The Turks to ISIS: “Let’s Make a Deal”

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

Ankara is dealing “diplomatically” with the so-called Islamic State, and may be helping it attack Kurds in Syria, even as Washington tries to “degrade and destroy it.”
By Thomas Seibert:
ISTANBUL, Turkey – As tens of thousands of refugees flee the latest ISIS advances, Kurdish politicians in Turkey are accusing Ankara of helping the so-calledIslamic State in its latest blitzkrieg through neighboring Syria.The accusations echo concerns both inside and outside Turkey that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tolerated extremist groups in Syria in the hope that their fighters would speed up the downfall of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. But at the same time in a region of confused alliances where it’s increasingly obvious the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, Ankara has undermined American efforts to build an anti-ISIS coalition.

The fresh allegations against Erdogan came on the same day that he revealed “diplomatic and political bargaining” ISIS had freed 46 Turkish and three Iraqi hostages that had been in the hands of the extremists since June. ISIS itself said Turkey had promised not to take part in an US-led coalition that is preparing military strikes against the militants in Syria.

Takva Haber, a Turkish website that often reflects ISIS thinking, said the order to release the Turkish hostages had come directly from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “A phase of negotiations, held basically between two states” had led to the outcome, the website said.

Recognition of ISIS or ISIL as a “state” at any level or in any form is precisely what al-Baghdadi is looking for and U.S. President Barack Obama vehemently opposes.

“ISIL is certainly not a state,” Obama said earlier this month.  “It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.  ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

Takva Haber begs to differ. Through the hostage negotiations, Turkey had indirectly recognized the ISIS “caliphate,” it said, and suggested that the hostage release was a quid pro quo for Turkey’s refusal to aid the anti-ISIS alliance. “The state of the Turkish republic has taken a stance against a new occupation [of Syria and Iraq] by rejecting participation in the U.S. occupation coalition.”

Erdogan has insisted that no monetary ransom was paid, but he confirmed on Sunday that Turkey’s intelligence service did negotiate with ISIS. Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Erdogan said there were critics accusing Turkey of bargaining with ISIS. “If they are referring to financial bargaining, this is out of the question,” he said. “But if they are referring to a diplomatic bargaining, of course we are talking about a political, diplomatic bargaining. This is a diplomatic victory.”

“Diplomacy” is not normally a word associated with terrorist hostage negotiations.

Read more at Daily Beast

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US Muslim Charity Linked to Turkish Hamas Affiliate IHH

Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd L) and Bulent Yildirim (L), head of Turkey's Islamic and pro-Hmas rights group, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief wave the flag of the terrorist organization Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). (Photo: © Reuters)

Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd L) and Bulent Yildirim (L), head of Turkey’s Islamic and pro-Hmas rights group, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief wave the flag of the terrorist organization Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). (Photo: © Reuters)

Many organizations are swayed by their legitimate humanitarian work, but Islamists use social services for ideological and terrorist purposes.

By Ryan Mauro:

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), the U.S. branch of the charity group Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), is linked to a Hamas affiliate in Turkey named the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

The Money Jihad blog discovered that three IRW offices have a working relationship with IHH. The U.S. branch based in Virginia is also likely directly linked to IHH. The blog points out how IRUSA’s website says it delivers aid to Syria “through Islamic Relief partner offices in Turkey.”

In July, the Clarion Project reported on how IHH was signing up human shields for Hamas during its recent fighting with Israel. IHH exalts Hamas as “the resistance,” talks about uniting the Muslim world into a caliphate and envisions a day when “Muslims may show up in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem one day unannounced and we will erect the flag of Islam everywhere.”

IHH is very close to the Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan, a top backer of Hamas. Last month, IHH signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the government of Qatar, a staunch sponsor of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel, Germany and the Netherlands have branded IHH as a terrorist entity. The U.S. has not formally done so, but a bipartisan group of 87 members of Congress including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have requested its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department.

The State Department considered it but did not take action, even though a leaked State Department memo from 2009 shows that the U.S. government knows IHH is “providing material assistance to Hamas.” In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted a Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition of charities for financing Hamas that includes IHH.

IHH’s “humanitarian” work in Syria could be a front for supporting terrorists. The former U.S. ambassador to Turkey recently confirmed that the Erdogan government was assisting Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. As Clarion wrote about, Turkish police that investigated IHH’s suspected links to Al-Qaeda in Syria were retaliated against by the Erdogan government.

The involvement with IHH is just another addition to IRW/IRUSA’s history of Islamist extremism and suspected ties to terrorism.

The Clarion Project has extensively researched IRUSA’s ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement with the U.S. government, including having its CEO chosen as an advisor to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Read more at Clarion Project

Islamist foreign fighters returning home and the threat to Europe

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Tom_Large (1)By

Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.

