The indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office revealed ISIS’s Khorasan organization and its activities in Turkey. ISIS uses Turkey as a base.
Although ISIS pursued a policy of retreating to the desert and going underground after losing territory in Syria and Iraq, it has focused on strengthening its extensions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in the last five years. It was documented during the investigation process against the organization that the organization used Turkey as a base in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran “to organize for the caliphate to prevail”. In addition to militants from Turkey, Central Asian ISIS fighters are harbored in various cities in Turkey, particularly Istanbul, and then transported across the Iranian border with fake Afghan IDs to ISIS’s so-called ‘Khorasan’ extension.
In Istanbul, A.C., a Tajik national who is the Khorasan officer of ISIS, was responsible for welcoming militants coming to Turkey from Central Asian countries at train stations and bus terminals, placing them in hotels and safe houses, providing financial resources, supplying weapons to ISIS members to be used as suicide bombers on the instructions of Afghanistan, contacting organizations and networks to issue fake IDs and passports, and crossing the Iranian border.
Former Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had criticized the closure of European countries’ consulates in Istanbul for security reasons following the burning of the Quran in front of the Grand Mosque in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, last January, calling it a “psychological warfare” and stating that Turkey was successfully continuing its fight against ISIS.
However, according to the indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, ISIS militants reconnoitered the area, shot videos and prepared three ISIS fighters of Caucasian (Azeri and Chechen) origin, who were held in a safe house in Istanbul, as suicide bombers to attack the Swedish and Dutch consulates after the burning of the Koran in Stockholm. Due to delays in the procurement of firearms and bombs to be used in the attack, the attack was canceled at the last minute in case of a possible leak.
LOST INFLUENCE IN SYRIA AND IRAQ, STRENGTHENED IN AFGHANISTAN
With the loss of Baghuz, ISIS’ last piece of territory, its territorial dominance in Syria has come to an end. This has led to speculation that ISIS has been defeated and that the end has come, but it was often stated that the organization had analyzed desert regions for a possible collapse scenario and turned them into a large refuge for itself during its periods of strength.
As a matter of fact, after the last territorial loss in the region, ISIS retreated to the Meyadin-Resafa-Ithriya-Tedmür region in Syria, which consists of desert and hills. After this process, it clashed with the Syrian state elements that followed it and deployed in the desert. Although the organization lost both its economic and militant power, thanks to the geography suitable for hiding, it suffered few casualties and gathered strength for new attacks. During the disintegration process, Turkey became a country of refuge for the organization’s militants. The organization continues to restructure and strengthen itself in Turkey through both Turkish and foreign militants. While ISIS strives to gain financial/military/military strength in the desert in Syria, it also seeks to find strength in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Chechnya, Mali, Uganda and Sudan.
CENTRAL ASIANS IN HORASAN STRUCTURING FOUND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The Khorasan branch of ISIS, which operates in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, is known as one of the “deadliest” branches of the organization.
Khorasan is named after the region in present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. When defining the borders of Khorasan, the organization refers to parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Central Asia and Iran.
Since its establishment in 2015, ISIS Khorasan has killed or wounded thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has also carried out attacks in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. ISIS Khorasan aims to control territory in “Khorasan” to establish a province in ISIS’ self-declared caliphate.
TURKEY IS A BASE COUNTRY FOR SENDING FIGHTERS TO AFGHANISTAN
Turkey is used as a recruitment base for the Khorasan branch of the organization.
In addition to militants from Turkey, militants from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) are organized by the Afghanistan branch of the organization through social media. Militants who want to go to Afghanistan arrive in Turkey by air. Among the militants who cross the Syrian border illegally and continue their lives in Turkey after having fought in ISIS ranks in Syria, especially those who have expertise in warfare and explosives go to Afghanistan when called upon. They also provide weapons to militants preparing for suicide bombings.
DEPORTED MILITANTS ENTER TURKEY WITH FAKE PASSPORTS
The indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and accepted in recent days revealed ISIS’s Khorasan organization and its activities in Turkey. The indictment, which includes intelligence information from MİT and the FBI as well as the testimonies of the defendants, has documented the presence of ISIS in Turkey and the use of Turkey as a “base country” for ISIS’s organization in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
According to the indictment, ISIS militants who were to cross to Afghanistan via Iran were welcomed by local militants when they arrived in Turkey and placed in hotels around Fatih, Aksaray and Kumkapı in Istanbul (Hotel Paris-Hotel Metropol 2-Hotel Paris- Otel Mete).
Militants are also using fake passports provided by ISIS to come to Turkey. Almost all of those who use fake passports are those who were previously detained by security forces in ISIS operations and then deported, but have returned to Turkey. The fake passports are issued by militants of the organization operating in various provinces of Turkey, as well as Uighurs in the Afghanistan organization, who stand out with their expertise in this field. There are also militants of the organization issuing fake passports in Syria, Hatay and Gaziantep.
REAL PASSPORTS ARE BURIED IN ISTANBUL, THEY CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER WITH FAKE AFGHANISTAN IDS
So, how do the militants who come from Central Asia and are kept in hotels and houses in Istanbul and neighboring provinces to travel to Afghanistan make their international journey? The answer to this question is as follows:
Militants from Central Asian countries come to Turkey with their own passports. Before leaving Istanbul for Afghanistan, they bury or hide their passports in an easily accessible place in Turkey. The militants are given fake “Afghanistan country IDs” through the organization’s so-called Khorasan officer. They declare that they are Afghans to border officials when crossing the Iranian border through Van and Ağrı and to Iranian officials after entering the country. Militants are trained in Afghan language, dialects and culture online for a long time before coming to Turkey. After reaching Afghanistan with fake identities, the militants return to Turkey and if they want to go back to their country, they can take out their passports, which they had hidden and buried before, and travel legally. However, when those who want to return to their country after staying in Afghanistan for a long time come to Turkey, they are sent back to their country or to Europe with fake passports provided by the organization for security reasons.