Ankara, Jan 7 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated the new high-tech headquarters of the country’s intelligence agency which has seen its assets and powers grow amid international operations.
Dubbed the ‘Castle’ by state officials, the new 500-hectare massive compound located in Ankara’s Etimesgut district will house all services of the secretive National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Xinhua news agency.
The single complex is surrounded by a three-metre-high concrete wall and barbed wire fences, and designed to withstand unauthorized access and infiltration.
During the inauguration of the complex, Erdogan on Monday said that his government intended to “continue to grow (MIT’s) international role while decreasing its domestic operations”.
“In an era when the Internet is effectively used by terrorists and spies, it is inevitable for Turkish intelligence to focus more on cyberspace,” he noted in a speech.
The Turkish leader said his country aims to conduct more covert operations abroad and have a better technical and cyber intelligence infrastructure.
As the MIT’s institutional power grew with the new presidential board, its budget surged from $410 million in 2010 to almost $2 billion in 2017.
The organization’s asset value is higher than most of country’s ministries, according to reports.
The intelligence service came under fire in the aftermath of the 2016 coup and its credibility was tarnished.
The powerful spy network was reshaped with more civilian personnel than army officers to coordinate with different state entities in post-coup period and young bureaucrats were appointed to key positions.
The MIT has also taken an active role in the Syrian conflict unfolding at Turkey’s southern borders by organizing rebel forces against the Syrian government.
Turkish agents are also reportedly active in Iraq where armed rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have base camps.
PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
MIT agents were also deployed in Tripoli, Libya.