But I begin by recalling the 9/11 Commission’s warning with respect to failed states. “In the twentieth century,” the Commission’s final report reads, “strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands.” In the twenty-first century, however, “the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states.” A few sentences later, the Commission continues:

If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords or narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.

Those words were written more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, they still ring true today, not just for the US, but also for Europe. Except, we no longer have to worry about just Iraq becoming a failed state. We now have to contend with a failed state in Syria as well. And Syria is not “remote.” It is much easier for foreign fighters to travel to Syria today than it was for new jihadists to get to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This is one reason that there are likely more foreign fighters in Syria than there were in Afghanistan at the height of the jihad against the Soviets. Estimates vary, but the total number of foreign recruits in Syria easily tops 10,000. A CIA source recently told CNN “that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria.” They “come from more than 80 countries.”

This, of course, is an unprecedented security challenge and one that counterterrorism and intelligence officials will be dealing with for some time to come. It requires exceptional international cooperation to track the threats to Europe and elsewhere emerging out of Iraq and Syria. My thoughts below are focused on what I consider to be some of the key aspects of dealing with this threat.

At the moment, most people are understandably focused on the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or ISIS). There is certainly a strong possibility that some foreign fighters will return from fighting in the Islamic State’s ranks to commit an act of terror at home, either on their own accord or under the direction of senior terrorists.

However, I also want to focus our attention today one of the other significant threat streams coming out of Syria. Al-Qaeda’s official branch in the country, Jabhat al-Nusrah, has experienced al-Qaeda veterans in its ranks. I think they pose more of a near-term threat when it comes to launching catastrophic attacks in the West than do their Islamic State counterparts. And even though al-Nusrah and the Islamic State have been at odds, we should not rule out the possibility that parts of each organization could come together against their common enemies in the West. Indeed, two of al-Qaeda’s leading branches are currently encouraging the jihadists in Syria to broker a truce, such that they focus their efforts against the US and its allies. There is also a large incentive for terrorists in both organizations to separately lash out at the West, portraying any such attacks as an act of retaliation for the American-led bombings.

Read more at Long War Journal

Turkey Hosting at Least 12 Hamas Operatives

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a protest rally outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Turkey / AP

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a protest rally outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Turkey / AP

By Adam Kredo:

At least 12 Hamas operatives, including a senior leader and others convicted of murder, have enjoyed safe haven in Turkey, a country that regional experts say is quickly becoming “a very hospitable environment” for Hamas terrorists to plan operations.

Turkey’s ties to Hamas have come under scrutiny in recent weeks after it came to light that a senior Hamas leader accused of planning the kidnapping of three Israeli teens is being sheltered in the country with the government’s knowledge.

In addition to top Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri, Turkey has provided shelter to at least 11 other Hamas militants, two of whom have murdered Israelis and are known to the Turkish authorities, according to data published by the Palestinian National Information Center.

While Turkey’s support for Hamas has attracted concern in prominent foreign policy circles, the State Department has not expressed concern about the developments and is going forward with weapons shipments to Ankara.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, warned that Turkey and Hamas are only growing closer.

“It appears that there are at least two convicted murderers running around Turkey right now with the full acknowledgment of the government in Ankara. But because their victims were Israelis, there does not appear to be a lot of concern about a possible threat to public safety,” said Schanzer, who recently exposed the full list of Hamas operatives believed to be residing in Turkey.

“It is entirely unclear how many Hamas figures are based in Turkey right now, but it is clear that the country has become a very hospitable environment for leaders such as Saleh Arouri, but also some of the rank-and-file,” warned Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Israel released into Turkey 10 Hamas militants as part of its 2011 deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Others were released to Syria and Qatar, Hamas’ chief financier.

Since that time, Hamas members have enjoyed unfettered access to Turkey, where members such as Al-Arouri have hatched terror plots to overthrow the Palestinian government in the West Bank and replace it with Hamas terrorists.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Basting Turkey’s New Prime Minister

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with Ahmet Davutoğlu (right)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) with Ahmet Davutoğlu (right)

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
August 28, 2014

As Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ascends today to the presidency of Turkey, his hand-picked successor, Ahmet Davutoğlu, simultaneously assumes Erdoğan’s old job of prime minister. What do these changes portend for Turkey and its foreign policy? In two words: nothing good.

He asked me about the neo-conservative movement in the United States, then at the height of its fame and supposed influence. I began by expressing doubts that I was a member of this elite group, as Davutoğlu assumed, and went on to note that none of the key decision-makers in the George W. Bush administration (the president, vice president, secretaries of state and defense, or the national security adviser) was a neo-conservative, a fact that made me skeptical of its vaunted power. Davutoğlu responded with a subtle form of antisemitism, insisting that neo-conservatives were far more powerful than I acknowledged because they worked together in a secret network based on religious ties. (He had the good grace not to mention which religion that might be.)In June 2005, when Davutoğlu served as chief foreign policy adviser to Erdoğan, I spoke with him for an hour in Ankara. Two topics from that conversation remain vivid.

