A Fantastic Tale: Turkey, Drugs, Faustian Alliances & Sibel Edmonds

Dissident Voice, CA
June 29 2004

A Fantastic Tale
Turkey, Drugs, Faustian Alliances & Sibel Edmonds
by John Stanton

June 29, 2004

Taking Turkey as the focal point and with a start date of 1998, it
is easy to speculate why Sibel Edmonds indicated that there was a
convergence of US and foreign counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism
and US national security and economic interests all of which were too
preoccupied to surface critical information warning Americans of the
attacks of September 11, 2001. After all, who would have believed
drug runners operating in Central Asia? And besides, President
Clinton was promoting Turkey, one of the world’s top drug transit
points, as a model for Muslim-Western cooperation and a country
necessary to reshape the Middle East.

The FBI’s Office of International Operations, in conjunction with the
CIA and the US State Department counter-narcotics section, the United
Kingdom’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s ISI, the US DEA, Turkey’s
MIT, and the governments and intelligence agencies of dozens of
nations, were in one way or another involved in the illicit drug
trade either trying to stop it or benefit from it. What can be
surmised from the public record is that from 1998 to September 10,
2001, the War on Drugs kept bumping into the nascent War on Terror
and new directions in US foreign policy.

It’s easy to imagine the thousands of drug couriers, middlemen,
financiers and lab technicians moving back and forth between Pakistan
and Turkey, and over to Western Europe and the United States, and the
tidbits of information they gleaned from their sponsors as they
traveled. As information gathering assets for the intelligence
agencies of the world, they must have been invaluable. And given the
dozens of foreign intelligence services working the in the
counter-narcotics/terrorism fields, the `chatter’ that just dozens of
well-placed operatives may have overheard about attacks against
Western targets must have found its way into the US intelligence
apparatus. But, again, who could believe the audacity of non-state
actors organizing a domestic attack against the supreme power of the
day, the USA? Implementing a new strategic direction and business
deals may have overcome the wacky warnings from the counter-narcotics

Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000, who would have believed the
rants of a drug courier from Afghanistan saying that some guy named
Bin Laden was going to attack America, particularly if it involved
America’s newest friend, Turkey? Or that a grand design to reshape
Central Asia and the Middle East with Turkey and Israel as pivot
points was being pushed by the Clinton Administration as a matter of
national policy.

The historical record shows that the US War on Drugs and the nascent
War on Terror kept colliding with not only within the US
intelligence, policy and business apparatus, but also with European
strategic and business interests. Turkey continues its push for entry
into the European Union and the USA wants that to happen as the June
2004 meeting of NATO, and President Bush’s attendance under dangerous
circumstances, in Turkey demonstrates. Turkey is one of the USA’s and
Europe’s top arms buyers and is located near what could be some of
the biggest oil and natural gas fields in the world. At this point
it’s worth noting that the one of the FBI’s tasks is to counter
industrial espionage and to engage in it. Where big arms sales pit
the US against its European competitors–as is the case in Turkey
(particularly starting in 1998)–the FBI is busy making sure the US
gets the edge over its competition. Allies are friends only so far.

Did warnings foretelling of an attack on American soil by Bin Laden’s
crew get lost in the War on Drugs or the US national and economic
interest in troublesome Turkey? It seems only Ms Edmonds knows.

Turkey Cold to UK and USA Concerns

In 1998, the US Department of State (DOS) was finally forced to admit
that Turkey was a major refining and transit point for the flow of
heroin from Southwest Asia to Western Europe, with small quantities
of the stuff finding its way to the streets of the USA. In that same
year, Kendal Nezan, writing for Le Monde Diplomatique, reported that
MIT, and the Turkish National Police force were actively supporting
the trade in illicit drugs not only for fun and profit, but out of

