Turkey has long fought ISIL: Turkish ambassador to US
WASHINGTON - Anadolu AgencyThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is targeting Turkey due to its position as a frontline state in the fight against the group, said Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç in a letter published in the New York Times July 7.
Rebuffing a Times editorial published last week on the June 28 attack on Istanbul Atatürk Airport which left 45 people dead, Kılıç stated that Turkey has become a target of ISIL because Ankara designated the group a terrorist organization as early as 2013 and because of Turkey’s “proven model of embracing universal values” with a predominantly Muslim population. The ambassador said the editorial, which implied that Turkish policy bore some blame for the attack, fell short of explaining it.
“It is true that why Turkey has become a target is not a surprise, but not because of the reasons offered in your editorial,” Kılıç said, adding that Turkey had fought against criminal networks of foreign fighters “often alone” before others even “realized the severity of the problem.”
Rejecting the accusations that Turkey has allowed foreign fighters to enter the country, often en route to Syria, Kılıç said that since 2011, Turkey has put more than 50,000 foreigners from 145 countries on its no-entry list, used risk-analysis units at the airports to check more than 11,000 individuals, deported more than 3,600 foreigners from 98 countries and detained more than 5,310 ISIL, Nusra Front, and al-Qaeda-affiliated individuals, taking 1,654 into custody.
“Yet on some occasions the suspected ISIL militants, who were deported with proper notification to the authorities of their country of origin, carried out terrorist attacks in… Europe,” he said, referring to Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who was deported from Turkey a year before taking part in the Brussels airport attack this March which killed more than 30 people.
“It is therefore blatantly unfair to accuse Turkey of inaction,” Kılıç said, adding that the high numbers of foreign fighters in source countries must be taken into consideration before “reaching unjust conclusions about Turkey.”
“It is high time to defeat this global menace, be it in Istanbul, Brussels or Orlando, by standing together,” he added.
The paper’s unsigned June 29 editorial “Behind the Cruel Attack on Turkey” claimed that the Turkish government long “underestimated” the ISIL threat and only began carrying out airstrikes “under American pressure” last year, besides starting to allow U.S. aircraft targeting ISIL to fly sorties out of Turkey.