In turn, I asked him about the goals of Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East in the era of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that had begun in 2002, noting Ankara’s new ambitions in a region it had long disdained. He conceded this change, then took me on a quick tour d’horizon from Afghanistan to Morocco, noting Turkey’s special ties with many countries. These included the presence of Turkic-speakers (e.g., in Iraq), the legacy of Ottoman rule (Lebanon), economic symbiosis (Syria), Islamic ties (Saudi Arabia), and diplomatic mediation (Iran).

What struck me most was the boastful optimism and complete self-assurance of Davutoğlu, former professor of international relations and an Islamist ideologue. He not only implied that Turkey had waited breathlessly for him and his grand vision but he also displayed an unconcealed delight at finding himself in a position to apply his academic theories to the great canvas of international politics. (This privilege occurs surprisingly rarely.) In sum, that conversation inspired neither my confidence nor my admiration.

While Davutoğlu has done remarkably well for himself in the intervening years, he did so exclusively as consigliere to his sole patron, Erdoğan. His record, by contrast, has been one ofinconsistent policy and consistent failure, a failure so abject it borders on fiasco. Under Davutoğlu’s stewardship, Ankara’s relations with Western countries have almost universally soured, while those with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Libya, among other Middle Eastern states, have plummeted. To top it off, Turkish rule is endangered even in its own northern Cypriot satrapy.

Having failed as foreign minister, Davutoğlu now – in an application of The Dilbert Principle – ascends to a heady but subservient leadership of both the AKP and the government. He faces two major challenges:Symbolically, Turkey is slipping away from the NATO alliance of democracies and toward the shoddy Sino-Russian grouplet known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. As Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition, sadly notes, “Turkey has grown lonely in the world.”

As AKP leader, he is tasked with producing a great victory in the June 2015 parliamentary elections to modify the constitution and turn the semi-ceremonial position of president into the elected sultanate Erdoğan lusts for. Can Davutoğlu deliver the votes? Color me skeptical. I expect that Erdoğan will rue the day he relinquished his prime ministry to become president, as he finds himself ignored and bored living in the sprawling presidential “campus.”

As Turkey’s 26th prime minister, Davutoğlu faces a bubble economy perilously near collapse, a breakdown in the rule of law, a country inflamed by Erdoğan’s divisive rule, a hostile Gülen movement, and a divided AKP, all converging within an increasingly Islamist (and therefore uncivil) country. Moreover, the foreign policy problems that Davutoğlu himself created still continue, especially the ISIS hostage emergency in Mosul.

The Turkish consulate in Mosul before its seizure.

The unfortunate Davutoğlu brings to mind a cleanup crew arriving at the party at 4 a.m., facing a mess created by now-departed revelers. Happily, the contentious and autocratic Erdoğan no longer holds Turkey’s key governmental position; but his placing the country in the unsteady hands of a loyalist of proven incompetence brings many new concerns for the Turks, their neighbors, and all who wish the country well.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.

ISIS Declares War On Hamas And The Muslim Brotherhood

771By Walid ShoebatAugust 23, 2014:

There is a war of fatwas and some serious cyber rattling back and forth between the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand and the organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on the other hand. The fatwa wars erupted after Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, president of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars, the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood, denounced the legitimacy for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph of the Muslim world. In turn, the ISIS denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and in addition Hamas as “apostates” and “followers of witchcraft theology”

The fatwa wars erupted when Qaradawi reiterated his call that announcing a Caliphate is under the authority of the Union of Muslim Scholars which it only represented the decision making in Muslim world. The Quran clearly says that Muslims need to obey “Allah, his messenger and the people of authority” (Q4:59). Qaradawi said: “The announcement for a Caliphate is not an entitlement to any faction because this function in every Muslim nation is entitled only to the scholars to indicate the legitimate government in such matters.”

He said in a statement that all those things that took place with ISIS “are without any criteria of legitimacy nor are realistic and does more harm than good,” adding “We are all dreaming of an Islamic caliphate on a platform of prophecy and hope from the bottom of our hearts that will be held today before tomorrow, but Islam taught us, and the school of life has taught us: that such a major project needs hard and long thinking and heavy preparation.”

The latest statements by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was that the “Islamic Caliphate” for the whole world is Istanbul Turkey, claiming that “Istanbul is the capital for the Islamic Arab world and the West,” calling on the Turkish people to support Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “because God and Gabriel and Muhammad support Erdogan and the angels after that will be revealed.”