`After the Gulf War in 1991, Turkey found itself deprived of the
all-important Iraqi market and, since it lacked significant oil
reserves of its own, it decided to make up for the loss by turning
more massively to drugs. The trafficking increased in intensity with
the arrival of the hawks in power, after the death in suspicious
circumstances of President Turgut Özal in April 1993. According to
the minister of interior, the war in Kurdistan had cost the Turkish
exchequer upwards of $12.5 billion. According to the daily Hürriyet,
Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5
billion in 1996…Only criminal networks working in close cooperation
with the police and the army could possibly organize trafficking on
such a scale. Drug barons have stated publicly, on Turkish television
and in the West, that they have been working under the protection of
the Turkish government and to its financial benefit. The traffickers
themselves travel on diplomatic passports…the drugs are even
transported by military helicopter from the Iranian border.’

Nowhere is the pain of Turkey’s role in the heroin trade felt more
horribly than in the United Kingdom. According to London’s Letter
written by a Member of Parliament, `The war against drugs and drug
trafficking in Britain is huge. Turkish heroin in particular is a top
priority for the MI6 and the Foreign Ministry. During his visit to
the British Embassy in Ankara, the head of the Foreign Office’s
Turkey Department was clear about this. He reassured an English
journalist that the heroin trade was more important than billions of
pounds worth off trade capacity and weapons selling. When the
journalist in question told me about this, I was reminded of my
teacher’s words at university in Ankara ten years ago. He was also
working for the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The topic of a lecture
discussion was about Turkey’s Economy and I still remember his words

`50 billion dollars worth of foreign debt is nothing, it is two lorry
loads of heroin…’

Afghanistan: Top Opiate Producer and America’s Friend

Both the DOS and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) described in
detail the transit routes and countries involved in getting the goods
to Turkey. Intelligence organizations here and abroad must have
sanctioned the role that they, and Turkey and Afghanistan, played in
the process. `Afghanistan is the original source of most of the
opiates reaching Turkey. Afghan opiates, and also hashish, are
stockpiled at storage and staging areas in Pakistan, from where a ton
or larger quantities are smuggled by overland vehicles to Turkey via
Iran. Multi-ton quantities of opiates and hashish also are moved to
coastal areas of Pakistan and Iran, where the drugs are loaded on
ships waiting off-shore, which then smuggle the contraband to points
in Turkey along the Mediterranean, Aegean, and/or Marmara seas.
Opiates and hashish also are smuggled overland from Afghanistan via
Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to Turkey.

Turkish-based traffickers and brokers operate directly and in
conjunction with narcotic suppliers, smugglers, transporters,
laboratory operators, drug distributors, money collectors, and money
launderers in and outside Turkey. Traffickers in Turkey illegally
acquire the precursor chemical acetic anhydride, which is used in the
production of heroin, from sources in Western Europe, the Balkans,
and Russia. During the 27-month period from July 1, 1999 to September
30, 2001, over 56 metric tons of illicit acetic anhydride were seized
in or destined for Turkey.’

The Ankara Pact

The Middle East Report concluded in 1998 that probably the greatest
strategic move in the Clinton post-Cold War years is what could be
called “The Ankara Pact” — an alliance between the U.S., Turkey, and
Israel that essentially circumvents and bottles up the Arab
countries. Earlier in 1997, Turkish Prime Minister Yilmaz visited
with Bill Clinton to ensure him that Turkey would attempt to improve
its human rights record by slaughtering less Kurds, but also
mentioned that if the US pushed too hard on that subject or if the US
Congress adopted an Armenian Genocide Resolution, Turkey might award
a billion dollar contract for attack helicopters to a Europe or maybe
even Russia.

During this timeframe, and with approval from the USA, Turkey began
to let contracts to Israel to upgrade its F-4, F-5 and F-16 aircraft.
Pemra Hazbay, writing in the May 2004 issue of Peace Watch, reported
that total Israeli arms sales to Turkey had exceeded $1 billion since
2000. `In December 1996, Israel won a deal worth $630 million to
upgrade Turkey’s fleet of fifty-four F-4 Phantom fighter jets. In
1998, Turkey awarded a $75 million contract to upgrade its fleet of
48 F-5 fighter jets to Israel Aircraft Industries’ Lahav division,
beating out strong French competition. In 2002, Turkey ratified its
largest military deal with Israel, a $700 million contract for the
renovation of Turkish tanks.’ But that pales in comparison to the $20
billion in US arms exports and military aid dealt to Turkey over the
last 24 years.

