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Turkey Raids Opposition Paper Following Report of ISIS Arms Trade

Turkish police raided the offices of opposition paper Bugün after the publication ran a story that claimed Turkey sent weapons to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. The paper included pictures that allegedly show the weapon exchange.

Authorities said the raid is connected to a tax fraud investigation, but others believe it has to do with the article.

They targeted the building that houses the Koza İpek Holding, which owns numerous publications that are often critical of the government. Police also searched owner Akın İpek’s house. They issued a warrant for his arrest, but he is in exile in Pennsylvania. Today’s Zaman revealed the authorities left the premises with “an envelope with a verse from the Quran and several hadiths along with a cevşen, a book of supplications, and a table that has the first chapter of the Quran carved into its top in Arabic calligraphy as evidence of a crime.”

Editor-in-chief Erhan Başyurt tweeted about the raid on his personal account:

Translation: Silencing the media operation. Police raid the Koza İpek Holding. Added newspapers to the “search companies” list.

An anonymous source told Asharq Al-Awsat the government is attempting to silence the opposition before the November 1 elections.

“The strategy here is to scare us and other news outlets by making an example of us to anyone who dares criticize [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his [ruling Justice and Development] party [AKP],” explained the source.

On Tuesday, the International Business Times reported the Greek coastguard seized a weapons cargo ship off Crete. Local media claimed the ship was aimed at Libya with weapons meant for ISIS.

There is evidence from the past year to show ties between Turkey and ISIS. In June 2014, an ISIS member told the Jerusalem Post that Turkey 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. 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. We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule.

The terrorists captured 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.

A Turkish nurse only known as E.G. complained to authorities that she is tired of treating members of ISIS. She said she is “disturbed” the militants receive treatment in Turkish hospitals even though they hold several Turkish nationals as hostages. She claimed the men check in under false names.

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