Those opinions raised an eyebrow from the ISIS when its chief ideologue, Shanqiti denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas governments as apostates, and mocked Qaradawi’s fatwa which according to him goes along the principle of “the rule of the people,” saying that the Muslim Brotherhood:

“seeks to support the religion in terms of the Social Contract theory and is resorting to the ordinances and other exaggerations from the trash bin of ideas. Whoever does this is someone who claims to support the religion while they practice witchcraft.”

Shanqeeti said in his response to Qaradawi that the Muslim Brotherhood is harming the Muslim world:

“The Brotherhood by this deed damaged the Muslim world more than benefiting it and they delay the return of the Caliphate for decades by wasting tremendous financial and human resources running behind a mirage telling their followers that “God is their goal, and that the Prophet is their example and that Islam is their destiny?!””

Shanqeeti mocked Qaradawi’s fatwa saying:

“O Sheikh; The caliph is our Prince of the Mujahidin, Sheikh Ibrahim Awad al-Badri [Al-Baghdadi], who needs not your advice and has been given allegiance from battle hardened warriors who has gone through battles, trials and tribulations; your despicable fatwah will not hurt them”.

He pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is only interested in power and making peace treaties with Israel as is with Turkey:

“as soon as they [The Muslim Brotherhood] came to power until things turned against them, their destination and their example went alongside the atheists and secularists with lubricity for America and appeasement for Israel, and we saw the same thing in Turkey and Gaza and Egypt during the reign of the ‘apostate Juggernaut Mohamed Morsi,’”

Shoebat.com has predicted that an escalation in Caliphate mania will arise. In this case we have the foxes on one hand and the bullies on the other. In the end, the foxes will win the minds of the Muslim masses and a Caliphate will be established in Turkey.

REFERENCES
Translated from AlBawabh (The Gate News) http://www.albawabhnews.com/748771

Also see:

Time to Part Ways with Erdogan

erdoganby Ari Lieberman:

There is no question that Turkey, because of its size and geo-strategic location maintains a pivotal role in NATO. Its armed forces are NATO’s second largest and its troops had acquitted themselves well during the Korean War. Turkey had also played a constructive role in bridging relations between Israel and the Muslim world acting as an effective interlocutor. But with the ascent of the Islamist Justice and Development party in 2002 and the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as party boss, things have taken a stark turn for the worse.

Under the stewardship of an increasingly unbalanced Erdogan, Turkey has renounced secularism in favor of Islamist dogma and creeping sharia. Turkey’s new president elect has, through intimidation and strong-arm tactics, usurped control of Turkey’s judiciary and press. Indeed, Turkey holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest incarcerator of journalists followed only by Iran and China.

An increasingly paranoid Erdogan has also declared war on social media and in March threatened to ban Facebook and YouTube, accusing the sites of “every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends.” Erdogan had already banned YouTube for two years though the restriction was lifted in 2010.

Erdogan’s disloyalty to the United States and NATO began early in his term of office as prime minister but his betrayals have only increased in recent years.

In March 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turkey refused to allow the deployment of US troops on Turkish soil which would have enabled the US to open a second front against Saddam Hussein. Turkey also refused to allow the US to utilize Turkish airspace and airbases to launch strikes against Iraqi forces.

In 2010, Turkey was one of only two nations in the UN Security Council (the other being Brazil) that voted against imposing sanctions against Iran in connection with its nuclear proliferation activities. Turkey (along with China) is currently taking a lead role in helping the Islamic Republic circumvent sanctions, often fronting for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and instituting various other schemes to bypass legal obstacles.  Turkey’s stance on Iran has even drawn praise from mullah’s official propaganda outlet, Press TV.

It is clear that Turkey, acting as Iran’s conduit to Europe has become the Islamic Republic’s premier enabler. Turkey’s outreach to Iran represents a disturbing pattern by Erdogan to curry favor with nations and entities whose interests substantially diverge from Washington’s. Turkey has established itself as the world’s foremost supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States.  Turkey has also opted to purchase air defense platforms from a Chinese firm already on a designated sanctions list for violating embargoes against Iran and North Korea. Moreover, the Chinese systems are incompatible with NATO platforms but to Erdogan, NATO’s defense needs play second fiddle to his disconcerting policy of thumbing his nose at the West.

Central to any defense pact and cooperation between allies is trust. But Erdogan has proven that he is anything but trustworthy. In fact, he has established himself as the premier betrayer of trust when, in violation of all norms and protocol within the intelligence community, he betrayed a network of spies working to compile data on Iran’s proliferation activities.

Read more at Front Page

Did a Hamas Plot to Seize the West Bank Really Cause the Gaza War?

fatah-hamas-450x252Front Page, By Daniel Greenfield:

If some of this information holds up, then the picture of the Gaza War changes significantly.

A large-scale Hamas terrorist formation in the West Bank and Jerusalem planned to destabilize the region through a series of deadly terror attacks in Israel and then topple the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, the Shin Bet said Monday.

The Turkey-based Hamas overseas headquarters orchestrated the plot which centered on a string of mass casualty terror attacks on Israeli targets, the Shin Bet added.

The end goal was to destabilize the Palestinian territories and use the instability to carry out a military coup, overthrowing the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Hamas infrastructure relied on support from cells in neighboring Jordan, and on couriers who delivered terrorist finances, totaling at least two million shekels, which were used to purchase weapons and homes that were used as hideouts, according to the investigation.

Ninety three Hamas members are in Israeli custody, and the Shin Bet has questioned 46 so far. Security forces plan to indict some 70 suspects. The investigation began in May, and is ongoing, security sources said.

The earliest timeline of the arrests appears to predate the official onset of the fighting. Also the operation was orchestrated from Turkey, much like the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens.

What that may really mean is that Israel was caught in the middle of a power play between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. If Turkey’s tyrant Erdogan seemed even more hysterical during the war than usual, it was because he had helped set it off. And if Saudi Arabia seemed a bit suspiciously supportive, that was because it was using Israel in its proxy war with Qatar and Turkey.

Once it was clear that the operation was exposed, Hamas decided to go all in while counting on Turkey and Qatar to bring Obama to the rescue. The results have been mixed, but if Israel ends up making concessions then all the bad guys on both sides will get what they want.

The war as we saw it, was actually a semi-accidental result of a larger Hamas operation going off prematurely as part of an internal civil war within the Muslim world.

The twist in all this is that the Unity Government of Fatah and Hamas was only a prelude to Hamas stabbing Fatah in the back.

State Dept. Defends Arms Sales to Turkey Despite Hamas Ties

A Turkish soldier stands by a tank as he patrols the border with Syria / AP

A Turkish soldier stands by a tank as he patrols the border with Syria / AP

By Adam Kredo:

The State Department defended missile sales to Turkey just hours after news emerged that Ankara is hosting and abetting a senior Hamas operative who planned to violently overthrow the Palestinian government in the West Bank and wage war on Israel.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf defended the transfer of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) to Turkey just days after she was forced to explain why the White House had stepped in to block similar weapons shipments to Israel.

Reporters at Harf’s daily briefing expressed confusion as to why arms shipments would be stopped to Israel yet permitted to Turkey, despite the latter nation’s increasing anti-Semitism and efforts to bolster Hamas terrorists.

Israeli security officials revealed early Monday that it had disrupted a plot to infiltrate the West Bank and overthrow the moderate government. It is believed that the plot was orchestrated by a Hamas leader in Turkey who also helped plan the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teens earlier this year.

Harf was asked Monday afternoon to explain why President Barack Obama is giving Turkey high-tech arms while holding up shipments to Israel, a move that has drawn outrage in the pro-Israel community.

Harf defended the “extra care” the Obama administration is exerting over Israeli shipments and said that it is “important” to give Turkey arms right now.

“Turkey is also a NATO ally,” she said. “So for all of us who are—talk a lot about the importance of the NATO alliance, particularly when it comes to Russia and Ukraine and what’s happening there, we think it’s important to provide our NATO allies with resources. We think that’s an important use of our resources. The two [cases] aren’t comparable, but those are the facts behind them, I would say.”

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

Turkish Leader Doubles Down on Blaming Israel for Anti-Semitism

1407370126197.cachedBy Eli Lake:

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has some advice for his strongest supporters in the U.S. Congress: If you don’t like the rise of anti-Semitism that has accompanied Israel’s latest war, then you should pressure Israel to stop killing Palestinians.

An August 5 letter written by one of Erdogan’s top advisers on behalf of the prime minister and obtained by The Daily Beast disputes accusations that his recent statements about Israel were anti-Semitic. Those statements include an assertion on July 19 that Israel’s actions in Gaza “surpassed what Hitler did to them.” A few days earlier, a top newspaper in Turkey affiliated with Erdogan called on Turkish Jews to apologize for the actions of Israel’s military in Gaza.

“Each Israeli attack undermines the peace and tranquility of Jews living all around the world and turns them into targets of hate speech,” wrote Volkan Bozkir, a former Turkish ambassador to the European Union and now an Erdogan adviser and legislator who serves as the chairman of the Turkey-USA Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Caucus and the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

He added: “We would therefore recommend that you, instead of trying to silence the legitimate criticisms towards Israel, call on and pressure the Israeli government to put an end to its policies of occupation and destruction. This would be the best and the strongest response to anti-Semitism.”

Bozkir wrote that he was sending the letter to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) at Erdogan’s behest in response to a letter the Turkish prime minister received last week from four co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans. Normally that caucus can be counted on to offer strong support for Turkey, a NATO ally that has had a long-standing relationship with the U.S. military going back to the Cold War.

But on July 29, Reps. Foxx, Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) warned Erdogan that some of his statements about Israel and Jews in general “make it increasingly difficult to communicate in a positive way about Turkey when interacting with our colleagues.”

The State Department has condemned Erdogan’s recent remarks. But Secretary of State John Kerry has worked closely with his Turkish counterparts to reach an Israel-Hamas ceasefire. Unlike Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, Turkey has an open political relationship with Hamas. Some of thegroup’s top leaders reside in Turkey, including Saleh al-Arouri, a man some Israelis suspected of facilitating the June 15 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers that sparked the current round of fighting.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Qatar, and other American “allies”, are among the villains in Gaza

Gatestone Institute, by Alan M. Dershowitz:

American allies, especially Qatar and Turkey, have been providing material support to Hamas, which the United States has listed as a foreign terrorist organization. This support includes financial, diplomatic, media and even the provision of weapons that deliberately target Israeli civilians from behind Palestinian civilians who are used as human shields. It also includes harboring war criminals, especially leaders of Hamas, who direct their followers from the safety of Doha. Without the support of Qatar and Turkey, Hamas would never have started this bloody war that has caused so much human suffering.

Qatar, which is more of a family-owned gas station than a real country, regards itself as untouchable because of its oil wealth. Its residents—they are not really citizens because there are no genuine elections or freedom of speech or religion—are the richest in the world. It can buy anything it wants, including the 2022 World Cup, several American university campuses, some of the world’s greatest art, Al Jazeera television and other luxuries. It can also buy terrorist groups such as Hamas. Indeed, after Iran, which is the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar ranks near the top of this dishonor role of death.

Any individual who provides material support to a designated terrorist group such as Hamas commits a crime under the United States Penal law and the laws of several European countries. If Hamas were ever to be convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, as it may well be, any individual who was an accessory to such crimes would be guilty as well. It is entirely fair, therefore, to describe Qatar as a criminal regime, guilty of accessory to mass murder.

In some ways Turkey is even worse. Its erratic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has incited anti-Semitism, provoked conflict with Israel, provided material support to Hamas and undercut efforts to achieve a realistic end to the Gaza War. He has demanded that his Jewish subjects do his bidding, telling “our Jewish citizens’ leaders” that they must “adopt a firm stance and release a statement against the Israeli government.” He has suggested that if they fail to do so they will not be regarded as “good Turks,” thus raising the old canard of “dual loyalty.”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) gives a warm welcome to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who travelled from Gaza to Turkey on an official visit in January 2012. (Image source: MEMRI)

Erdogan also recently said of Israel that “they always curse Hitler, but they now even exceed him in barbarism.” And he responded to Americans who complain about the “comparisons with Hitler,” by saying “You’re American, what’s Hitler got to do with you,” forgetting that Hitler’s forces killed thousands of American soldiers and civilians. He also conveniently forgets that Turkey, which remained immorally “neutral” in the war against Nazism, provided Hitler with the playbook for his genocide, by its own genocide against Armenians. As Hitler asked rhetorically when planning his genocide: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” So Hitler matters to America, as it should to Turkey, which still mendaciously denies that it committed genocide against the Armenians.

Yet it was Qatar and Turkey to which Secretary of State John Kerry turned in his efforts to get Israel and Hamas to agree to a cease fire. This not only infuriated Israel, which considers these two countries as accessories to Hamas’ war crimes, but also Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, which also see Qatar and Turkey as allies of Hamas and enemies of moderate Arab states.

The time has come for the United States and the international community to reassess the status of Qatar and Turkey. These two countries have become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. A nation that hosts Hamas leaders and finances their terrorism should not also host the World Cup. Nor should American universities send their faculty and students to a nation complicit in terrorism that has taken the lives of many Americans as well as Israelis.

Turkey’s role in NATO must also be reevaluated. Membership in this organization entails certain responsibilities, and Turkey has failed in these responsibilities. They have become untrustworthy partners in the quest for peace.

It is a truism that we, as a nation, must deal with devils, because men and women are not angels. I do not fault Secretary of State Kerry for trying to use Qatar and Turkey to pressure Hamas into accepting a deal, although the deal they ultimately came up with was a bad one. My point is that Qatar’s wealth and Turkey’s size should not preclude us from telling it as it is: Qatar and Turkey are among the worst villains in the Gaza tragedy. Nor should we reward such villains, and such complicit in war crimes, by international gifts, such as the World Cup. Both Qatar and Turkey should be treated as pariahs unless and until they stop becoming state sponsors, supporters and facilitators of terrorism.

Alan Dershowitz’s latest book is “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law”.

Turkish PM Erdogan Top Backer of Hamas

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

Turkey, despite officially being a U.S. ally and member of NATO, deserves blame for the latest missile attacks and kidnappings carried by Hamas.  The Erdogan government is sponsoring Hamas, inciting extremist fervor and is even harboring the terrorist leader that oversees kidnappings in the West Bank.

The latest missile attacks by Hamas were preceded by the kidnapping and execution of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Hamas operatives. The Hamas leader urging kidnappings of Israelis in the West Bank is named Saleh al-Arouri, and he operates from Turkey.

The kidnappings were preceded by a concerted effort by al-Arouri to fund and plan such operations. He may or may not have masterminded this specific attack, but it was the fruition of his orders. Hamas officially denies involvement, but Israel has identifiedthe kidnappers as Hamas terrorists that were previously arrested and released.

Israeli intelligence has reportedly concluded that Turkey has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of $250 million to the terrorist group annually. Another report puts the figure at $300 million. The funding comes from private sources he is close to and not from the official budget. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The report said that Turkey coordinates the fundraising with Qatar, another supposed U.S. ally. Members of Congress have asked Qatar to stop financing Hamas. Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, lives in Qatar and even gave an extremist sermon at its Grand Mosque. The U.S. blocked a $400 million aid package from Qatar to pay 44,000 employees of the Hamas government in Gaza.

The Egyptian government is placing the blame on Hamas, Turkey and Qatar for the continuing conflict. When Egypt proposed a ceasefire, Israel accepted it. Hamas did not, responding with rocket fire and making demands it knows will not be met.

“Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian initiative, at least 40 Palestinian souls would have been saved,” said the Egyptian Foreign Minister.

Turkey responded with its own condemnation of Egypt. Erdogan said Egyptian President El-Sisi is an “illegitimate tyrant.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Turkey, Erdogan, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq

 

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Should Iraq split into thirds (Kurdistan, a Shia division, and a Sunni division), the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood would likely take power.

By J. Millard Burr:

A recent photograph taken 16 April 2014, which appeared in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily, shows an injured ISIL commander Abu Muhammad “allegedly receiving free treatment,” in Turkey’s Hatay State Hospital. It was reported that commander Muhammad was injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Two lawmakers from Turkey’s opposition Republican People¹s Party had the temerity to accuse the government of both “protecting and cooperating with jihadist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front.” The Turkish government was quick to deny the claim.

The appearance of a wounded jihadist commander being treated in a Turkish hospital is a subtle reminder that Turkey is governed by a leading member of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun — the Muslim Brotherhood. It is also a reminder that when one scratches a Muslim Brother, a jihadist bleeds. While it is true that some Brothers, like Ikhwan ideologues Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, will take up the pen rather than take up arms in the movement to revive the Islamic Caliphate, both Ikhwan intellectual and soldier are equally determined. And so too are the Ikhwan’s politicians, people like Erdogan of Turkey, Ghannouchi of Tunisia and Morsi of Egypt, who are determined to re-create Islam’s Caliphate.

Members of the Ikhwan, from its founder Hasan al-Banna to Turkey’s Erdogan, have all been aware that terrorism can be a useful adjunct in the Islamist revolution. It has been used more frequently in that epoch of Arab history that dates from the Muslim world’s rejection of Arab nationalism. Following the death of Nasser (Arab nationalism’s primary sponsor), in the nineteen-seventies a plethora of jihadist branches sprang from the Ikhwan tree. Uniformly, the organizations rejected the Ikhwan’s evolutionary philosophy that had been forced on it by Nasser and then by Egypt’s powerful military caste.

The Islamist movement came to a boil with the war in Afghanistan. It festered with the American presence in the first war in Iraq, and gained strength with the war in the Balkans. In that war, Muslim Brothers Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi and Bosnia’s Izetbegovic, together with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mentor Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011) had played a major role. In the early 1990s, Erbakan and Erdogan served as money launderers and arms purchasers in the Islamist-backed insurgency in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Their activity can be seen as a starting point in what would be a continuing Islamist effort to infiltrate the Turkish polity and dominate its future. Egyptian Muslim Brother Yusuf al-Qaradawi, from his exile in Qatar, Tunisia’s Rashid Ghannouchi, from his exile in London, and the members of the Egyptian Ikhwan at home and in exile, also played part in the Balkan war, though less directly.

