Nahla Abdul Moneim
In the midst of the influx of immigrants who fled the havoc of recent conflicts following the Arab Spring revolutions, Turkey has employed terrorist elements to sneak to Europe via Greece’s maritime border.
After complaints filed by the victims of Daesh and Al-Qaeda against elements that joined them in their escape, the Greek authorities have accidentally discovered that Turkey has smuggled terrorists from Syria into refugee ships.
Foreign newspapers, including “Voltaire” website, reported that Greek police discovered at least 120 extremists among the new immigrants, most of whom are located in the Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, a Greek island in northern Aegean Sea. Although the terrorists were not on the European Union’s list of terrorism, they were discovered after the refugees filed a complaint. The investigation, then, revealed that they were smuggled by Turkey.
Security reports attributed this to the agreement reached on September 17, 2018 between Russia and Turkey in Sochi, after which the Turkish authorities smuggled more than 1,000 fighters belonging to al-Qaeda and “Daesh” outside Idlib in the north of Syria. Greece has been chosen as the most important point of deportation.
Turkey has used the security weakness of Greece’s maritime border. This weakness took place because of Greece’s conflict with Turkey over the ownership of the islands that mediate their territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, according to a study entitled “Greece – The Gate of Jihad”, which was issued by one of the Western counterterrorism centers.
Turkey has made its regional neighbor (Greece) an important focal point through which terrorists can return to the European countries or escaping from them. The big economic crisis in Greece has contributed to weakening the ability of the state to secure its borders and imposing counterterrorism strategies.
As a direct result of the loose security and being close to a country which considered the primary responsible for smuggling terrorist elements, Greece has become an important transit corridor for extremists who hide in refugee ships.
On 3 October 2015, a Turkish ship settled on the Greek island of Leros. It was containing about 200 refugees, including two Daesh elements carrying Syrian passports with fake names. They were later confirmed to have carried out the suicide bombing of a French playground in a series of bloody events that hit Paris in November 2015, according to the study.
In addition, the island itself received a number of elements who were later involved in terrorist operations in Europe, including the Swedish Daesh member Osama Karim, who is the second suspect in the bombing of the metro station “Malbec” in the Belgian capital «Brussels» that took place on March 22, 2016.
The same island also received Abdul Hamid Abaoud, who was involved in plotting the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, which claimed the lives of 137 people.
In 2017, Greece received about 29,716 people who had traveled from Turkey by sea, while in 2016 it received about 173,450 refugees through the same Turkish ships. In January 2018, the Greek authorities announced that they had seized a ship full of arms and explosives and was on its way from Turkey to Libya.
The researcher on the Turkish issue, Karam Saeed, believes that the Turkish clashes on the borders of Greece are more closely related to the ambitions of the Ottoman region, which strives to destabilize its neighbor, in addition to its greed to the oil and gas fields in the disputed islands between them.
The researcher told el-Marje’, that the famous relations of Turkey with terrorist groups have changed significantly now, the country itself suffers from refugees; therefore it is seeking to complete the Sochi agreement. It also wants the foundations of the agreement to succeed to calm the situation inside Syria.