Note: new tag for featured writers on DS: Dandelion Salad Featured Writers
“The story of Turkish involvement in transnational jihadism is one of the best kept stories of the war on terror.”
Brian Glyn Williams, associate professor who “has tracked the movement of jihadis for the U.S. military’s Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
A newly released AP article notes that al-Qaida is recruiting many foreign fighters – from Turkey, Central Asia, Chechnya and the Middle East – for the war in Afghanistan. According to the article,
“Turkey appears to have emerged as a source of recruits. Williams estimated as many as 100 Turks had made their way to Pakistan to join the fight in Afghanistan.”
This story directly links to a 1998 DIA report on Al Qaeda’s Central Asia activities obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch which calls the following disclosure a “stunning information point”:
“A good deal of information concerning OBL’s and al Qaeda’s efforts in Chechnya, the Caucuses, Crimea, and the Central Asian Republics is covered in the (report). The confirmed existence of a “direct route to Chechnya from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Turkey and Azerbaijan””
In a related article in November 2007, UK Times covers the case of Turkish Al Qaeda operative, Louai Al-Sakka, an “al-Qaeda Kingpin” who trained the 9/11 hijackers. The article highlights the key role played by Turkey as a center of al-Qaeda-related activities:
“(Sakka’s) ability to keep providing high-quality forged papers made Turkey a main hub for Al-Qaeda movements,” his lawyer says.
Sakka’s lawyer said: “Just like there is money laundering, there is also terrorist laundering and Turkey was the centre of this.””
As mentioned in my earlier piece, a large number of detained and captured terrorists have had Turkish passports – both real and fake. Here is a list of just a few of many documented cases of Turkish terrorists:
* Turkish citizen Soitekin Ollu admitted that he was an active member of an al-Qaeda linked organization from 2001-2005 and had operated in Chechnya (source)
* A German man with a Turkish passport, Zafer Sari, and Turkish-born Adem Yilmaz, both “accused conspirators” in a bomb-making plot in Germany, had received training in Pakistan “to prepare chemical explosives and military-grade detonators” (source)
* Egyptian man, Wael Abdel Rahman Kishk, arrested in 2002 with “a fake Egyptian pilot’s uniform, phony documents identifying him as a pilot and a forged certificate from a Florida flight school” had a fake Turkish passport (source)
* Turkish citizen, Genan Ahmet, was convicted “for organizing several terrorist acts” in Kyrgyzstan in 2000. (source)
Turkey’s involvement in nuclear black-market, illegal weapon trafficking, narcotics, the Islamization of Central Asia, and illegal activities within the US Government are also very well-guarded secrets.
Turkey’s Lead Role in Afghan Heroin Trade is One of the Best Kept Stories of the Wars on Terror & Drugs
According to the State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ 2006 Report:
* Turkey is a major transit route for Southwest Asian opiates to Europe, and serves as a base and refining center for major narcotics traffickers and brokers….
* Turkey is also a base of operations for international narcotics traffickers and associates trafficking in opium, morphine base, heroin, precursor chemicals and other drugs. The majority of these opiates originate in Afghanistan, and are ultimately trafficked to Western Europe.
* Turkey remains a major route, refining center and storage, production and staging area, for the flow of heroin to Europe. Turkish-based traffickers and brokers operate in conjunction with narcotics smugglers, laboratory operators, and money launderers in and outside Turkey. They finance and control the smuggling of opiates to and from Turkey. Afghanistan is the source of most of the opiates reaching Turkey.
* Opiates and hashish also are smuggled to Turkey overland from Afghanistan via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
In 1997, British Home Office Minister Tom stated that 80% of the heroin seized in Britain came from Turkey, and that his government was concerned by reports that members of the Turkish police, and even of the Turkish government, were involved in drug trafficking.
In 1998 France’s Le Monde Diplomatique reported that:
“he MIT (Turkey’s Intelligence agency) itself accuses its rival organisation, Turkey’s national police, of having “provided police identity cards and diplomatic passports to members of a group which, in the guise of anti-terrorist activities, traveled to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Azerbaijan to engage in drug trafficking.
Further, journalist Adrian Gatton quotes Chris Harrison, a senior Customs officer in Manchester, that Customs could not get at the Turkish kingpins because they are “protected” at a high level.
Drug Trafficking Finances Terrorism
With 93% of worldwide heroin supplynow coming from Afghanistan, groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban necessarily benefit from this trade with their Turkish partners. Despite the odd attempts by the US government to cut off money flows to terrorist groups by focusing on charities, most of the funding comes from trafficking in drugs.
* In 2004, the Washington Times quoted Rep. Kirk-IL, a member of the House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee saying:
“We now know Al Qaeda’s dominant source of funding is the illegal sale of narcotics.”
* Time Magazine reported in 2004:
“…al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies are increasingly financing operations with opium sales. Anti-drug officials in Afghanistan have no hard figures on how much al-Qaeda and the Taliban are earning from drugs, but conservative estimates run into tens of millions of dollars.”
Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds summed up the situation in Part Two of her Highjacking of the Nation series:
“We know that Al Qaeda and Taliban’s main source of funding is the illegal sale of narcotics. Based on all the reports, facts, and expert statements, we know that Turkey is a major, if not the top, player in the transportation, processing, and distribution of all the narcotics derived from the Afghan poppies, and as a result, it is the major contributing country to Al Qaeda. Yet, to date, more than five years into our over exhaustive ‘war on terror propaganda’, have we heard any mentioning of, any tough message to, any sanction against, or any threat that was issued and targeted at Turkey?”
