Turkish authorities arrested ten Westerners and four Russians who attempted to cross into Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
“The detainees were transferred to the foreign office of the Turkish police to be deported from the country,” stated the Media Office in the state of Gaziantep, which is in the south of the country.
The arrests occurred one day after authorities arrested nine Britons (three men, two women, four children) who wanted to join ISIS and two days after they arrested a Belgian national. Due to the high number of Britons traveling through Turkey to reach Syria, the authorities from each country banded together to catch terrorists.
“This was apparent when many Brittish [sp] citizens were stopped in several airports and border points across Turkey,” said Turkish journalist Burhan Yildiz. “They were prevented from entering Syrian territory.”
Yildiz explained that Turkey wants to “improve its image” with the West. Since Syria collapsed into a civil war four years ago, journalists documented the many ways terrorists entered Syria through Turkey, which chose the side of the rebels against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Turkey is facing accusations regarding facilitating paths for jihadists to cross its border into Syria as well as providing the Islamic State radical group (IS/ISIS) with a fertile environment for movement on its borders,” explained Yildiz.
An ISIS fighter told The Jerusalem Post that Turkey, a member of NATO, provides funds for the terrorist group.
“Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large [numbers] of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey,” said the man, who was not identified. “We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon.”
The terrorists took over Azaz, a key town in Syria near the border of Turkey in September 2013. That is significant because Turkey “vocally supported the fight against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and allowed weapons to cross into Syria on its southern border.” The capture of Azaz allowed easier access to the jihadists. Two months later, CNN featured Turkey’s secret jihadi route to Syria.
The pivot to Russian Muslims follows months of recruitment among Chechnya’s Muslim community. Among the Islamic State’s most revered military leaders is Omar al-Shishani, “Omar the Chechen,” who is believed to be in charge of much of ISIS’s military strategy in Iraq and Syria. The fair-skinned, red-haired militant sticks out in videos and photos distributed by the terrorist group. Murad Margoshvili, also known as Muslem al-Shishani, is another Chechen figure in ISIS and “has a Che Guevara status” in Syria.