News / Europe

Turkey Deports Jihadists Linked to Syria Fighting

FILE - An Islamist protester shouts slogans from behind a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in front of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.FILE - An Islamist protester shouts slogans from behind a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in front of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.
x
FILE - An Islamist protester shouts slogans from behind a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in front of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.
FILE - An Islamist protester shouts slogans from behind a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in front of Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.
Dorian Jones
Turkey has been deporting European nationals linked to radical Islamist groups fighting in neighboring Syria. Ankara faces growing pressure from its Western allies to crack down on jihadists.

A Turkish media report, citing a ministerial source, said more than 1,000 European jihadists linked to groups fighting the Syrian government have been deported this year.

A Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he could not confirm the number, but he did say Turkish security forces were cooperating with their international counterparts.

Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf and Al Monitor website, said this marks a shift in Turkish policy. Ankara has been accused of turning a blind eye to radical Islamists fighting to topple Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.  

But Idiz said there is now growing concern in Ankara over the threat posed by jihadists.

"Turkey is a hub country. It faces the Caucasus. It faces the Balkans where there are also jihadi elements. Think of Dagestan. Think of Chechnya for example, and the same you have Islamic communities in Europe you know. So yes it’s a conduit in this respect, but I don’t think it’s a willing conduit at the moment and I think it’s trying to control the situation," said Idiz.

Analysts say Ankara has been under mounting diplomatic pressure from its Western allies, in particular Washington, over radical Islamist groups using Turkey as a base to fight in Syria.

President Barack Obama reportedly raised the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Washington in May.

But diplomatic columnist Idiz says Europe, too, has been turning up the diplomatic heat on Ankara.

"I think it has been under considerable pressure. From what we know from official statements in Europe they are afraid these citizens, in France especially, Britain, Germany - these countries are very wary about this issue, that these citizens will become even more radicalized and carry back their Jihad back to their home countries," said idiz. "These people fighting are not fighting for a cause, they are fighting for Jihad and Jihad is a universal thing. Today Damascus, tomorrow Frankfurt - it's all the same."

The issue has been a point of tension between Ankara and Europe according to Soli Ozel, a lecturer in International Relations at Kadir Has University. He said Ankara feels its European counterparts have not been helping in addressing the threat.

"The Turkish government complains that the governments in other countries know exactly who is flying to Turkey and who they are, and it also claims that the countries with citizens coming here are not giving proper information to the Turkish government," said Ozel.

But observers say in the past few months a new atmosphere of cooperation has emerged between European countries and Ankara - a result of renewed progress in Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

On Wednesday, Ankara signed a much-delayed agreement with Brussels on refugees and illegal migrants.

Analyst Ozel said there are inherent risks for Turkey, however, from any crackdown on jihadist groups. "The precedence is from other countries that there might be a security risk. Jihadists have a habit of turning on those who have fed them if they don’t get what they’ve been accustomed to. But hopefully the Turkish security forces know exactly what they can get these guys."

Analysts say Turkish security forces have a good record of tracking down al-Qaida groups. Following a series of bombings in 2003 in Istanbul, an al-Qaida cell was quickly identified.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More