Monday, July 27, 2015

Turkey openly supports jihadi groups: Ahrar al-Sham (al-Qaeda) - Jabhat al-Nusra And ISIS

Turkey openly supports jihadi groups: Ahrar al-Sham (al-Qaeda) - Jabhat al-Nusra And ISIS. (Guardian).

When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbors.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey.

From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world.

The estimated $1m-$4m per day in oil revenues that was thought to have flowed into Isis coffers over at least six months from late 2013 helped to transform an ambitious force with limited means into a juggernaut that has been steadily drawing western forces back to the region and increasingly testing state borders.

In the wake of the raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, suspicions of an undeclared alliance have hardened. One senior western official familiar with the intelligence gathered at the slain leader’s compound said that direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking Isis members was now “undeniable”.

“There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there,” the official told the Observer. “They are being analysed at the moment, but the links are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara.”

Flashback to the early days of ISIS: 

On Thursday, nearly one year into the US-led air campaign against Isis, Turkey dropped its opposition to entering the fray, dispatching fighter jets to its border from where they fired rockets at Isis targets just inside Syria. The attacks were a response to a suicide bombing in the southern province of Suruc, which killed 32 people, and an earlier cross-border attack that killed a Turkish soldier.

However, Turkey has openly supported other jihadi groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, which espouses much of al-Qaida’s ideology, and Jabhat al-Nusra, which is proscribed as a terror organisation by much of the US and Europe.

“The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the western official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”

European officials have regularly said they have gained no traction trying to raise either organisation with Ankara and have long been warned off trying. Isis, though, has gradually been recognised as a force that can no longer be contained or managed. “We can talk about them now,” said a European official in Ankara. “As long as we describe them as ‘those who abuse religion’. Hmmmm........'State sponsor of terrorism, sometimes NATO Ally'...BFF Of Hussein Obama. Read the full story here.

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