Erbakan funeral

Erbakan funeral

Erdogan eulogy of Erbakan, his political (and Ikhwan) mentor, showed he remained in the thrall of such predecessors as the internationalist al-Afghani, the Ikhwan al-Muslimun founder Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood’s terrorist ideologue Sayid Qutb and the Afghan-Arab and Palestinian Ikhwan Abdalla Azzam. Thus, the appearance of an Islamist mujahideen in a Turkish hospital surprised few Turks who had been following developments in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

The genesis of the Arab Spring is found in Tunisia where the previously outlawed Ennahda party — an Ikhwan al-Muslimun institution — came to power following the overthrow of an entrenched secular (and sclerotic) government. Immediately, the jailed jihadists were released. And the former Arab-Afghan mujahideen emerged from hiding. Ironically, the capture of Tunisia’s polity should have been easy were it not for the fact that neither Ghannouchi nor his Ennahda politicians and gunmen showed any leadership.

Read more at American Center for Democracy

 J. Millard Burr is a Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy.

Turkish Support for ISIS

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 18, 2014

N.B. Washington Times title: “Turkey’s support for ISIS Islamist terrorists. Aiding jihadists could put Ankara at odds with Iran”

The battle in Iraq consists of “Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government,” I wrote in a recent article.

Some readers question that the Republic of Turkey has supported the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests, within Turkey, along itsborder with Syria, and in Mosul and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but they can be explained.

First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.

Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:

Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust, and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.

Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.

Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”

Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.

 

Abu Muhammad of ISIS in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014, recovering from wounds received fighting in Syria.

One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.

 

The flag of Rojava, or Syria Kurdistan.

Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.

Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”

Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds.

More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought “anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an “ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.” This has led, he acknowledges, to “some blindness” toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.

 

An Istanbul-based charity (acronym: HİSADER) has adopted the ISIS logo with the Islamic statement of faith.

In the face of this support, the online newspaper Al-Monitor calls on Turkey to close its border to ISIS while Rojava threatened Ankara with “dire consequences” unless Turkish aid ceases.

In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, what with Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. But this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East’s two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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Tens of thousands demand Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia be turned into a mosque

1299668013-z9ura808IPT, by John Rossomando

Tens of thousands of Turkish Islamists held a triumphalist gathering outside Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum on Saturday. Originally built as a cathedral in 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans following the fall of Constantinople in 1453.The former religious site was re-opened as a museum in 1935. The Islamists who prayed at the site on Saturday did so with the hope that it would be converted back into a mosque by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The protest also coincided with the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople on May 29, 1453, an event for which Erdogan has encouraged the celebration.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, converted the massive structure into a museum in 1935.

For Turkey’s Islamists, Hagia Sophia serves as a symbol of Islam’s triumph over Christianity.

“Ayasofya is a symbol for the Islamic world and the symbol of Istanbul’s conquest. Without it, the conquest is incomplete, we have failed to honor Sultan Mehmet’s trust,”Reuters quoted Salih Turan, head of the Anatolia Youth Association, as saying. The association claims it has collected 15 million signatures asking for Hagia Sophia to reopen as a mosque.

Details of the conquest and Hagia Sophia’s conversion from being a church into a mosque stand in stark contrast to the picture of Islam that Islamists want to portray – that of a tolerant and ethical faith. Islamic law might forbid the slaughter of innocent non-combatants during times of war, but that was not what happened in Hagia Sophia the day Constantinople fell.

The late Sir Steven Runicman, widely regarded as one of the greatest scholars of Byzantine history, noted that Ottoman soldiers under Sultan Mehmet’s command entered the cathedral and indiscriminately slaughtered men, women, children and the elderly. Mehmet’s personal imam then climbed into the pulpit to proclaim the shahada, transforming Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Sheik Abdullah Basfar, the imam of the Ka’aba in Mecca, who led Saturday’s prayer gathering outside Hagia Sophia, has a history of extremist rhetoric. In a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he notably stated in September 2005 that funding the Palestinian jihad against Israel was a religious “duty” of all Muslims.

Erdogan’s government, however, says no plans currently exist to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

The world’s 350 million Eastern Orthodox Christians still look to Hagia Sophia as one of the most sacred places in their faith – a reminder of the Christian Byzantine Empire that stood for over 1,000 years.

Hagia Sophia’s place in the Orthodox consciousness was such that a group of American Greek Orthodox Christians similarly and unsuccessfully tried to hold services there in 2010. Talk about converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque has provoked strong condemnation from the Greek government, which issued a statement in November 2013, saying talk about “converting Byzantine Christian churches into mosques [is] offending the religious feeling of millions of Christians.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the world’s most senior Orthodox bishop, similarly condemned the effort, saying it should remain a museum or be reopened as a church.

Transforming Hagia Sophia back into a mosque would necessitate the whitewashing of priceless treasures of Byzantine iconography.

Turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque reinforces the narrative that Muslims seek to subordinate other religions to Islam, and it reinforces the idea of a clash of civilizations.

“It would strengthen the mutual suspicion and polarization between the West and the Muslim world,” Sahin Alpay, professor of political science at Bahcesehir University,told Reuters. “All hell breaking loose is a high price to pay.”