On Oct. 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s spy agency Milli Istihbarat Teskilati, or MIT, has been the “driving force behind [Turkey’s] efforts to supply the rebels and topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” Consequently, Fidan “has tilted the interests of the longtime U.S. ally in ways sometimes counter to those of the U.S,” the report stated.
According to the WSJ article, Fidan, who was once lauded by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan as “my secret-keeper,” had in 2010 provided Iran with “sensitive intelligence” collected by the US and Israel. “U.S. officials believe the MIT under Mr. Fidan passed several pieces of intelligence to Iran, including classified U.S. assessments about the Iranian government,” the article said.
Concerns over Fidan are not new.
In June 2010, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israel’s defense establishment, and the Mossad in particular, was concerned about Fidan’s appointment and “the implications of that appointment vis-a-vis Turkish relations with Israel and Iran.” The following month, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak denounced Fidan, calling him a “friend of Iran.” In addition, Barak warned that secrets shared with Turkey “could become open to Iran over the next several months” because of Fidan.
While it is likely that Barak foresaw the actions described by the WSJ, it is hard to believe that he foresaw what occurred in early 2012. According to an Oct. 16 Washington Post column, in early 2012 Turkey “disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today said the allegations were “without any foundation,” Agence France Presse reported. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki meanwhile repeatedly stonewalled reporters who asked whether the State Department had any comment.
While Israeli officials have not officially commented on the recent reports, one unidentified official told Channel 10 that Fidan is an anti-Semite and an Islamist “who hangs out with our worst enemies.” And in comments during a conference call organized by The Israel Project, former Mossad head Danny Yatom (1996-1998) said that assuming the Washington Post report is true, then what Fidan and the MIT did was a “despicable act.”
“I don’t remember, during the many, many years that I served in the Israeli intelligence apparatuses [and] as a very close advisor to three prime ministers and many, many years in the Israel Defense Forces … I don’t recall such a phenomenon where information was used by so-called friendly intelligence apparatuses [in such a manner],” Yatom said.
If true, “this is an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume nobody will any longer trust it,” Yatom further stated. “They breached all the rules of cooperation between intelligence organizations,” he declared.