This article examines the Ottoman counter-intelligence mechanism and the extent to which it succeeded in preventing enemy intelligence. In the 16th century, the length and the scope of both Ottoman-Habsburg and the Ottoman Safavid Rivalry convinced the Ottomans to establish an intelligence network that gathered information in a large geography. Nevertheless, in the war of information between the Ottomans and their rivals, the success of Ottoman information-gathering was intertwined with the efficiency of Ottoman counter-intelligence. In order to gain an advantage in “politics of information”, the Ottoman secret diplomacy successfully refused its enemies a comfort which it sought for itself: access to information about the adversary.
This paper engages in methods of deception, dissimulation and manipulation that the Ottoman Empire employed in the 16th century. It demonstrates how the Ottomans misled their enemies in realms of diplomacy and warfare by feeding them with tailored information. They did not only successfully hide the target of their military preparations from enemy spies and foreign ambassadors, but also resorted to disinformation in order to manipulate diplomatic negotiations. Moreover, Ottoman commanders employed a number of tricks and ruses in order to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.