senior Researcher Matthew Powers, exert from 162759, Germany is perceived to be easy on the DHKP, causing issues for Turkey:

A record number of Germans spend their vacations in Turkey, with around 5 million visitors expected this year. Turkey welcomes them with an open visa policy, whereas Turks are often confronted with difficulties in getting visas from German consulates. Stories of businessmen who send products to fairs in Munich, Hanover or Frankfurt but cannot travel because their applications are rejected or not processed in time still make the headlines in Turkish dailies. This unfortunately adds to distaste and a mistrust of Germans by the Turkish public. Coupled with this, German authorities' reluctance in effectively dealing with militants belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) in Germany further damage these ties and fuel all sorts of conspiracy theories here in Turkey.

There was a suicide bombing in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Halloween 2010 targeting the police but the Stratfor guys thought it looked more like the PKK rather than the DHKP. Stratfor internal email 1327595:

Date 2010-10-31 13:44:25
Suicide Bombing in Istanbul
A suicide bomber detonated explosives near a police bus in Istanbul's Taksim Square at 10:35 a.m. local time Oct. 31, injuring at least 22 people, including 12 civilians and 10 police. Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said a second device was found next to the dead attacker's body. Witnesses said that the attacker tried to approach the police bus in Taksim Square under the guise of asking for directions, but the explosive device he was carrying detonated a couple of meters before he reached the bus. Other witnesses said that the suicide attacker was shot dead by the police after he detonated a smaller explosive device of some kind.

Taksim Square is a crowded area in central Istanbul frequented by both locals and tourists. As such, police are constantly deployed there to prevent security threats. The hour of the attack, however, suggests that police and not civilians were the primary target of the attacker (though civilian casualties were not intentionally avoided), since Taksim Square would have been much more crowded with civilians in the afternoon and the evening. Police, and specifically police buses, have been the frequent target of attacks in Turkey by the Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in recent months. Even though no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet and the police chief said the investigation was ongoing, given the target and timing of the attack right before a unilateral PKK cease-fire was set to end, it is likely the work of the PKK, though other militant groups such as Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C) that use suicide bombers cannot be ruled out.

As STRATFOR has noted, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has warned that the unilateral cease-fire declared by the PKK in August and extended for another month in September could end at the end of October over the militant group's dissatisfaction with steps taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to meet its demands for an indefinite cease-fire. This stance was repeated by several politicians of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party (BDP). Moreover, the attack is similar to a previous attack by the PKK against a bus carrying police in June 2010, again shortly after the PKK declared that the cease-fire was over. By attacking the police on the last day of October, when the cease-fire was set to end, the PKK could be sending a blunt message to the Turkish government that the cease-fire is now over and police are among its targets in major cities in addition to military outposts in southeastern Turkey.

Another Stratfor email, of which I am only reproducing a few paragraphs here, give us a some info on the relationship between the PKK and the DHKP. This link will take you to the whole document as soon as they go live on the Wikileaks site. From Stratfor email 1492487:

PKK-affiliated news agencies confirm that many of the terrorist attacks in the last two years were led by provincial group leaders without the approval of the central PKK leadership. Intelligence services pinpoint the Dersim Group as the most radical and violent group within the PKK. This group is led by Kalkan, Bozan Tekin and Mahir Atakan. There is also the presence of foreign recruits in this group as well as former members of militant organizations such as the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKPC) and the Liberation Army of Workers and Peasants in Turkey (TIKKO)."

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria