According to the New York Times, one of the biggest source of recruits for so-called “Daesh” extremists is neighboring Turkey, as Turkey has been “criticized at home and abroad for an open border policy in the early days of the Syrian [conflict].”
According to a New York Times article published on its website on Monday, “One of the biggest source of recruits for Daesh is neighboring Turkey, a NATO member.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has “resisted pleas to take aggressive steps against Daesh,” it said, citing the fate of 49 Turkish hostages who Daesh has held since militants took over Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, in June.
Turkey declined to sign a communiqué recently last Thursday that committed a number of regional states to take “appropriate” new measures to counter Daesh, the New York Times wrote.
It added that “Turkey has been criticized at home and abroad for an open border policy in the early days of the Syrian [conflict].”
Pressure has been put on Erdogan to better police Turkey’s 560-mile-long border with Syria, according to the New York Times.
It is wanted that Turkey stanch the flow of foreign militants and to stop Daesh from exporting the oil it produces on territory it holds in Syria and Iraq, it added.
Moreover, the newspaper cited the example of one former militant, who had been taken to Syria, along with 10 of his friends, and joined Daesh after 15 days of training in the city of Raqqa.
He said that he shot two men and participated in a public execution; but it was only after he buried a man alive that he was told he had become a real Daesh militant.
“When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance,” said Can, who asked to be referred to only by his middle name.
The 27-year-old added that many Turks have been drawn to Daesh for financial reasons, as it appeals to disadvantaged youth in the less affluent parts of Turkey.
“When you fight, they offer $150 a day. Then everything else is free,” he said. “Even the shopkeepers give you free products out of fear.”
The New York Times report comes as Francis Ricciardone, who was the US ambassador to Ankara until late June, has recently accused Turkey of directly supporting al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities in Syria, adding that the Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist groups operating inside Syria and at the same time push them to become more “moderate.”
Hundreds of foreign fighters, including some from Europe and the United States, have joined the ranks of Daesh in its self-proclaimed “caliphate” that sweeps over vast territories of Iraq and Syria.
As many as 1,000 Turks have joined Daesh, according to Turkish news media reports and government officials.
Moreover, the CIA estimated recently last week that the group has from 20,000 to 31,500 extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, Aaron Stein, said that, “There are clearly recruitment centers being set up in Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, but the government doesn’t seem to care.”
The Interior Ministry and National Police Department meanwhile did not respond to requests for comment.