Various documents obtained over the years have proven the Turkish Government’s cooperation with ISIS mercenaries to gain advantages, especially economic, both internally and externally. During times of economic and political pressure, the Turkish state, only briefly, arrests members of ISIS and propagandizes these arrests through pro-government media outlets to refute allegations that it is involved in the terrorist organization.
After the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid conducted jointly by the Syrian Democratic Forces and US military in northwest Syria, 5 km from the Turkish occupation border, Turkey’s involvement with the terrorist organization had been exposed.
Earlier in September, Turkey’s Minister of the Interior announced that an ISIS emir, Mahmoud Ozdon, was arrested in the Turkish province of Giresun. The Turkish minister detailed that confiscated items from Ozdon’s house revealed preparations to form a cell made up of 10 to 12 people with the aim of carrying out attacks in Turkey. The Minister explained that hidden compartments were discovered in the house, being used as an arsenal, which would be used to harm the Turkish economy and abduct Turkish politicians.
Immediately, it was revealed by opposition parties that the ISIS emir had been arrested at least six times in the past three years, and that the arrest was not a ground-breaking act against terror, as it was being propagandized. In response to this, the Turkish minister said that they had no tangible evidences to prove the ISIS emir guilty and that the Turkish judiciary was right to release him. He said:
“Legally, [the Turkish judiciary] do their utmost, but when tangible evidences are not available, they can no longer hold prisoners, we define the organizational status of every person, but we must get tangible evidence that is clear, and show relations externally.”
In an article, Sky News quoted a report by a Turkish newspaper, Yuret, which was released in September 2014 and contains a statement by an MP of the opposition Republican People’s Party. The opposition party MP, Durdu Özbolat, said:
“All extremist and radical organizations such as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, among others, were created by the Development and Justice Party, as they were trained on Turkish soil and moved freely.”
Refiq Eryilmaz, also an MP for the Republican People’s Party, confirmed in a statement to the Voice of America radio, that: “Turkey never took the necessary measure to deter terrorists from crossing into Syria via the Turkish lands, to join the ISIS mercenaries,” and that “Turkey turns a blind eye to the ISIS moves as a result to policies adopted by the Development and Justice Party, hostile to Syria and it’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and support to the al-Nusra Front,” noting that the Erdogan regime remains silent as Turkey is being used as logistic base for jihadist terrorists.
In an interview with Homeland Security Today in late February, Abu Mansur al-Maghribi, the connection between Turkish intelligence and ISIS, detailed that the two sides were in close cooperation.
Abu Mansur said that there were many meetings carried out between ISIS and Turkish officials, from those representing the Turkish Intelligence, to other high-ranks of the Turkish Army. These meetings, according to Abu Mansur, changed location in accordance with the urgency of the topics to be discussed. The connection detailed that while some meetings were held in Turkish military posts, some were held within Turkish occupation borders, in Ankara or Gaziantep.
Other reports were issued by the Security and Research Center on the role played by Turkey in supporting ISIS mercenaries. Similar findings by other institutes and organizations supported the claims by the ISIS connection, by the Anti-Terror Center in the US West Point Academy 2014, and by David Philips, director of the Building Peace Program in the Human Rights Researches Institute in the University of Columbia, 2014, and the report by Aaron Stean, an expert on Turkish issues.
In the same relation, an expert on Turkey, Karam Sa’eed, explained that the relation between Turkey and the ISIS mercenaries started in 2014, where hostages were held at the Turkish consulate in Mosul. According to Karam, after deliberations with ISIS, all hostages were released amid reports that Turkey cooperated with the ISIS terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, in areas rich with oil, for cheaper exchange prices.