Turkey’s Active Participation in Nuclear Black-Market and Illegal Weapon Trafficking is one of the Best Kept Stories of the War on Terror & WMD
* As reported in the New York Times, at least two Turkish businessmen were key suppliers to A.Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation network. Turkey was used to manufacture hardware for the network, and was also used for trans-shipment of nuclear technology on the black market. When authorities intercepted a ship called BBC China as it was delivering nuclear hardware to Libya in 2003, consignments from Turkish Businessman, Gunes Cire and Selim Alguadis, were found on board.
* As far back as 2000, Bill Clinton was forced to halt a deal to supply Turkey with nuclear technology because of Turkey’s role in the nuclear black market.
* In another case covered extensively by the LA Times & PBS: Turkish businessman Zeki Bilmen of Giza Technologies in New Jersey shipped nuclear detonators to the AQ Khan network in Pakistan via South Africa. Both the US mainstream media and the court documents (pdf) in the case, while they named the nationalities of all players and companies involved in this case, they excluded the nationality of Bilmen and Giza Technologies.
* Further proof of Turkey’s involvement in the nuclear black market came in early 2008 in the UK’s Times. The Times reported that:
“Turkish agents in Washington… were selling the information on to (nuclear) black market buyers, including Pakistan.”
* In 2008, Phil Giraldi, former CIA operative stationed in Turkey, discussed Turkey’s role in using:
“falsified end-user certificates on weapons purchased in the United States to enable sales to third countries not allowed access to the technology. Principal recipients include the five “Stans” in central Asia—Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.”
* According to a report by Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEA), at least 104 nuclear smuggling incidents had occurred in the past eight years in Turkey. For instance, in September 1999, 5 Kilograms of Uranium enriched to 4.6 percent were confiscated from an international smuggling ring in Turkey, which included four Turkish, one Azerbaijani, and three Kazakhstani citizens. The report cites over one hundred incidents like this, and these are only cases that have been intercepted and reported.
Turkey’s Operations in Islamization of Central Asia & Balkans via Mosques and Madrassas is one of the Best Kept Stories in US Pipeline Politics
* In 1999, Washington Times reported that:
“Some members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has financed its war effort through the sale of heroin, were trained in terrorist camps run by international fugitive Osama bin Laden…
* Similarly, the Wall Street Journal, Europe reported in 2001:
“For the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade.”
* Turkish organizations such as the Gulen ‘movement,’ a $25 billion economic powerhouse, reportedly financed by the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, has been establishing madrassas and mosques across Central Asia – including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – for the past decade.
The construction and operation of these madrassas and mosques appear to serve a number of purposes:
1. Indoctrination and radicalization of students
2. Providing a front for CIA and State Department-sanctioned ‘teachers’ to operate with the protection of Diplomatic passports.
* The Gulen movement itself has “a university, eleven high schools, one primary school and nine education facilities training university applicants” in Azerbaijan, while the Turkish government itself is “sponsoring Islamic educational projects” featuring “a specifically Turkish form of Islam in this Shi‘a majority country.”
* We see the same pattern of mosque building in Kazakhstan. Wikipedia states that:
“Construction of mosques and religious schools accelerated in the 1990s, with financial help from Turkey, Egypt, and, primarily, Saudi Arabia.”
* And we see more of the same in Turkmenistan:
“Since 1990… More religious institutions, including religious schools and mosques, have appeared, many with the support of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey.”
The US government support and use of Turkey as a proxy in Central Asia and the Islamization activities in these ex-Soviet States have been guarded as State Secrets and “covert operations.” I covered this operation and Gulen’s movement in my two previous pieces here and here.
An FBI whistleblower case involving Turkey and Central Asia is one of the most gagged and Best Kept Secrets
Here is how the US government ensured that Edmonds’ case involving Turkey and Central Asia remains a best kept secret:
* The US Justice Dept invoked the State Secrets Privilege on Edmonds case in 2002. Here is the press release from the DoJ announcing the decision.
* The US Justice Dept invoked the State Secrets Privilege a second time in 2003 (pdf) when Sibel was subpoenaed in a 911-related civil case. The Justice Department quashed the subpoena in an emergency motion “in order to protect the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.”
* New York Times front page story in 2003 reports: Justice Department Gags Congress in Sibel Edmonds case. Senator Grassley said, “This is about as close to a gag order as you can get.”
* When the FBI’s Inspector General issued a report which vindicated Sibel’s case, it was immediately classified. A redacted version of the report which was recently released (pdf) is 90% blacked out. A recent NPR report on Sibel’s case calls this document a “must read.”
* The media and the public are barred from Edmonds’ court appeal, reported Washington Post in 2005. “The court’s unusual decision to close arguments prompted a challenge by Edmonds’s attorneys. That challenge was supported by news organizations, including the Associated Press. ”
Turkey & Central Asia: Best Kept Secrets
Major stories and cases involving Turkey and Central Asia, whether it is Turkish militants entering Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda, or Turkish operatives involved in Islamization and radicalization in Central Asia via mosques and madrassas, or the Turkish dealers running heroin trade and nuclear black market operations, or a US citizen and FBI whistleblower whose case involves Turkish and Central Asian targets in the US, are always, as Professor Williams says, Best Kept Stories.