WASHINGTON – Amid increasing doubts about Turkey’s loyalty to its NATO allies, the jihadist group ISIS has opened a consulate in the Turkish capital, according to a Middle East expert who monitors jihadist activity in the region.
The consulate in Ankara, apparently open with the tacit permission of the Turkish government, is issuing visas for those who want to join ISIS in its fight against the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the source said.
The ISIS army, declaring the creation of the first Islamic caliphate since the end of the Ottoman Turkish Empire a century ago, has brutally seized large portions of Syria and Iraq.
Turkey has resisted joining the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, refusing even to allow the U.S. to use its bases to launch attacks on ISIS targets in Syria or Iraq. This week, Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed the camps of Kurdish rebels in the southeast of the country, near its borders with Iraq and Syria. U.S.-led coalition bombing has defended Kurds in Syria and Iraq from ISIS attacks. Turkey’s attack was on fighters of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, which historically has sought a portion of Turkey to form the independent country of Kurdistan, along with parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The ISIS consulate is in the Cankaya district of Ankara, operating freely, the Middle East source said, giving the ISIS caliphate the political recognition normally afforded a country.
“Maybe what ISIS is doing serves one way or another in a new caliphate state ruled by the ‘Ottomans,” the WND source said.
While President Obama caters to Turkey’s Erdogan to join the coalition and continues to provide technology to Turkey as a NATO member, sources say the U.S. Congress should act and examine Turkey’s ties to ISIS and its affiliation with jihadi terrorists and those who fund them.
Middle East sources also tell WND that Bilal Erdogan, son of Turkey’s newly elected Islamic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is working with Yassin al-Qadi, a Saudi businessman, who last year was linked to al-Qaida. He is on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.
Qadi separately has denied any linkage to al-Qaida.
Because of the designation, Qadi was supposed to be banned by Turkey from entering the country. But last December there were reports he had entered the country multiple times without the need of a passport or visa and was escorted by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s protective detail, when Erdogan was the prime minister.
The same sources add that Qadi now is in the ISIS leadership.
They say Bilal, with his father’s support, is pushing Turkish business prospects in ISIS-occupied territories of Syria and Iraq, subjecting all who haven’t been killed to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.
Requests to the Turkish Embassy in Washington and the State Department for comment regarding the allegation ISIS has opened a consulate in Ankara and Balil Erdogan’s relationship with Qadi went unanswered.
As WND recently reported, ISIS cash flow relies on Turkey, despite international requests from 30 nations in Paris to cut off such funding by “whatever means necessary” to defeat the jihadist group.
Through Turkey, ISIS makes almost $30 million a month selling black-market Iraqi oil at less than half the global market rate. The primary recipient of the cut-rate oil is Turkey.
WND recently reported Turkish companies also are heeding a call by ISIS to invest in areas it has taken over in Iraq
Turkey’s minister of economy, Nihat Zeybekci, expressed interest in encouraging Turkish businesses to invest in ISIS-occupied portions of Iraq.
“Our exports to Iraq are now down to 35 percent, but Iraq cannot easily substitute other sources,” Neybekci said.
“We think there will be a boom in demand soon,” he said. “We also know that [ISIS] is contacting individual Turkish businessmen and telling them, ‘Come back, we won’t interfere.’ That is not easy, of course. But when the future Iraq is rebuilt, it will be Turkey doing it.”
The revelations came as President Obama met with representatives of the Arab and Western countries who belong to the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C.
Turkish Lt. Gen. Erdal Ozturk was one of the 20 foreign defense ministers present. However, Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has not formally signed the protocol to join the coalition.
As WND reported, the goal of defeating ISIS could be undermined because the members of the loosely formed U.S.-led coalition are fighting for different objectives.
The Arab countries that have joined the U.S. in bombing selected ISIS targets in Syria have far different motives than the Europeans who have committed their airpower to bomb ISIS targets only in Iraq.
The Sunni Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan are committing air power to bomb selected ISIS sites in Syria but ultimately want to weaken the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and replace him with a Sunni regime.
The Western countries – including the U.K., Denmark, Belgium and Australia – have joined with the U.S. out of concern that the more than 4,000 foreign soldiers fighting on behalf of ISIS could return to their countries to wage jihad.
Assad is a Shia-Alawite closely tied with Shia Iran, which is in a proxy war with the Sunni Arab countries for influence in the Middle East region.
Similarly, Turkey’s primary responsibility is the defeat of Assad, not of ISIS. Washington is concerned about Turkey’s lack of participation, as WND recently reported.
Turkey, meanwhile, is concerned that the coalition against ISIS not only will grant new legitimacy to Assad but will empower the PKK as part of the coalition.
Turkey bombed PKK sites inside the country Monday, using U.S.-supplied F-4s and F-16s, after the group attacked a military outpost near the Iraqi border.
The strikes against the PKK break a cease-fire made in March 2013 between the outlawed group and the Erdogan government, both of which have been involved in a war for 30 years over Kurdish demands to create a Kurdish state.
Aid to Muslim Brotherhood
WND’s sources say Bilal Erdogan not only has ties with ISIS but also is on the board of Turkey’s Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or IHH, an Islamic charity.
IHH has a history of helping extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates worldwide. The senior Erdogan recently allowed members of the Brotherhood from Egypt to come to Turkey after having been kicked out of Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, was forcibly removed by the Egyptian military.
According to sources, IHH is financed by Qadi. It is an affiliate of the Saudi-based “Union of Good,” which is chaired by Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian scholar who also is chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
Qaradawi is known for his inflammatory remarks toward Israel and is a major advocate of suicide attacks, especially in the Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine. Like the Erdogans, Qaradawi opposes Assad.
The State Department also has listed the Union of Good as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Turkey’s parliament, however, is concerned about the Erdogan government’s ties to ISIS. In a letter to Erdogan, members of parliament alleged that the government was supporting the jihadis, helping to facilitate their travel at border crossings into Syria from Turkey and providing truckloads of weapons while offering health care at Turkish state hospitals for wounded ISIS fighters.
In the letter, the parliament asked for an official explanation of the Erdogan government’s ties to ISIS and its knowledge of IHH activities.
The government never responded.