Newsweek magazine reported today on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) “organised recruiting network,” which is “operating online and through religious study groups” in and around Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.
Although a government official quoted in the report claims that “all necessary actions and precautions are being taken” to fight ISIS’ influence within Turkey’s borders, Newsweek cites residents of Istanbul who paint a different picture:
That claim is disputed by the family of Ahmet Beyaztas, a 25-year-old Kurdish car mechanic, who joined the group last month. Speaking at home in the bleak factory town of Dilovasi, a polluted and poverty-stricken community on the fringe of Istanbul, his brother Kenan tells of how local Isis supporters openly displayed its flag in the windows of their cars and homes. …
“There are many, many more who are joining. And the police are doing nothing,” says Kenan, 30, a schoolteacher. “I’m Kurdish and a leftist. If four Kurds get together the state will break them apart. Of course they can stop them if they choose to.”
The young man, Ahmet, was one of “19 young men from the neighbourhood who boarded two minibuses and headed to Syria to join the fighters.” A Turkish newspaper reported in June that some 3,000 Turks had joined the ranks of ISIS.
Turkey has expressed an unwillingness to allow the United States to launch air strikes from its territory against ISIS. Turkey’s lax border controls have allowed ISIS to make millions by selling black market oil to finance its operations.
In Where the Shadiest Players Find a Home, published in the September 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Schanzer wrote:
As Human Rights Watch noted in an October report, “Many foreign fighters operating in northern Syria gain access to Syria via Turkey, from which they also smuggle their weapons, obtain money and other supplies, and sometimes retreat to for medical treatment.”
Now it isn’t just ISIS recruits from other countries who are taking advantage of Turkey’s porous borders.
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