A Turkish asset working for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force reported to his handler in Turkey that head of Turkish intelligence agency MIT (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı) Hakan Fidan was a trusted man who shared the mullahs’ revolutionary vision and harbored anti-US and anti-Israel sentiments.
According to confidential documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, Turkish police who were investigating Quds Force cells in Turkey as part of a counterterrorism probe discovered a collection of resumés handed over to Naser Ghafari, a Quds Force representative in Turkey. Among the CVs was a profile report on Fidan, then deputy undersecretary of MIT. Fidan was appointed MIT chief in May 2010.
“He [Fidan] wants to wipe the United States and Israel from the face of the earth, he loves the [Iranian] revolution, he wants it to succeed, he believes the [Iranian] revolution is under the control of Shiite Muslims with universal views and he loves it for it,” the profile note said of Fidan in a document handed over to the Quds Force.
The profile note underlined that Fidan had been known to Quds Force operatives for 15 years, suggesting that Fidan was enlisted as an asset some time in 1994, when he was a noncommissioned officer in the Turkish army. In the referral section, which listed friends of Fidan, a convicted militant as well as anti-Israel Turks were listed as people who would vouch for the head of Turkish intelligence. Among Fidan’s referrals was Duran Özdemir, who was indicted, tried and convicted on charges relating to Iran’s covert operations in Turkey in the 1990s.
The CV was prepared by Hüseyin Avni Yazıcıoğlu, a Turkish asset and convicted militant who had served time in prison for illegal activities on behalf of Iran. In 2010 Yazıcıoğlu’s wife Kamile blew the whistle on her husband and started secretly cooperating with the investigators. She handed over dozens of documents to the police that were later incorporated as criminal evidence in the case file against Quds Force cells in Turkey.
One piece of evidence provided by Kamile on October 27, 2011 was a Kingston brand 2GB flash drive belonging to her husband. The flash drive contained dozens of CVs including Fidan’s. The 226-page report on the police lab examination of the drive found from recovered files that the CV prepared for Fidan was printed on November 24, 2009. The police surveillance of Yazıcıoğlu on December 30, 2009 while he was secretly meeting with his Iranian handler Ghafari indicated that the documents were handed over to the Quds Force.
Police chief Ensar Doğan, who worked on the Quds Force investigation, testified at a hearing on February 8, 2018 that the evidence they collected clearly indicated that Ghafari asked his asset to work on profiles of Turks who would be helpful in promoting their operations in Turkey. “He [Yazıcıoğlu] was asked to work on some matters, and he collects information about them and takes them to this Iranian. Naturally he takes the information in hard copy when he goes to the meetings,” Doğan said.
Another intercepted document, handwritten by Yazıcıoğlu in code, was later decoded by the investigators and confirmed that Fidan’s profile was part of the work done by Quds Force operatives.
Doğan also told the court at a February 12, 2018 hearing that the investigation revealed that Fidan and Yazıcıoğlu had known each other for a long time. He presented wiretap evidence that revealed how Fidan was attending religious lectures given privately by Yazıcıoğlu when he was in Ankara. The wiretap, dated February 17, 2012 recorded a conversation between Yazıcıoğlu and Bilgehan Ahmet Arslan, a suspect in the Quds Force probe, during which Arslan asked whether he knew Fidan. “I know him [Fidan], we were in those lectures together, we used to hang out in Ankara,” said Yazıcıoğlu.
The 2010 Turkish counterterrorism investigation exposed Iranian operatives working as embassy and consulate officers as well as Turkish assets including some government employees who were secretly working with Iranian intelligence. Then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hushed the probe up in January 2014 before the investigating prosecutor had issued warrants for suspects or finalized his indictment. Thwarted by Erdoğan, the case never went to court for trial.
Iranian agents fled to Iran when they were alerted about the secret probe. All the suspects including Yazıcıoğlu were cleared, and the overwhelming evidence collected during the three-year-long investigation was suppressed by the government. Some were promoted to key positions in the government, while others continue to run clandestine schemes on behalf of Iran’s Quds Force.
In the meantime, investigators including police chief Doğan were dismissed and later jailed on fabricated charges.