Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Supporter of Terror Organizations


Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey: Time for Trump’s State Department to call them sponsors of terrorism

Since 1979, the State Department has maintained a State Sponsor of Terrorism list. Three laws inform the designation: (1) The Export Administration Act of 1979; (2) The Arms Export Control Act; and (3) the Foreign Assistance Act. If the secretary of state determines a country “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” onto the list it goes. Libya, Iraq, South Yemen, and Syria were charter members of the list, and Cuba, Iran, and North Korea all joined in the 1980s. In 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher added Sudan, which at the time hosted Osama Bin Laden.

Over the next several years, however, the State Department removed most countries: South Yemen left the list in 1990 when, upon Yemeni unification, it ceased to exist, and Iraq was removed after Saddam Hussein’s ouster. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice removed both Libya and North Korea less because either state abandoned terrorism, and more to advance unrelated diplomatic initiatives. Secretary of State John Kerry acted similarly with regard to Cuba.

Today, only Iran, Syria, and Sudan remain listed, and it’s likely that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will remove Sudan soon. The shrinking of the state sponsorship list against the backdrop of worsening terrorism, much of it supported by governments, highlights how subjective short-term diplomatic considerations corrupt what should be a tool to pressure states to stop using terror.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens to remarks at the Security Council meeting on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
It’s time to return the terror list to its original purpose: calling out states which embrace terrorism, no matter whether they are U.S. allies or not. Certainly, Iran and Syria deserve to be on the list. The Palestinian Authority would too, if it was a state. Rice removed North Korea for all the wrong reasons, and the Trump administration should rectify that mistake. But, what about the other countries that have never been on the list but deserve to be?

Consider Turkey: Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it has enabled and supplied the Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked groups inside Syria. A WikiLeaks dump of Erdogan’s son-in-law suggested he was deeply complicit in illicit oil trade with the Islamic State. When al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb overran northern Mali, a Turkish ambassador sided with al Qaeda over the French paratroopers who intervened to restore order.

Erdogan’s support of Hamas is both broad and personal. Three years ago, tapes leaked that seemed to suggest that Erdogan’s office was using the state-owned Turkish Airlines to smuggle weaponry to Boko Haram, Islamist insurgents terrorizing Nigeria. Now, Nigerian customs have again uncovered a shipment of Turkish weaponry. That Turkish state media boasts about its ability to shoot down U.S. aircraft is just icing on the cake.

NATO member or not, Turkey fits the U.S. legal definition of terror sponsorship and has repeatedly engaged in such behavior. Designate Turkey and if Turkish officials complain, then the State Department should tell them that the way to move past the crisis is to change Turkey’s behavior; no longer should sleight of hand suffice.

Pakistan, too, has escaped the state sponsorship of terrorism list for far too long. Leaders of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence openly supports the Taliban. Nor is it credible that al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, without senior Pakistani authorities knowing it. Islamabad continues to tolerate and support an array of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, which recruited the Times Square bomber, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2001 attack on India’s parliament and the 2008 slaughter of tourists at a Mumbai hotel.

Occasional Pakistani government crackdowns on these groups are insincere: Even for the most high-profile terrorists, Pakistani prisons have revolving doors. Perhaps the Bush and Obama administration gave Islamabad a pass because they wanted Pakistan’s logistical cooperation in Afghanistan, but it didn’t work. Turning a blind eye toward Pakistani terror support cost scores of American lives, even as Pakistani leaders received billions of U.S. dollars.

It is time to hold Pakistan to account. If Pakistan then wishes to escape sanctions, it must imprison terrorists on its soil and cease any funding and equipping of them.

Lastly, there’s Qatar: There’s no question that the gas-rich Persian Gulf state has not only become the chief banker to Hamas, but it also finances the most radical al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria and Libya. It is provides a lifeline to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and finances Turkey’s terror-loving president. Al Jazeera Arabic, its flagship satellite station, has been caught red-handed coordinating with terrorist groups before attacks in Iraq. While Qatar signed onto the Jeddah Communique in 2014 promising to crack down on terror finance for the Islamic State and other extremist groups, it has failed to abide by its commitments.

The U.S.-leased Al Udeid Airbase, now superfluous to U.S. strategic needs, should not be a reason to avoid designation. Simply put, the State Department should hold Doha accountable for its decisions and actions. If Qatari authorities object, they would be better served by ceasing terror finance than by spending millions of dollars on D.C. lobbyists and television and Internet advertisements.

The willingness of the State Department to turn a blind eye to so-called allies’ terror sponsorship undercuts the war on terrorism and leads terror sponsors to believe they can act with impunity. The situation now would be analogous to a World War II-era State Department bending over backwards to ignore German and Japanese atrocities out of fear that it might antagonize their leadership or undermine the prospects of talks.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans would allow a babysitter into their house and, out of politeness, ignore that she was a meth addict. Foreign policy should not be immune to similar common sense. It is always better to base national security on reality than on fantasy, and if friends turn out not to be friends, so be it.

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How Erdogan Enabled ISIS To Attack The Turks

By John A. Tures on Huffington Post

The world stands with the Turks in the wake of the terrible attacks on the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. But we don’t stand with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose obsession with destroying the Kurds politically enabled ISIS to kill Turks over the past few months, as well as last night.

At one time, Erdogan appeared to be a force for peace, deescalating the tensions between Turks and Kurds, until a Kurdish Party (HDP) won enough votes in June of 2015 to derail Erdogan’s plan to create a powerful presidential system that would benefit the Turkish leader and his family. In fact, the HDP did well enough to deny Erdogan’s party a majority for the first time in more than a decade. Then the gloves came off, and war was waged against the Kurds later that year, with policies receiving international condemnation.

