Turkey is the export-hub for detonating cords; a crucial component for IEDs used by ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra affiliates
International explosive manufacturers, based in Spain, India, and Australia, establish partnerships, or simply acquire local companies in Turkey, only to re-export their detonating cords to ISIS and other Salafi jihadists that are aligned with Jabhat al Nusra. Meanwhile, Turkey’s fanatically anti-Assad government seemingly turns a blind eye to the shipment of IED materials, and allegedly orchestrates it according to a local court’s bill of indictment, through former military and police personnel. READ MORE
29-year-old C.A. was born and raised in Ankara’s infamous Hacibayram district, where he first met al-Qaeda associated Salafist missionaries during his teenage years. After he became a drug addict in his late childhood, his life changed drastically. “Once my mind turned to drugs, I gave up on everything. I started heroin in 2002. One thing leads to another, you know? First, I took up pills, then cocaine. I kept increasing the dose and finally ended up with heroin. But I gave up all drugs in the Islamic State,” he says. In February 2014, over a decade of Salafist preaching convinced him to leave Turkey for Syria, to join ISIS as a fighter. READ MORE
Estranged from his family and ravaged by a drug habit for most of his adult life, Murat reckoned he had nothing to lose the day he left his home in Ankara for the self-proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State (IS). As he crossed the Syrian border in full view of Turkish troops in February 2014, Murat concluded that his own government was equally nonchalant about his future. When the 29-year-old returned home late last month, he discovered that the rules of engagement along Turkey’s border had changed. Apprehended by the Turkish military within minutes of his crossing, Murat was arrested and charged with membership in a terrorist organization. READ MORE
The night Rasid Tugral vanished from his home in the Turkish capital of Ankara, the 26-year-old packed no suitcase, stuffed less than €100 of cash into his pockets and left his treasured DSLR camera to gather dust on the bedroom floor. For three months, it seemed the astrophysics student had simply disappeared from Turkey’s elite Middle East Technical University, where he was known as a raffish extrovert with a love for astrophotography and the works of cosmologist Carl Sagan. But in March this year Rasid posted to his Facebook a sprawling, 14-page diary chronicling life among militants of the self-declared Islamic State, or Isis. The diary provides a unique glimpse into the everyday miseries of life in Isis-held Syria and the psychological toll of air strikes on new recruits. READ MORE
The predecessors in Hacibayram district had left their country due to the escalated civil war between opposition groups and al-Assad regime, onwards 2011 when the battle lines were drawn. Yet, most of those who recently come to Ankara from Azaz, had to become refugees because of ISIS aggression. And apparently, those refugees from Syria pay rents to ISIS fighters who made them flee from their own country. Newcomers desperate to find some shelter for themselves, had to take sanctuary in half-wrecked tiny houses which were forcefully seized by ISIS sympathizers in the neighborhood. In accordance with the urban renewal project in force, the previous owners had abandoned their houses to municipality. The draft plan was to demolish the houses as soon as their property rights were transferred to the municipality. Despite the municipality bulldozes one or two house every now and then, the mass demolition postponed until all the title deeds are collected. Meanwhile, ISIS sympathizers forcefully seized the houses –or what is left in the neighborhood– and started demanding rents from refugees from Syria, taking shelter in Hacibayram. The war combined with the urban renewal project, pro-ISIS families now have another source of income by renting those houses they seized. Thus, refugees from Syria weren’t able to choose anything but strengthen the vicious cycle that compelled thousands of families leaving their lands, by simply sponsoring the cross-border journeys and livelihoods of part-time ISIS jihadists nested in Hacibayram, through rents paid. READ MORE
