In this part of our series on links between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and terrorism and terror leaders, we will focus on how Erdogan has forced his country’s institutions to work in the service of terrorist organizations. The Turkish intelligence is at the forefront of these institutions.
Erdogan has forced the Turkish intelligence agency to work in the service of terror leaders.
In 2011, the Turkish intelligence established an office in Syria. This coincided with the eruption of violence and fighting in the Arab country.
Erdogan summoned all former intelligence officers as well as the officers who were sacked from the agency in previous years and asked them to offer training to jihadist groups and arm them.
These groups included some that were affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and others to al-Qaeda.
One of the officers ordered to carry out this mission was indicted by a military court and sentenced to six years in prison for his cooperation with mafia leaders. The case of the officer was widely known as the “Sauna Gangs”. The same officer was referred to a criminal court. However, he was cleared from the same charges on November 14, 2016, after interference from Erdogan’s government.
Turkish customs officials turned a blind eye to the entry of ISIS members into Syria and Iraq from Turkey.
One of the ISIS members arrested said the Turkish intelligence knew everything about his entry into Syria.
In 2015, security forces seized a highly explosive material on the road to ISIS members. The main suspects in the delivery this material to ISIS were affiliated to the Turkish police and army.
The Turkish intelligence also used a company owned by a wealthy Turkish family to transfer supplies to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This proved that Turkey was the main supplier of arms to the terrorist group. It sent these supplies to these groups through non-governmental organizations that cloak them as humanitarian assistance.
A retired special operations officer testified that Turkish authorities had removed all police checkpoints on the road to the Iraqi and Syrian borders in order to facilitate the transfer of terrorists to these borders.
Turkey also allowed ISIS to operate freely in the border area with Syria.