On September 25, security forces of Turkey detained 36 people in Istanbul suspecting them of having links with ISIS militants. According to law enforcement agencies, five of the detainees participated in the military operations in Syria and Iraq. It is worth noting that most of them are foreigners.
It is not the first time when ISIS militants flee from Syria and Iraq. In early August, the administration of Samsun province in Turkey at its website published information on 5 detained ISIS fighters had been preparing terrorist acts in Istanbul. While investigating, law enforcement officials managed to reveal the terrorist cell of seven jihadists those days, two of whom are still at large.
Even earlier in Turkey, in March 2017, two supporters of ISIS were apprehended. According to the criminal investigation, they were also preparing a terrorist attack in Istanbul. The suspects were arrested as a result of a special police operation in one of the Istanbul districts.
Turkish security forces escort detained suspects
It seems that the Syrian-Turkish border has not been closed yet. Yes, it’s difficult to get to the territory of Turkey through the territories controlled by the Kurds, but it is still possible. The most popular route for ISIS now is in the direction of the towns of Ash Shaddadi – Al Hasakah – Tall Tamr. Further, the majority of the Islamists with their families under the guise of refugees reach the border-towns of Sari Kani and Ad Darbasiyah. Rarely they flee towards Amuda and Qamishli (it is more difficult to cross the border from there). In the hospitals of the border towns to the north of them is often possible to find IS fighters sent there for treatment.
The help of taxi drivers is usually used by those who do not have their own means of transportation to reach the border. Taxi drivers earn good money on such ‘refugees’ (about $ 50 per trip). Many of the drivers even are linked with special guides who usually wait for the terrorists near the border. These so-called guides know how to reach the territory of Turkey on foot bypassing mine fields.
At the same time, some defectors use the Turkey as a transit point on their way to European countries while others try to legalize dissolving in Turkish society, finding work and settling in Turkish cities or try to move to other troubled regions of the world to continue the bloody jihad.
Islamists with their families under the guise of refugees cross the border
The situation on the battlefields is developing in a way that the Turkish loophole will necessarily be used if the current emirs and high-ranking ISIS commanders, who feel the approach of their end, have not already taken advantage. IS leaders need to have time to legalize themselves and their capital while simple militants at the cost of their lives delay the fast end of the grouping. According to the global financial monitoring company IHS Markit, the average monthly incomes of a terrorist organization since 2015 have already declined from $81 million to $10 million. The theory of the ISIS members fleeing is also proved by the latest operations for their evacuation by US special forces.
Now that the end of the ISIS is close, Turkish law enforcement agencies should focus on all refugees crossing the border. It is not excluded that the remnants of the militants will try to hide from retaliation in the territory of Turkey and organize a business to legalize Islamists on the territory of a sovereign state. Considering the fact that whole caravans with oil of militants passed through the territory of Turkey, it would not be too difficult to organize such a channel for legalization.
The Islamists Are Coming…
Sophie Mangal is a special investigative correspondent and co-editor at Inside Syria Media Center where this article and all images were originally published.