During his 2-day Ankara visit in December 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron underlined Turkey and UK’s “shared view” against terrorism, despite diplomatic circles in the Turkish capital suggested otherwise. Cameron in fact was frustrated and furious at Turkey for swapping 180 ISIS fighters –in which there were 2 British jihadists amongst– in return for 59 Turkish diplomats captured at ISIS’ raid to Turkish Embassy in Mosul in June 11. At the joint press conference held after that meeting, former minister of foreign affairs, now PM Davutoglu enunciated bold claims: “Our stance against international terrorism, regardless of its location, is clear. We are unanimous with PM Cameron on many matters.” Yet, it appears that providing logistic support to armed groups is not amongst the issues they share the same opinion on, considering ceaseless and abiding rumors Turkey supplying arms and ammunition, and have been providing shelter and medical care for Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusra, factions of the Islamic Front, and ISIS, in chronological order. READ MORE
If you’re in Gaziantep—a southeastern town of Turkey, which shares a land border with Syria—during the summer of 2014 when Syria’s multifaceted armed conflict reached its peak, and someone admits he is running a network offering free medical treatment to Syrian jihadists, you better take him seriously.“On an ordinary day, I work almost 15 hours. The job gives me inner peace and clear conscience, so I never feel tired at all,” says Sait Gokdere. The 56-year-old man is one of the coordinators at the medical network based out of Gaziantep, designated for jihadists wounded either during the Islamic Front’s (the umbrella organization for anti-Assad armed factions in Syria) battles against ISIS, or aerial bombardments by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in Syria. READ MORE
Mahmoud, a 10-year-old boy who used to live in Aleppo before the civil war in Syria, asks me why the locals of Gaziantep, where he now lives, attacked him the night before. He points at his fractured arm and collarbone, then some stiches below the bandages. His two brothers were also hurt. Luckily, there were friendly neighbors around to protect them, and they all pulled through angry mobs cruising the streets of Gaziantep looking for refugees to batter rather lightly. Gaziantep – a southeastern town of Turkey, which shares a land border with Syria – has been a safe haven for the Syrians fleeing from the long-lasting civil war in that modern-day exodus for 3 years now. Controlled by FSA (Free Syrian Army) for a long time, Northern Syria witnessed the destruction caused by each and every party involved, including but not limited to the armed action of FSA factions, al-Assad’s bombardments, aggression of Al-Nusra Front, and most recently, the atrocities of the ISIS. READ MORE
On June 1, the second day of Turkey’s nationwide protests that began in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Ethem Sarisülük, a laborer and human-rights activist, was shot in the head by a policeman in Ankara. After spending 13 days in intensive care, Ethem’s heart stopped, and his family announced his death on June 14. Ten days later, Ahmet Şahbaz, the police officer who killed Ethem, was released from jail by a judge on the grounds that he acted in self-defense, a move that was greeted with a lot of anger on social media and in the streets. (Ahmet’s trial was suspended by a judge last week, and advocates criticized this as another way the government was helping to protect the police.) READ MORE
After studying Economics at Middle East Technical University, I started working as a reporter at Cumhuriyet Daily in 2011, and in late 2012 I launched the witness storytelling platform Turkiye’den Siddet Hikayeleri. In 2013, I began writing columns, and then working as a full-time reporter for Daily Birgun (Click here for personal archive in Turkish), based out of Ankara. I mainly write international conflict, non-state violent organizations, and radicalization. Political-economy of environment and energy, and human rights are among my other professional fields of interest. I am an alumnus and research fellow of the AHDA Program of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University in the City of New York. I pursue an amateur rugby career too; I have been a part of Ankara-based ODTU SK‘s setup for 7 years, and played for New York City side Gotham Knights RFC for a season, and participated in Turkish Rugby Union National Team’s several international test matches.
TÜRKİYE’DEN ŞİDDET HİKAYELERİ
Inactive since late 2013, Türkiye’den Şiddet Hikayeleri (Eng. Violence Stories from Turkey), aimed revealing the violence on citizens, allowed or perpertated by the state itself. While it was active, the project reached millions of eyeball counts due to its particular form, designed to be easily disseminated online. In 2015, Türkiye’den Şiddet Hikayeleri will, hopefully, be reactivated.
Ayrinti Dergi is a periodical (published in every 2 months) in Turkish, mainly composed of articles with socialist notions, and detailed news stories on recent developments in the Middle East and Turkey. Additional to writing research articles, I also serve as a member of consultative board of the journal which celebrates its first year of publication.
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