Al-Qaeda groups threaten Turkey's security: Foreign Minister Davutoğlu
Umut Erdem HÜRRİYET/ANKARA
‘Terrorist groups in Syria are one of the major issues that are being discussed during contacts with foreign counterparts,’ FM Davutoğlu says. AA PhotoStrictly refuting claims suggesting that Turkey has been overlooking terrorist activities by al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu vowed no tolerance for these groups from activities of which he noted Turkey has also suffered.
“The claims of our country’s support for organizations in the region, that it has turned a blind eye to activities of these [organizations] and al-Qaeda and al-Nusra militants have the right to freely move within Turkey by no means reflect the truth,” Davutoğlu said in his recently delivered official statement, in which he responded to several motions filed by opposition lawmakers.
“Intelligence and preventive measures aimed at the activities of the said elements are being taken by our related institutions. Turkey is a country that has suffered from al-Qaeda attacks in the past. Within the framework of U.N. Security Council resolutions, our country is also sensitively fulfilling its liabilities concerning al-Qaeda and persons and groups affiliated with al-Qaeda,” Davutoğlu said.
The foreign minister’s statement came in response to separate motions filed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Osman Korutürk, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Kocaeli deputy Lütfü Türkkan and MHP Iğdır deputy Sinan Oğan.
Last month, news reports suggested that Turkey facilitated an attack carried out by Islamist fighters against the Armenian town of Kasab inside Syria, with some of them having cited eyewitness explainations.
At the time, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the claims the government aided the opposition in the attack are “totally unfounded and untrue.”
“Terrorist groups in Syria are one of the major issues that are being discussed during contacts with foreign counterparts as part of the struggle against counter-terrorism. All counterparts are being inspired to timely convey details about the counterpart country’s citizens whose exit could not be prevented, such as identity information, travel route, likely companions, photograph information, travel documents, criminal records, court and international search warrants and concrete intelligence information revealing their contacts with terrorist organizations. Within this framework, the required operations are being done immediately,” Davutoğlu said, in an apparent reference to citizens of European countries who pass through Turkey in order to fight as “jihadists” in Syria against regime forces.
Al-Qaeda attacks in Turkey
On May 11, 2013, twin bombs killed 53 people in the border town of Reyhanlı in Hatay. Authorities have insisted suspects being tried for the attack are linked to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not Islamist rebels, but several leaked documents have cast doubt on the government’s claims, suggesting that al-Qaeda-linked groups committed the attack.
In 2003, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul. On Nov. 20, 2003, Islamists attacked the British Consulate General and HSBC Bank offices in Istanbul with car bombs, killing 30 people, including British Consul General Roger Short, and wounding almost 400 people.
The Nov. 20 bombing came after simultaneous attacks on two synagogues in the city five days earlier. On Nov. 15, 2003, two trucks laden with explosives drove into two prominent synagogues in Istanbul, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, killing 27 people and injuring 300 more.