Recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, facilitation of their cross-border movement into Syria and the supply of weapons to the terrorist groups active there
Reportedly, representatives of ISIL — with help from the Turkish intelligence services — have established an extensive network in Antalya for the recruitment of individuals who have arrived in Turkey from the post-Soviet States, to enable their participation in the Syrian conflict and possible transfer to Russia.
The group of recruiters consists of a Kyrgyzstan national named Abdullah; a native of Adygea named Azmet; a native of Tatarstan named Elnar; a Russian Federation national named Ilyas; an Azerbaijan national named Adil Aliev; and a native of Karachay-Cherkessia named Nizam. They are led by a Russian Federation national, Ruslan Rastyamovich Khaibullov (also known as Baris Abdul or by the pseudonym “The Teacher”), born on 1 April 1978 in Tatarstan. He lives with his family in Antalya. He has a Turkish permanent residence permit.
Recruitment takes place with the knowledge of the temporary detention centre administration. If a detainee agrees to accept Islam and engage in terrorist activity, the recruiters promise to “do a deal” with the Turkish law enforcement agencies and offer, free of charge, the services of a Turkish lawyer, Tahir Tosolar. Sultan Kekhursaev, a Chechen who is a Turkish national, has also made visits for the same purpose to detention centres where foreigners are held.
In September 2015 a group of more than 1,000 ISIL fighters who had come from countries in Europe and Central Asia were taken from Turkey to Syria through the border crossing at Alikaila (Gaziantep).
The routes for the movement of fighters pass very close to the Turkish-Syrian border through Antakya, Reyhanlı, Topaz, Şanlıurfa and Hatay.
In March 2014 the head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Mr. H. Fidan, coordinated the transfer of a large ISIL unit headed by Mahdi al-Kharati, a Libyan national . The fighters were taken by sea from Libya to Syria through the Barsai crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Since late December 2015, with the assistance of the Turkish intelligence services, arrangements have been made for an air route for moving ISIL fighters from Syria through Turkey to Yemen using Turkish military air transport. An alternative means of transporting fighters is by sea to the Yemeni port of Aden.
Russian Federation nationals who maintain contact with representatives of the security, police and administrative authorities in a number of Turkish cities, including Istanbul, are involved in recruitment through Turkish madrasas.
It is well known that wounded ISIL fighters are being provided with places to rest and receive treatment in areas of Turkey bordering Syria. At least 700 fighters were recuperating in Gaziantep in 2014.
Reportedly, beginning in 2015, Turkish intelligence services assisted in the removal from Antalya to Eskişehir of what was termed a “Tatar Village”, which houses ethnic Tatar fighters and accomplices of the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusrah who are natives of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Mordovia. Some of them are dual Russian-Turkish nationals.
One of the people actively involved in the Village is Timur Maunirovich Bichurin, a Russian national born on 15 December 1969 who is a native of Kazan and since January 2014 has been acting as an accomplice, helping Islamists fighting in Syria.
In December 2014, Turkish intelligence services helped to set up camps in Turkey, particularly in Hatay Province, to gather illegal migrants and provide training in preparation for the dispatch of extremist gangs to Syria. In January 2015, the Turkish MIT was involved in the operation to merge three terrorist bands, Osman Gazi, Omer bin Abdulaziz and Omer Mukhtar, into a group called the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade, of which Omer Abdullah was appointed commander. The members of this group are trained in a camp in Bayır-Bucak in Turkey under the leadership of instructors from special operations units of the Turkish Armed Forces general command and MIT personnel. The activities of the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade are coordinated with the activities of Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters in the north of the Syrian province of Latakia.
It is well known that on 21 September 2015, in the Syrian town of Tell Rifaat, representatives of the Syrian opposition who had received military training at a camp in Kırşehir in Turkey had delivered weapons to Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters.
Deliveries of weapons to terrorist groups in Syria are reportedly still taking place, profiting from the facilities of Turkish-based foundations İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH — Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), İmkander and Öncü Nesil İnsani Yardım Derneği.
Supplies of various forms of weapons, military equipment and ammunition are arriving from abroad via the Turkish port of İskenderun. Military equipment and supplies are transported from there through Hatay Province (Öncüpinar border crossing) to Aleppo and Idlib in Syria using vehicles belonging to IHH, İmkander and Öncü Nesil with the following Turkish registrations: 33 SU 317, 06 DY 7807, 33 SU 540, 33 SU 960, 42 GL 074 and 31 R 5487. Within Syria, the weapons and ammunition are distributed to Turkmen gangs and Jabhat al-Nusrah units.
On 15 September 2014, representatives of IHH brought supplies of weapons and medicines from Bursa through the Ceylanpınar border crossing (Reyhanlı district) by vehicle into Syria for ISIL groups. This shipment was followed and escorted through Turkey by a vehicle carrying MIT personnel.