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The evidence is mounting that not only are foreign al Qaeda-linked jihadis flooding in to Syria from Turkey but that the Turkish government's blind eye to this "pipeline" has led to an almost out of control situation.
But then again, this is how it works in the Muslim world - it was only about 6 of 7 short years ago that Bashir Assad in Syria was allowing his country to be used as a pipeline for the al Qaeda types to enter Iraq to battle American troops there in the Iraq War.
I guess what goes around, comes around, eh?
The story comes from The Telegraph.
Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses
Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage “jihad” in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters - including Britons - to join the country’s civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.
These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the “moderate” wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda’s ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria’s civil war.
Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning - and its government has been assumed to share the West’s concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits - or may even be turning a blind eye.
”Every day there are Mujahideen coming here from all different nationalities,” said Abu Abdulrahman, a Jordanian volunteer managing the flow of foreign fighters. He handles a network of receiving centres in southern Turkey for volunteers wishing to join al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, known as “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL).
He spoke from inside an al-Qaeda safe house, using the Skype account of an intermediary and with volunteers from several countries, including Britain, listening in.
Once the volunteer reaches Turkey, there are “procedures” before he can join al-Qaeda, explained Abu Abdulrahman: “If you want to enter, you have to be a proper Muslim. We have to research you to make sure you are not a spy. If you are foreign, someone in our network needs to recommend you,” he said.
These hideouts are generally apartments rented under false names in villages along Turkey’s frontier with Syria. The recruits sometimes wait for weeks until they are cleared to cross the border. The homes are also used as “rest houses” for al-Qaeda fighters from the frontline in Syria.
Perhaps 10,000 foreign fighters may now be in Syria, according to analysts. Some are hardened veterans of the Iraq war; others are young “first-time jihadists” - with a significant proportion from Western countries.
Abu Abdullah, an Australian volunteer, said that he left to fight in Syria because a “Western lifestyle stands against Islam”. He was also repelled by the atrocities of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“When you see the women and children - any human being - being shot or raped or killed in front of their fathers and families, just because they pray to Allah, you have to be moved by the humanity of it. Prophet Mohammed said if one part of the body is wounded, then the whole body is sleepless. If just one person is injured and something goes against Islam, we must react.”
But Abu Abdullah faltered as he tried to recall a passage from the Koran: “I am sorry, I am not the most knowledgeable of Muslims. Allah forgive me for that,” he said.
Charles Lister, from IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, said: “There are strong suggestions that the number of foreign jihadists in Syria is increasing. Definitely taking a look at the nature of ISIL presence, the geographical spread of foreigners is expanding. This is likely to do with the ease with which recruits can cross the border.”
Another analyst said that Turkey was “turning a blind eye” to the number of foreign fighters entering Syria across its territory, including through Antakya, the capital of the border province of Hatay. The result, he added, was that jihadists had become a “thorn” in Turkey’s side, seizing de facto control of towns and villages near the border.
Turkish officials vehemently deny this, blaming the influx on the failure of the international community to settle the Syrian war. “We have never been soft on this issue. We do not tolerate the presence of extremists and terrorist elements on our soil,” said one Turkish official. “If jihadists have crossed, it has been without our knowledge and out of our control. The presence of extremists in Syria is a common concern for Turkey and other countries - and the reason why the numbers of jihadists continues to grow in Syria is because of the failure of the international community to solve the crises at hand.”
The official appealed to foreign countries not to "just point the blame" at Turkey, and to work to tighten surveillance on citizens that might want to travel to Syria: "Unless we are given information that these people are al-Qaeda members, people from a terrorist organisation, what legal basis do we have to stop them if they travel on a valid passport?"
Turkish police are seeking to close down the al-Qaeda safe houses, running raids on the apartments when intelligence about an al-Qaeda presence is gleaned. And the Turkish authorities have started improving the quality of border controls. But with more than 560 miles of shared frontier between Turkey and Syria, and with the sheer number of foreign jihadists arriving in the country, they have, so far, been unable to stem the pipeline. If the police detain someone, they are unable to imprison them or send deport them back to a home country because it is difficult to prove that they are an ISIL member, one jihadi gloated.
In the border town of Kilis, three hours drive from Antakya, jihadists feel comfortable enough to sip coffee in the lobbies of hotels murmuring quietly to their colleagues. This week the Telegraph spoke to one a member of ISIL in one of these hotels. Whether Turkey wants to or not, "she has been very good to us," the jihadi, who wouldn't be named, said, with a wink.