JERUSALEM – A Hamas leader speaking to WND has confirmed his organization is using NATO member Turkey as a refuge for logistics, training and planning terrorist attacks.
Turkey has denied the allegation.
The top Hamas member spoke on condition of anonymity. He refused to comment on Israel’s recent dismantling of a terror ring of 30 jihadists in the West Bank that the Jewish state says was run from Hamas headquarters in Turkey.
However, the Hamas strongman confirmed to WND that Turkey is indeed used as a base by Hamas operatives led by Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas leader based in Turkey who has amassed significant power within the terror group’s infrastructure and directs his own wing from the NATO country.
Last Thursday, Israel’s Shin Bet security service disclosed that in September it had dismantled the Hamas terror ring of 30 West Bank gunmen who were being directed by what the Shin Bet described as a Hamas base in Turkey.
The Shin Bet said the ring was preparing to carry out major terrorist attacks, including the bombing of Jerusalem’s main soccer stadium and the city’s light rail train line. The ring also sought to kidnap Israelis domestically and abroad, carry out roadside attacks, storm Jewish villages and plant car bombs in Israeli cities.
Hamas’ Turkish leadership, directed by al-Arouri, was said to have also been behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last June.
A report on Israel’s Ynet news website stated Israeli diplomats appealed to NATO to take action against Turkey for allegedly providing Hamas leaders refuge to plot attacks.
“It’s illogical for a NATO member to host a terrorist organization that trains and plans terror attacks on its soil,” an Israeli statement read, according to Ynet.
Turkish officials claimed Israel’s allegations of a Hamas headquarters in Turkey are “lies and deception” meant to undermine relations between the two countries.
Regarding to dismantlement of a terrorist cell directed from Turkey, Ynet quoted an unnamed Turkish diplomat stating,”It never happened.”
Continued the Turkish diplomat: “There are elements in Israel who are trying to torpedo the attempts to smooth things out between the two countries and turn a new leaf. They are telling lies, as though Hamas operates in Turkey with the government’s knowledge.
“Turkey has a dialogue with Hamas but will absolutely not allow any terror organization to operate on its soil.”
A recent Al Monitor profile on al-Arouri’s Hamas wing in Turkey states the Istanbul-based Hamas leader “amasses significant power within the familiar Hamas structure and even has substantive influence on the functioning of the movement – influence that bends Hamas leadership to his will.”
“Based in Istanbul, Arouri tends to adopt autonomous characteristics similar to those of the Hamas military wing in the Gaza Strip,” wrote Al Monitor columnist Shlomi Eldar.
Hamas terror hotels
One year ago, WND was first to report Turkey has replaced Iran as the biggest financial backer of Hamas. While a portion of the Turkish backing comes in the form of direct grants, the more lucrative transactions for Hamas are derived from the business opportunities to which it has been privy.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has facilitated major financial investments by Hamas in businesses located in Turkey, primarily hotels, according to informed Middle Eastern defense officials speaking to WND.
The defense officials said the financial ventures currently constitute the largest returns for the investment wing of Hamas’ government.
The defense officials said Erdogan and his government facilitated the Hamas business investments, working with Abed El Aziz, the head of the Gazan group’s superior council for investments.
The officials said Erdogan wanted the aid to Hamas to be returned to his country in the form of employment that helps to fuel the Turkish economy.
Hamas was given prime rates for investments in hotels, restaurants and other firms based in Turkey.
In fact, the officials say Turkey now has eclipsed Iran and Qatar as the biggest financial backer of Hamas.
Iran has scaled back much of its aid to Hamas, while Tehran continues to contribute the Islamist terror group’s so-called military wing.