Israel helped Turks find Kurd terroristsBy Daniel Sobelman
Ha'aretz Correspondent and AP
Israeli intelligence organizations helped Turkey locate members of the Kurdish-Islamic Hezbollah group who were shot dead in an apartment in Istanbul on Monday. Reports published in Turkey in recent days hinted at the link, which were confirmed by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Wednesday.
Hezbollah is a militant group which aims to form an Islamic state in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast and is not related to the Lebanese militia of the same name. Monday's shootout with authorities killed Huseyin Velioglu, leader of the group's most militant wing.
Ecevit said on Wednesday that Velioglu's hideout was discovered thanks to "cooperation and coordination" with Israeli intelligence services and likened it to the capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. Much emphasis was placed on his statement yesterday by the Arabic and Turkish media, prompting the prime minister's spokesman to state yesterday that even though Turkey does work with Israel in the area of intelligence, the entrapment of the Hezbollah members was the result of local intelligence operations only. He pointed out that at the time, Israel was also linked to the capture of Ocalan.
The popular Turkish paper Milliyet, which is renowned for its close links to the defense establishment, said that the captures were made thanks to cooperation with the Mossad. Yesterday's Turkish Daily News claims that Jordan is an active partner in the strategic alliance between Israel and Turkey.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart on December 9 and it was reported in Turkey that Barak had offered Israeli assistance in operations against the Kurdish Hezbollah. A report on Wednesday claimed that the shootout was the result of months of surveillance and wiretapping.
The bodies of nine Turkish businessmen, kidnapped and executed over the last few months, were discovered on Wednesday outside the organization's "safehouse." Turkey claims that the organization is responsible for the kidnappings and killings of hundreds of civilians, and dozens of businessmen are still missing. The clash took place while Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was on a visit to the country, and he denied that Tehran supports the group.