Turkish police stepped up its operations in Istanbul, Ankara and other provinces, arresting a number of alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, or ISIL) operatives after the release of a US Treasury report defining Turkey as a logistical hub for the terrorist organization.
The report, dated January 4, on the US Treasury’s programs to combat terrorist financing and activities to disrupt ISIS financing indicated that the terrorist group continues to rely on “logistical hubs” inside Turkey for its finances.
Caving in to Western pressure and fearing possible trouble with the new US administration, the Turkish government has increased its crackdown on ISIS members in earnest, raiding their cells and arresting their members.
On January 27 Turkish police launched a nationwide sweep in 58 provinces against the jihadist group, netting 126 suspects, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. In the same month Turkish police detained 32 suspected members of ISIS in separate raids in Ankara, Istanbul and Adana.
Turkish police detained a suspected assassin affiliated with ISIS and 13 other people in an operation in northwestern Yalova province, Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT reported on Monday. According to the report, the assassin, identified only by the initials A.Y., was also in charge of smuggling ISIS members to Europe.
The US Treasury report:US Treasury report
“ISIS continued to use money services businesses, including hawalas, to move funds in and out of Iraq and Syria, often relying on logistical hubs in Turkey and in other financial centers,” the US Treasury report said.
According to the report, ISIS continued to raise funds through extortion of oil smuggling networks in eastern Syria, kidnapping for ransom, looting and possibly the operation of front companies. “ISIS also continued to use networks of couriers to smuggle cash between Iraq and Syria,” the Treasury said. The report stressed that ISIS probably has as much as $100 million available in cash reserves dispersed across the region.
In addition to financial links, Ankara is accused by the international community and relevant UN bodies of being an important transit hub for foreign terrorists and jihadists and a safe haven for ISIS-affiliated groups across the region.
In July the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted its 26th report to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The report (paragraph 62) underlined that terrorist groups operating under the umbrella of the Taliban and aligning with ISIL-K in Afghanistan are planning to reach Turkey to join the local pro-ISIL Central Asian diaspora.
The transfer and deployment of Syrian fighters to Libya through Turkey was recorded by the UN report. “Several Member States also expressed concerns over an estimated 7,000 to 15,000 fighters brought in from the north-west Syrian Arab Republic to Tripoli, via Turkey, to take part in the Libyan conflict,” the 30th paragraph of the UN report said.
The UN monitoring team is set up to support the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee in accordance with UNSC resolutions 1526 (2004) and 2253 (2015). UNSC resolution 2368 (2017) imposes targeted sanctions on individuals, groups, undertakings and entities designated on the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List. In accordance with paragraph 55 of the resolution, the sanction committee makes accessible a narrative summary of reasons for listing.
Following the eruption of the Syrian crisis, the international community accused Turkey of indirectly facilitating the flow of arms and foreign fighters to ISIS by pursuing an open-border policy and of supporting groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in Syria. Due to its geographic location, İstanbul has served as a transit point for ISIS to send fighters from different parts of the world into Syria or from the Middle East into Europe. However, the Turkish security agencies have failed to take any action against the flow of jihadist terrorists and their activities, which were centered mainly in İstanbul and border provinces including Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, despite pressure from the international community.
Instead, Ankara pursued a policy of nonintervention that allowed foreign fighters traversing its territory to join ISIS and other radical groups in Syria. This policy has resulted in the passage of tens of thousands of foreign fighters through Turkey and has allowed several radical groups to carry out their logistics and operations within Turkey’s borders. Turkish support for ISIS has played a critical role in its operations.