Nearly a dozen individuals suspected of being part of ISIS are in trial in Turkey. In what can only be described as another black eye for the Turkish government, one of the suspects said it was the Turkish Intelligence Agency that aided in the smuggling of weapons to Syrian rebels. According to at least one report, Turkish authorities are trying desperately to keep the details of the proceedings as low key as possible.
Mehmet Aşkar, one of the 11 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) currently being tried by the Niğde High Criminal Court, has said that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) helped them smuggle arms to opposition groups in Syria during the early stages of the country’s civil war, a Turkish daily has reported.
According to a story published in the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday, Turkish authorities are trying to divert public attention from the case because the prosecutor’s dossier has details which reveal the involvement of MİT in arms smuggling.
The 11 suspects in the case include a Syrian Turkmen who is allegedly linked with the anti-regime Free Syrian Army (FSA) and radical groups such as ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates. Haisam Toubaljeh, also known as Heysem Topalca and who is also a suspect in the Reyhanlı attack case, according to Hürriyet, is believed to have been involved in numerous cases of smuggling as well as a transfer of rocket warheads to Syria that was intercepted in November 2013 by security forces in the southern city of Adana.
Aşkar said in the dossier that he had given his vehicle to Topalca in 2011 in the Yayladağı district of Hatay province when Topalca told Aşkar that he was planning to bring arms from Syria to Turkey and then send them to rebel groups in Syria. Aşkar added that Topalca had told him that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had seized some towns in northern Syria, blocking the previous routes that the rebel groups had used to transfer arms.
Haven’t we been told that Turkey was interested in helping the ‘moderate’ rebels like the U.S.? As a member of NATO, why would Turkey be using ISIS mules to smuggle weapons to moderate rebels? Does this not lay waste – again – to the notion that there are ‘moderate’ rebels in the first place?