October 1, 2019
Five or six years ago, when I was still working most intensively on issues related to jihadism in Russia and globally, I warned of the Caucasus Emirate-tied network running from Russia’s North Caucasus to ISIS in Syria and Iraq through Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia (with Tbilisi’s connivance) (see previous articles here and here).
Somewhat more recently, I also had written about former US President Barak Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) strategy for bringing ‘Islamic democracy’ to the Muslim world and its dire consequences in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in what came to be misnamed the ‘Arab Spring’. America’s hopefully accidental but nevertheless resulting connivance with ISIS and Al Qai`da-tied groups (e.g., AQ-tied Jabhar al-Nusrah) was exacerbated by intentional connivance by one of Obama’s partners in creating the Arab winter: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
New Turkish court documents demonstrate that Turkey’s intelligence service, MIT, knew about the transport of, and often conspired to facilitate said of ISIS and AQ jihadists through Turkish territory to Syria on buses owned by the MIT. At least 15,000 ISIS jihadists entered Syria this way, and higher Turkish authorities knew but did nothing.
Indeed, Ankara ordered regular police not to intercept ISIS jihadists traversing Turkish territory, according to former Turkish National Police counterterrorism official Ahmet Yayla, who until 2015 supervised a sector in southern Turkey near Syria’s border. This evidence is conclusive, confirming other highly suggestive evidence. Some of 118 ISIS prisoners and defectors interviewed during the past three years for a research project revealed that Turkish intelligence knew of their activities and did nothing try to hinder them (See Anne Speckhard’s Talking to Terrorists).
One ISIS member claims that Turkey provided the jihadi group with drones and munitions for use against the Kurds, that Turkish hospitals treated ISIS fighters during the 2014-15 battle for Kobane, and that the company responsible for helping to provide the treatment has ties to Erdogan’s government.
The European Union’s intelligence organ, EU INTCEN, has proposed that the October 2015 ISIS suicide attack that killed 109 people in Ankara was facilitated by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and suspiciously lax security, since the attack targeted a march protesting Turkish government violence against rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The incident strengthened Erdogan and the AKP politically, securing them a parliamentary majority in elections the next month. Two other ISIS bombings took place around that time, in which “(a)ll operatives were known to security” but were left alone (see source here).
The connivances of these misbegotten and ill-conceived US, NATO and Turkish policies afforded Russian President Vladimir Putin an excellent opportunity to attack the network of the CE successor and ISIS-tied Caucasus Vilaiyat of the Islamic State (CVIS) and simultaneously expose the US’s ongoing hubris, perfidy, and recklessness. Thus, Putin intervened in Syria not just to expose the West’s failed policies but also to prop up a semi-ally in the form of the Bashad Assad regime against them and to damage the ISIS, AQ-tied jihadi groups meddling in the Caucasus as well as less radical MB-tied groups in Syria. This policy has purchased Moscow new allies and semi-allies among secularist regimes in the Muslim world, most notably in Egypt, but also in Lybia, Algeria, and even Jordan. It has also left the US with much less leverage in the region, which is now destabilized for decades to come.
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group. Dr. Hahn’s most recent book is Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War”. He has authored three previous, well-received books: The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction Publishers, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media. Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.