Erdogan never missed a chance to link the HDP to the PKK, a group regarded by many as a terrorist organization, in his bid for a new election later in 2015. He may not have succeeded in destroying the HDP in that election, but his AKP took votes from the nationalistic MHP in order to win that governing coalition.

Meanwhile, a wave of terrorism struck Turkey. Two blasts even wiped out hundreds of Kurds at a peaceful political rally. But Erdogan’s Prime Minister pointed the finger at the Kurds, illogically accusing them of killing their own people. They’ve arrested scores of domestic dissenters and blasted academics pushing for peace with the Kurds.

At the same time, Turkey was given permission to bomb ISIS in Syria. But that never happened. Instead, Turkey used that NATO base to strike at Syrian Kurd(YPG and the PYD), a group that was actually fighting ISIS on the ground.

As more attacks occurred in Turkey, Erdogan accused the Americans and Russians of helping the Syrian Kurds (YPG and the PYD), claiming they were responsible. He even shot down a Russian plane, and warned Americans about helping Syrian Kurds.

Media censorship on the ground after each bombing inhibited the ability of the press to find the real culprits: ISIS, or maybe some other shadowy element interested in killing Kurds. Even as the finger was pointed at YPG and the PYD, the group denied responsibility for the bombings. Instead, some nebulous group called “the Falcons” (or was it the Eagles or the Seahawks?), accused of being Kurdish, swooped in to “take the credit” for each kill.

Now there are many dead Turks. Increasingly, it is looking more and more like ISIS did this one, and maybe the other ones. While Erdogan put a bullseye on the Kurds in the past, ISIS came to town, and is poised to turn Turkey into the next Syria, Libya, Yemen, or Iraq, making it the new front in the war on terror. The YPG and PYD attacks on ISIS could have been much better, without Turkish government bombs falling on them.

Some claim that Erdogan is really in league with ISIS, or wouldn’t mind if the group, an enemy of his petty rival Bashir al-Assad in Syria, succeeded. At a minimum, Erdogan’s guilty of incompetence, letting ISIS get away with murder while he plays party politics. It’s no wonder he wanted to change Turkey from a parliamentary system to a powerful presidential system. Because if he was still prime minister, he could be facing a vote of no confidence for how he’s allowed ISIS to win in Turkey.

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Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, Poe, and Sherman Lead Bipartisan Letter to Treasury Department Seeking Action Against Hamas Supporters In Turkey and Qatar

Today U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, was joined by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ranking Member of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, and Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury urging it to do more to designate and sanction individuals and entities that provide financial, political or material support for Hamas - a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization. The letter was cosigned by 20 additional Members of the two subcommittees. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“It’s no secret that Turkey and Qatar provide refuge to many Hamas operatives, and that both of these supposed American allies have become major terror financial hubs. While the Treasury Department has taken significant action against Hamas and its supporters, more can be done to halt support for this terrorist group. Both Turkey and Qatar have thus far been extremely lax in enforcing their terror financing laws and taking action against U.S. designated individuals or entities. By going after those individuals and entities tied to support for Hamas, Treasury can send a strong message to both governments that they need to get on board and sanction entities that are supporting terrorism or risk further isolation from America and our financial sector.”

NOTE: Cosigners are: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ted Poe (R-TX), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Randy Weber (R-TX), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Scott Perry (R-PA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Paul Cook (R-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Curt Clawson (R-FL), and Mark Meadows (R-NC).

Text of the letter is below. To see the final, signed letter, please click here.

December 9, 2014

The Honorable David S. Cohen
Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Department of the Treasury

Dear Under Secretary Cohen:

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and commend the efforts of the Department of Treasury to hamper the ability of Hamas – a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization – to raise and move money, as well as its efforts to sanction entities controlled by Hamas, and designate senior Hamas officials on the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN). On September 9, 2014, the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade convened a joint subcommittee hearing entitled “Hamas’ Benefactors: A Network of Terror”. While we recognize that Treasury’s designations have taken a toll on the operations of this terrorist organization, we believe that more can be done, and we urge Treasury to take all necessary measures to sanction individuals or entities that are directly or indirectly financing or materially supporting Hamas.

As you know, Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support. However, others in the region have stepped up to provide support for Hamas. Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities. Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.

We are concerned about the ties between Qatar and Hamas, and we commend you on your speech before the Center for a New American Security, where you stated that, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas,” and that press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also “supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” further adding to the instability of the region. As you noted in your speech, there are private fundraising networks in Qatar that solicit donations for terrorists. Qatar, in your words, is “a permissive terrorist financing environment.”

We are also concerned about Turkey’s continued support for Hamas. Turkey serves as the headquarters for Saleh al-Arouri, who is believed to head Hamas’ terrorist operations in the West Bank. In August, the media reported that he was behind an allegedly thwarted plot to topple, undermine, or replace the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. Also in August, al-Arouri stated that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens this June.

In addition to Hamas figures that knowingly and openly operate in Turkey, numerous charities, front companies and possibly even banks provide some form of support from Turkey for the terror group. One organization that has been reported to have had direct contact with Hamas is the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) charity that planned the flotilla incident of 2010. We are aware that Treasury has expressed concerns about IHH’s terrorism connections in the past.

Any entity or nation that continues to back this U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and provide it material and financial support should be sanctioned. Therefore, as Members of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, we are requesting that Treasury use every tool available to designate all individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies. We also request specific public updates on Treasury’s discussions with the Qatari government on previously designated, Qatar-based terrorist financiers that the Qataris have yet to act upon.

Thank you for your immediate attention in this matter.


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