Then in 1999 came a news item from a publication known as the Foreign
Report based in the United Kingdom. That publication indicated that
`Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, had expanded its base in Turkey
and opened branches in Turkey for other two departments stationed in
Tel Aviv. The Mossad carried out several spy operations and plans
through its elements stationed in Istanbul and Ankara, where it
received support and full cooperation from the Turkish government.
According to the military cooperation agreement between the Mossad
and its Turkish counterpart, the MIT, signed by former Turkish
Foreign Minister Hekmet Citen during his visit to Israel in 1993, the
Mossad had provided Turkey with plans aiding it in closing its border
with Iraq, as well as being involved in the arrest the chairman of
the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan.’ That agreement also included help with

Earlier in 1998, Israeli, Turkish and American military forces
engaged in exercises in the Mediterranean, according to Reuters and
Agencie France Press. “[These exercises] signal to the radical
states in the region that there is a strong alliance between Israel,
Turkey and the United States which they must fear, Israeli political
scientist Efraim Inbar said. Defense officials said during last
month’s visit to Ankara that they hoped the Jewish lobby in
Washington would help Turkey offset Greek and Armenian influence on
Capitol Hill. That’s certainly part of this. They expect us to help
them and we do help them a bit, said David Ivri, an adviser who
directs biannual strategy talks with Turkey.’ Reports also indicated
that the CIA and Pentagon intelligence organizations had regularly
chaired meetings of Turkish and Israeli officers in Tel Aviv for


Prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan, the DEA monitored the
Afghanistan drug trade from its two offices in Pakistan: The
Islamabad Country Office and the Peshawar Resident Office. In
addition to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the DEA Islamabad Country
Office also includes in its area of responsibility Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, and
Oman. Asa Hutchinson, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement
Administration, testified in October 2001 that DEA intelligence
confirmed the presence of a linkage between Afghanistan’s ruling
Taliban and international terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

He went on to say that although DEA had no direct evidence to confirm
that Bin Laden is involved in the drug trade, the relationship
between the Taliban and Bin Laden is believed to have flourished in
large part due to the Taliban’s substantial reliance on the opium
trade as a source of organizational revenue. `While the activities of
the two entities do not always follow the same trajectory, we know
that drugs and terror frequently share the common ground of
geography, money, and violence. In this respect, the very sanctuary
enjoyed by Bin Laden is based on the existence of the Taliban’s
support for the drug trade. This connection defines the deadly,
symbiotic relationship between the illicit drug trade and
international terrorism.’

Meanwhile, back at the FBI, the Office of International Operations
oversees the Legal Attaché Program operating at 46 locations around
the world. The operation maintains contact with Interpol, other US
federal agencies such as the CIA and military agencies such as the
Defense Intelligence Agency, and foreign police and security
officers. Its job is to investigate or counter threats from foreign
intelligence, terrorists and criminal enterprises that threaten the
national or economic security of the USA. It coordinates its
activities with all US and foreign intelligence operations. In 2000,
it opened offices in Ankara, Turkey and Almaty, Kazhakstan. Since
1996, it has had offices in Islamabad, Pakistan and Tele Aviv,
Israel. In 1997 it opened one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Combined,
these offices monitor the entire Middle East, Persian Gulf and
Central Asian threat areas developing thousands of `investigative

Ms Edmonds has given the American people leads that show that they
are easily sacrificed for a perceived greater good.

John Stanton is a Virginia-based writer specializing in national
security and political matters. He is author of the forthcoming book,
America 2004: A Power, But Not Super. He can be reached at:
[email protected].