INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, by Nafeez Ahmed, Nov. 19, 2015:
“We stand alongside Turkey in its efforts in protecting its national security and fighting against terrorism. France and Turkey are on the same side within the framework of the international coalition against the terrorist group ISIS.”
Statement by French Foreign Ministry, July 2015
The 13th November Paris massacre will be remembered, like 9/11, as a defining moment in world history.
The murder of 129 people, the injury of 352 more, by ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) acolytes striking multiple targets simultaneously in the heart of Europe, mark a major sea-change in the terror threat.
For the first time, a Mumbai-style attack has occurred on Western soil — the worst attack on Europe in decades. As such, it has triggered a seemingly commensurate response from France: the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1961 Algerian war.
ISIS has followed up with threats to attack Washington and New York City.
Meanwhile, President Hollande wants European Union leaders to suspend the Schengen Agreement on open borders to allow dramatic restrictions on freedom of movement across Europe. He also demands the EU-wide adoption of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system allowing intelligence services to meticulously track the travel patterns of Europeans, along with an extension of the state of emergency to at least three months.
Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat.
“We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries,” said the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “We are going to live with this terrorist threat for a long time.”
Hollande plans to strengthen the powers of police and security services under new anti-terror legislation, and to pursue amendments to the constitution that would permanently enshrine the state of emergency into French politics. “We need an appropriate tool we can use without having to resort to the state of emergency,” he explained.
Parallel with martial law at home, Hollande was quick to accelerate military action abroad, launching 30 airstrikes on over a dozen Islamic State targets in its de facto capital, Raqqa.
France’s defiant promise, according to Hollande, is to “destroy” ISIS.
The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance.
Mass surveillance at home and endless military projection abroad are the twin sides of the same coin of national security, which must simply be maximized as much as possible.
“France is at war,” Hollande told French parliament at the Palace of Versailles.
“We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”
The friend of our enemy is our friend
Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war, however, was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship.
Syrian passports discovered near the bodies of two of the suspected Paris attackers, according to police sources, were fake, and likely forged in Turkey.
Earlier this year, the Turkish daily Meydan reported citing an Uighur source that more than 100,000 fake Turkish passports had been given to ISIS. The figure, according to the US Army’s Foreign Studies Military Office (FSMO), is likely exaggerated, but corroborated “by Uighurs captured with Turkish passports in Thailand and Malaysia.”
Further corroboration came from a Sky News Arabia report by correspondent Stuart Ramsey, which revealed that the Turkish government was certifying passports of foreign militants crossing the Turkey-Syria border to join ISIS. The passports, obtained from Kurdish fighters, had the official exit stamp of Turkish border control, indicating the ISIS militants had entered Syria with full knowledge of Turkish authorities.
The dilemma facing the Erdogan administration is summed up by the FSMO: “If the country cracks down on illegal passports and militants transiting the country, the militants may target Turkey for attack. However, if Turkey allows the current course to continue, its diplomatic relations with other countries and internal political situation will sour.”
This barely scratches the surface. A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer from a major raid on an ISIS safehouse told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”
The same official confirmed that Turkey, a longstanding member of NATO, is not just supporting ISIS, but also other jihadist groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. “The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”
In a rare insight into this brazen state-sponsorship of ISIS, a year agoNewsweek reported the testimony of a former ISIS communications technician, who had travelled to Syria to fight the regime of Bashir al-Assad.
The former ISIS fighter told Newsweek that Turkey was allowing ISIS trucks from Raqqa to cross the “border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February.” ISIS militants would freely travel “through Turkey in a convoy of trucks,” and stop “at safehouses along the way.”
The former ISIS communication technician also admitted that he would routinely “connect ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions,” adding that “the people they talked to were Turkish officials… ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks.”
In January, authenticated official documents of the Turkish military were leaked online, showing that Turkey’s intelligence services had been caught in Adana by military officers transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition via truck “to the al-Qaeda terror organisation” in Syria.
According to other ISIS suspects facing trial in Turkey, the Turkish national military intelligence organization (MIT) had begun smuggling arms, including NATO weapons to jihadist groups in Syria as early as 2011.
The allegations have been corroborated by a prosecutor and court testimony of Turkish military police officers, who confirmed that Turkish intelligence was delivering arms to Syrian jihadists from 2013 to 2014.
Documents leaked in September 2014 showed that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan had financed weapons shipments to ISIS through Turkey. A clandestine plane from Germany delivered arms in the Etimesgut airport in Turkey and split into three containers, two of which were dispatched to ISIS.
A report by the Turkish Statistics Institute confirmed that the government had provided at least $1 million in arms to Syrian rebels within that period, contradicting official denials. Weapons included grenades, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft guns, firearms, ammunition, hunting rifles and other weapons — but the Institute declined to identify the specific groups receiving the shipments.
Information of that nature emerged separately. Just two months ago, Turkish police raided a news outlet that published revelations on how the local customs director had approved weapons shipments from Turkey to ISIS.
Turkey has also played a key role in facilitating the life-blood of ISIS’ expansion: black market oil sales. Senior political and intelligence sources in Turkey and Iraq confirm that Turkish authorities have actively facilitated ISIS oil sales through the country.
Last summer, Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, an MP from the main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, estimated the quantity of ISIS oil sales in Turkey at about $800 million — that was over a year ago.
By now, this implies that Turkey has facilitated over $1 billion worth of black market ISIS oil sales to date.