News / Middle East

Growing Unease Over Turkish Jihadists in Syria

Rebels from al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra are pictured waving their brigade flag. As many as 500 Turks have been recruited since al-Nusra was formed in January 2012. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network)
Rebels from al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra are pictured waving their brigade flag. As many as 500 Turks have been recruited since al-Nusra was formed in January 2012. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network)
Growing numbers of young Turks are crossing into Syria to join jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime raising fears in Turkey of a future national security risk for Ankara.
  
Last month the U.S. and Turkey agreed to create a $200 million dollar fund to help local organizations develop programs to counter violent extremism among young people in places like Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.   Now some are warning the threat might be closer to home because of a surge in recruitment of young Turks by al-Qaida affiliates.
 
Al-Qaida affiliates in Syria such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra are making headway in persuading Turkish Sunnis to cross the border into Syria for jihad, Turkish officials acknowledge. 
 
Turkish officials said that jihadists have recruited several hundred young Turks from the southeast of the country to fight in the civil war raging next door. And independent analysts estimate that as many as 500 Turks have been recruited since al-Nusra was formed in January 2012. The larger Iraqi affiliate ISIS, which became active in Syria earlier this year, is also actively seeking Turkish recruits.
 
Syrian Kurds say Turkey is responsible
 
Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim said the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist AKP government are partly responsible for the jihadist success, arguing that Ankara has not done enough to combat jihadists using Turkey as a logistical base and has in effect colluded with them by allowing al-Nusra fighters safe passage. Jihadists and Syrian Kurds have been engaged in heavy fighting in recent weeks in competition for control of Syrian territory.  
 
Muslim is a co-chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the PKK, a separatist Kurdish group in Turkey. He alleged that Turkish authorities are willing to turn a blind-eye to the jihadists in Syria while they fight Kurds, arguing that Ankara hasn’t done enough to block Gulf-supplied weapons earmarked for the Western-backed Free Syrian Army from falling into jihadist hands.  He also said International aid agencies are being prevented from sending relief supplies across the border to Kurdish villages in northern Syria. 
 
“Not a single assistance convoy crossed to our side in one month. Our people are living under difficult war conditions. We have acute shortages of electricity, water, fuel and medicines. There is an embargo against us,” he told Turkey’s Taraf newspaper.
 
In recent weeks, as fighting has intensified between jihadists and Kurds in northern Syria, observers said wounded al-Nusra fighters have been transported by Turkish ambulances to hospitals in Urfa.

But Turkey’s Interior Minister Muammer Guler denied there has been any assistance offered to jihadists along the border. According to Guler in an October 4 press release, 129 suspected terrorists have been arrested in the past year. But the interior minister did not offer a breakdown of the allegiances of those detained.
 
In September, Turkish prosecutors indicted six jihadists – five of them Turks – for trying to acquire chemicals with the intent to produce the nerve agent Sarin. The suspects -- all al-Nusra members -- tried to secure two government-regulated military-grade chemical substances, according to the allegations contained in a 132-page federal indictment.
 
Southeast Turkey emerges as a recruitment magnet
 
Turkey’s Radikal newspaper said a lengthy investigation it carried out suggests 200 young Turks have been recruited alone from Adiyaman, a town in the southeast of the country.  A father of twin sons who had been recruited by al-Nusra told the newspaper that the radicalization process had taken about a year and that his sons disappeared on September 2.

After their disappearance, he tracked his sons down to the Syrian city of Aleppo. “I went to Aleppo with a guide and toured six camps in four days. There were young men from Adiyaman, Bitlis and Bingol in the camps. I found both my sons in a camp in Aleppo. When I told the gang leader that I had come to take them back, he replied:  the boys are fighting for jihad here. Are you an infidel, since you are trying to stop them from jihad?”
 
The recruitment process back in Turkey sidetracks local mosques, presumably as a precaution against possible Turkish police surveillance. Likely recruits are encouraged to join small prayer groups where videos are shown of the fighting in Syria. Adiyaman isn’t the only town that is seeing high levels of recruitment.  A Turkish police source –who asked not to be identified – said there is jihadist recruitment activity in Urfa and Diyarbakir. Once persuaded to join up Turkish recruits undergo 45 days of basic military training before joining a fighting unit, he said.
 
Prior to the Syrian civil war, global jihadist groups had only limited success in recruiting in Turkey. In 2007, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad Union launched a Turkish-language website. Several Turks have been arrested in the past in foiled bomb plots in Europe. And there have been a handful of Turkish suicide bombers, the most notable Cüneyt Çiftçi, who attacked a NATO base in Afghanistan in March 2008, killing several Western soldiers.   
 
But now after nearly three years of civil war in Syria and growing numbers of young radicalized Turks joining the fight fears are growing that radicalization will spread, and that one day young Turkish jihadists may bring the war home with devastating consequences.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Selcuk from: Turkey
October 17, 2013 5:41 AM
Turkey must break the Shia barrier which is expanding from Southern Syria to Iran via Sourther Irag in order to associating with orher Sunni countries. If it would be rebuiild new synergy like Ottoman Empire on Muslim countries, have to accompolish it against US, EU, Russia and China. Because holy relics are at us, so we are last Halifah. At first, we have to remove prejudice agains Islam due to terrorists and tell again pure Islam to all people without fighting etc. Islam will be bigger than today thanks to Turkey's behaviors on common publics.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 15, 2013 1:10 PM
Turkey has been through and through terrorist. This is the only reason it sides with extremist views of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood whose sole agenda is islamization of the world, starting with the region. It is for same reason that Turkey fails to come to terms with Israel, the only democracy in the region which it (Turkey) is trying to emulate by joining the EU. But it has to be told that Europe of the 21st century is not for extremism and fanaticism Hiding under the aegis of western sponsorship to seeing Assad removed does not remove from the fact that Turkey perhaps has been dreaming of raising a secret army to act like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhod to be engaged in hit and run (or guerrilla warfare) against certain targets, Israel not missing out on priority.

Seeing it has allowed terrorists use its territory points to the fact that perhaps there exists an alliance already between them. Purported arrest and prosecution of alleged terrorists is a mere smoke screen. It is a reality that one day the jihad will find its way into Turkey, and the target is well known - the minority groups. But it will not stop there, like other places it has had a foothold, it will become a vampire and suck the blood out of Turkey until it becomes attenuated like another desert.


by: Ozlam from: Turkey
October 09, 2013 9:54 AM
Turkish Jihadists are being encouraged by their government to commit atrocities on Syrian civilians. This has been going on for the last 16 months... all carry Turkish - NATO - military weapons and explosives - we have been saying this for the Americans for the last 16 months!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid