Report exposes relations between Turkey and the Islamic State

The Rojava Center for Strategic Studies (NRLS) published a detailed report on the foreign relations of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization and the Turkish state.

The report showed with concrete evidences how the Erdogan regime played a central role also in ISIS  increased financial and military strength.

These relations have a negative impact on stability and development in the Middle East, said the NRLS, causing "the loss of security and stability in Syria, the displacement of millions, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, massive destruction of infrastructure, and the loss of Syrian national identity." 

The documentation of the relations between the Turkish state and the Islamic State relies on the testimonies of a number of IS elements and their families, interviews with prisoners, and the observations and research conducted by NRLS in the archives of military forces, security forces and news agencies operating in North and East Syria.

The documents that have been collected, said the report, "indicate the issues that determine the relationship between Turkey and IS."

The report exposed the reality of the security, military, economic and political relations between them. The most prominent feature, said the report, "is that the Turkish authorities allowed foreign fighters and their families to travel back and forth across the border with Syria, and also turned a blind eye to IS activities in Turkey while hardening repression on the political forces advocating democracy and human rights. They also provided military and security support to IS indirectly, and made security, financial, and business agreements with ISIS."

The report analyse above all three types of relations between Turkey and the Islamic State: security relations, military relations and financial and commercial relations.

Security Relations between Turkey and ISIS

The report states: "The documents in our possession contain a number of secret agreements, such as the facilitation of the passage of foreign jihadists and their families across the Turkish border into the areas controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the treatment of ISIS wounded in Turkish hospitals, overlooking ISIS activities in Turkey, attacking the Self-Administration in Rojava - North and East Syria, and carrying out massacres against the Kurds.

In exchange for these agreements, ISIS committed to handing over Turkish nationals to the Turkish authorities, not considering Turkey an enemy to ISIS, a monopoly of the oil trade and stolen antiquities, and most importantly, supporting the Turkish state policy aimed at preventing the establishment of any democratic entity which would the Kurds their rights, and carrying out military operations against them."

The report then lists a number of testimonies that confirm the links and relations.

Military relations

As to military relations perhaps one of the most interesting testimonies is that of Yaseen Akumi, known as Abu al-Battar al-Jabali, a prominent ISIS commander. 

The report describes him like this: "Yaseen Akumi, known as Abu al-Battar al-Jabali, is a Moroccan born in 1989. He was the commander of the Saifullah al-Maslool Battalion, which included around 100 members of various nationalities. He joined ISIS in June 2013 and participated in the second massacre of civilians in Kobane in 2015, led by the commander of Kobane campaign Abu al-Battar al-Misri. He was aided by two commanders, a Chechen and Bosnian, at the command center in the city of Raqqa. He was captured by the YPG after the death of most of his group. He was described by the anti-terror units affiliated to SDF as a dangerous extremist and a suicide bomber."

The report quotes Akumi as confirming that "he had travelled from Casablanca airport in Morocco to Istanbul airport as a tourist, and was not subjected to any questioning or security procedures either at the airport or in the hotel. During his transport from Istanbul airport to the city of Antakya, there was no interference from Turkish border guards as he crossed the border through Mount Turkmen to Latakia via a Turkish smuggler whose Arabic language was weak."

Akumi also confirmed that "the main objective in taking control of the city of Kobane in June 2015 was to control the border gate between Kobane and Turkey, and stressed that the commander of the operation, Abu Hafsa, assured them that there would be no direct interference from Turkish authorities if ISIS controlled the border gate."

He also confirmed that "ISIS wounded members received the necessary medical care in Turkish hospitals, and that Turkish authorities were aware of this.

Furthermore Akumi confirmed that "ISIS used the money obtained from oil trade in the purchase of weapons; that Turkey is ready to agree with any faction, on the condition that they fight against Kurds; that Turkey employs jihadists to serve its policies. He stressed that Turkey cares about the Turkmen, Chinese, Kazakhs and others, and does not give importance to the Arab jihadists, but rather seeks to kill them in Syria by using them to fight their enemies and protect their interests."

Finally, Akumi underlined that "the sex-slave trade targeted only Kurdish Yezidi women, and no woman was taken as a captive from any other minority group. He said this was systematic against Yezidis. (This is consistent with the processes of demographic change and ethnic cleansing practiced by Turkey in the region of Afrin against the Kurdish people there, in particular the Yezidis.)"

Commercial and financial relations 

The report said: "The obtainment of financial and logistic resources for ISIS is no less important than ISIS’s military activity. Through these resources, ISIS procured different weapons and financed their terrorist operations around world.

An organization without money cannot make travel arrangements for its members or buy necessary equipment like weapons, cars, and communication devices. In addition, it must propagandize and publishing its philosophy and ideology on paper and electronically, and finance its military operations. Giving any financial aid to ISIS is just as dangerous as giving direct military support.

Most of ISIS’s trade was done with Turkish individuals and companies, and it would never have happened if the Turkish authorities had not nipped this type of activity in the bud. Until now, Turkey applies martial law and anti-terrorism laws. Because of this, any type of activity cannot be done without the advance knowledge of Turkish intelligence – especially in the buying of electronic devices, weapons, oil, etc."