August 13, 2015

AKP’s silence on ISIL

As the new Republican People's Party (CHP) report on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has shown again, Turkey is known for harboring ISIL terrorists. While we do not have evidence of the Turkish state's direct support for the terrorists, it is obvious that for a variety of reasons, these terrorists can operate freely in the country.

A few weeks ago, under international pressure, Turkish security forces conducted some operations against suspected ISIL terrorists but almost all of them have been released since the state does not have any evidence against these suspects. That does not necessarily mean that these guys are not guilty but that the state has been preoccupied with many other things and has been failing to monitor the activities of these suspects.

As is known, the regime led by then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided a few years ago to lower the degree of threat coming from al-Qaeda to the lowest level. Instead, it inked in the Hizmet movement -- also known as the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen -- to the so-called Red Book as the most dangerous threat facing the country. Since then, all security and intelligence forces in the country have been asked to monitor the activities of the suspected “Hizmet criminals!” The police produced a document and invented a new terrorist organization called the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETO). The pro-Erdoğan media persists in using this acronym every day to brainwash the public into believing that such a terrorist organization really exists. In Turkish law, until the Court of Cassation delivers a verdict (based, of course, on concrete evidence) that such a terrorist organization exists, it us unlawful to label civil society groups as terrorists.

In the case of the Hizmet movement, despite the fact that the state has not found so much as a weapon or detected a single act of violence in any institution inspired by Hizmet, no one with links to the movement has ever condoned violence. On the contrary, its motto is, “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist and a terrorist can not be a Muslim.” Despite all this, the state has spent a tremendous amount of energy on the Hizmet movement. Mainly President Erdogan, but also Interim Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other AKP figures, consistently talk about the terrorist and other illegal activities of Hizmet, but they seldom speak out against the real and potential threats of al-Qaeda and ISIL. Whenever their focus is not on al-Qaeda or ISIL, their bureaucrats spend almost no time on these organizations.

Yet, both ISIL and al-Qaeda have been freely operating in different Turkish cities. Wounded ISIL terrorists receive medical help in Turkish hospitals. It has been reported that ambulances secretly carry ISIL terrorists from Turkey to Syria. In every poor conservative neighborhood, young people have been recruited to ISIL. The CHP report has focused on the Kurdish city of Adiyaman to highlight this fact. But also, many people have gone to Syria to fight with ISIL from many neighborhoods of İstanbul. Some of these youngsters leave with a contract and return after “working” six months for ISIL. They freely talk in their neighborhoods about their adventures in Syria, how much they have been paid and what they have done.

Journalists and opposition politicians can easily reach these youngsters and talk to them. It seems it is only the Turkish intelligence organization and security forces that fail to detect them!

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 August 2015, Wendesday