Turkey, Drugs, Faustian Alliances and Sibel Edmonds

Turkey, Drugs, Faustian Alliances and Sibel Edmonds

By John Stanton,

July 14, 2004.

Convergence of US and foreign counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and
US national security and economic interests prevented the surfacing of
information warning Americans of 9/11.

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 fromit. 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 FBIis 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 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 ofits 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 Ozal 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
HÃ=83¼rriyet, 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 today,

“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 Administration (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 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 Istanbuland 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 counter-narcotics.

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 isa 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 years.


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 enjoyedby 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 Attache 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 leads.”

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.’