Terror financing through property of displaced Christians in Idlib

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples, jihadist militias in northwestern Syria's Idlib are financing themselves by renting out the homes of displaced people of the Christian faith.

According to the Germany-based Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, GfbV), jihadist militias controlled by Turkey in the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib are largely financed by the property of Christians who have fled or been displaced. For example, houses belonging to the Christian minority in the province have been taken over by Islamists and are now rented out to Syrian families at high prices, said GfbV Middle East consultant Kamal Sido in Göttingen on Monday. According to Sido, the money flows to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Haiat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).

The Islamists of HTS are supported, financed and partly controlled by Turkey as well as Qatar. The GfbV therefore calls on the German government to use its relations with both states to work towards the protection of the Christian minority and its property. In addition, it demands that displaced or fled Christian families be enabled to return to their villages.

In 2011, at the beginning of the "Arab Spring," Idlib province had a population of around 1.85 million people, made up mainly of members of the Sunni Arab community and smaller minorities. Christians, Shiites, Druze and other minorities fled Idlib almost entirely. The region has been the scene of heavy fighting due to its strategic location. As a result, the Syrian air force attacked not only Islamist positions but also peaceful localities - including with barrel bombs.

"While NATO member Turkey opened its border to weapons, money and Islamist fighters from all over the world, the Gulf emirate Qatar took over the financing and media support of the Islamists," criticizes the GfbV. Again and again, the Qatari TV station Al Jazeera accompanied the campaigns of conquest of HTS as well as the terrorist organization "Islamic State" (IS). "Not infrequently, leaders of the Islamists were interviewed extensively and without criticism. Qatar also supports other Islamist groups such as the Taliban and Hamas," the Göttingen-based organization said.

Sido: Silence means accepting genocides

"Whoever remains silent on human rights violations today accepts genocides in the future," warns Kamal Sido. Therefore, he says, "it is dangerous when the German ex-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel comes to the defense of the regimes in Turkey and Qatar and remains silent on human rights violations and war crimes." In a recent tweet, Gabriel claimed that Qatar was hosting the Taliban and Hamas "at the request" of the United States. Earlier, he advised Germany to "dare more Turkey."