Turkey Exposed: Support for Al Qaida elements in Syria tied to ‘brainwashing’ in border areas -
ANKARA — A leading human rights organization has urged Turkey to stop aiding Al Qaida-aligned rebels in Syria.
The Human Rights Association said Al Qaida militias in Syria were using Turkey for recruitment and financing. In a report, the association urged the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to crack down on Al Qaida activities, particularly that of the Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant.
“The clear and present danger directed against the people of Turkey with the capture of cities in Syria by jihadist organizations such as Al Qaida and Nusra should be taken into consideration, and a new policy should be developed on this issue,” the report, titled “Research and Assessment of Turkey’s Borders,” said.
The report, released on Oct. 11, said Turkey would be endangered by its tolerance of Al Qaida activities for Syria. HRA said the Turkish intelligence community and other authorities must end Islamist rebel recruitment, conducted by a range of foreign elements including from Pakistan.
The report said Al Qaida was indoctrinating and recruiting young Turkish Muslims to fight in Syria. HRA said the Al Qaida activists were working in such provinces as Adiyaman, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa.
“There are certain places in Turkey where Al Qaida jihadists are brainwashing men,” the report quoted a local official as saying. “I know of eight to 10 families that complained to us of this, and we saved a few of them.”
The report came amid allegations by the United States that Turkey was working with Al Qaida-aligned militias in Syria. A leading U.S. newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, said President Barack Obama has demanded that Erdogan end support for the militias, which led to a decline in relations between the two leaders.
HRA said Turkish control of the 900-kilometer border with Turkey has been poor. The researchers said Army patrols were infrequent, and that
Nusra, with the help of Syrian refugees, operated only meters away from the Syrian border with Turkey.
“I asked the governor to deport those behind the unrest in the [Turkish refugee camp] and he said, ‘We do not think this is justified,’” the report quoted an exchange with a senior Turkish official.
Based on a visit by a seven-member association delegation at the Turkish-Syrian border on Oct. 5-7, the report said prosecutors must be ordered to investigate alleged Al Qaida operatives in Turkish refugee camps and other areas. The report said Nusra and other Al Qaida-aligned militias have co-opted fighters of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army along the Turkish border.