U.S. looking to carry out assassinations in Turkey - ex-military intel chief

The Turkish government has proof that the United States is preparing assassination plans against opinion leaders in Turkey, the former head of Turkey's General Staff Intelligence Agency, the military's intelligence arm, said.

İsmail Hakkı Pekin, an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made the remarks during a discussion programme on Turkey’s Ulusal TV last week.

The government has “intelligence reports’’ on the alleged attacks, Pekin said, and was “taking the necessary precautions.’’

“There are nerve endings of society in Turkey,’’ Pekin said when asked who was on the list of the alleged plots. “There are opinion leaders.  “And if you carry out an assassination against those leaders, then (Turkish) society will necessarily react to the state.’’

Ankara-Washington relations have been particularly strained since theJuly 2016 coup attempt, which Turkey blames on a U.S..-based Turkish cleric, whose extradition requests from Ankara have been denied by the United States.

The 2018 conviction of a senior executive of Halkbank, on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iranhas exacerbated tensions, with Erdoğan labelling the case a “political coup attempt” and a joint effort by the CIA and FBI to undermine Ankara.

“Those who could not succeed in the (military) coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, (2016) are now searching for a different attempt in our country,” Erdoğan said after the Halkbank CEO’s conviction.