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 [1]. 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.

Turkish Answer

The note attached to the letter of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation is composed of baseless allegations.

Becoming a direct party in the Syrian conflict, Russia has been responsible for civilian deaths, havoc and destruction in Syria in proportions and effectiveness that can only be matched by the regime.

Independent studies confirm that the Russian Federation accounts for up to 70 per cent of civilian deaths that are taking place in Syria. Since its military involvement began in Syria on 30 September 2015, Russian air strikes have already claimed over 1,300 lives. Ninety per cent of these victims are civilians. The attacks left over 2,000 people wounded. A note pointing out these casualties in further detail is enclosed to the present note (enclosure I).

Russia today is also directly responsible for the indiscriminate and total destruction of civilian infrastructure, another common denominator with the regime’s practices. This, too, adds to the humanitarian tragedy at a time when the international community is desperately trying to get sustained humanitarian aid to the Syrian people living under besieged areas also in relation to Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which the Russian Federation helped draft, but effectively blocked the implementation thereof.

Deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, food stocks, water and electricity distribution networks amounts to war crimes.

Russia entered the Syrian theatre under the pretext of fighting Daesh/ISIL and terrorism. After over 8,000 strikes, 90 per cent of which targeted the opposition elements, there is not a single shred of evidence that Russian strikes made any impact against Daesh/ISIL. Terrorism has grown and spread.

The baseless allegations against Turkey, hosting the more than 2.5 million Syrians, are being levelled by Russia against this backdrop. Russia’s and the regime’s continued attacks since the cessation of hostilities put the entire political process at risk and therefore carry the potential for additional mass movement of Syrians in literally tens of thousands to our borders.

If the Russian Federation is serious about fighting terrorism, it should move its focus on the regime in a serious effort to get the political process to become functional. The Russian Federation’s current course is only adding fuel to the fire by also directly participating in the conflict by raising the level and intensity of the violence. The only way out of this vicious cycle is ensuring a genuine political transition on the basis of the Geneva communiqué.

Turkey has a commendable track record in terms of countering the threat of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), as well as showing close and transparent cooperation with all countries. A detailed note on our efforts to counter the FTF threat is attached (enclosure II). Ironically, Turkey has intercepted potential FTFs with Russian connections and informed the latter about their deportation numerous times in spite of the lack of cooperation by the Government of the Russian Federation, which is contrary to its own declared interests. Furthermore, news reports regarding Russians travelling to Syria to join Daesh/ISIL with their Government’s approval remain a great concern.

Russia’s allegations are directed to shift the focus of the international community’s attention from its actions and the real issue, which is ending the conflict in Syria. We invite Russia to live up to the responsibility that Security Council membership entails.

Source : UN S/2016/143 and S/2016/224

[1Probably Mahdi al-Harati, the famous CIA spy with double nationaly from Libya and Ireland, Note by the Voltaire Network.