Berlin sees Turkey as Middle East terrorism hub, refuses to admit it publicly – report

Hamas militants. © Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
German security officials see Turkey as a “central platform” supporting extremist and terrorist organizations in the Middle East, according to a TV report which cited a leaked internal document that accused Ankara of breeding radical Islamism in the region.

On Tuesday, German broadcaster ARD published part of a confidential document allegedly written by the Interior Ministry, which accused the Turkish president of supporting EU- and US-recognized terrorist groups based on ideological affinity.

“The many expressions of solidarity and support actions by the ruling AKP and President Erdogan for the Egyptian MB (Muslim Brotherhood), Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria emphasize their ideological affinity with the (broader) Muslim Brotherhood,” ARD cited the government report as saying.

Furthermore, the leaked report said that Turkey, for years, engaged in a policy of deliberately financing Islamist and terrorist organizations with the direct consent of Erdogan.

“As a result of the step-by-step Islamization of its foreign and domestic policy since 2011, Turkey has become the central platform for action by Islamist groups in the Middle East,” the document stated.

The leaked confidential answer to a parliamentary query by leftist Die Linke party, was written by the Interior Ministry and marks the first official German assessment linking Ankara to Islamists.

The document basically accuses Ankara of supporting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in its overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Following the initial success of the Arab Spring, Egypt’s first ever democratically elected head of state in 2012, Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, was eventually overthrown by the military in 2013, while the Egyptian court banned the Brotherhood and ordered its assets to be seized. Following massive crackdown many of the Muslim Brotherhood members found a safe haven in Turkey after escaping from Egypt.

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Hamas is listed as terrorist organization both in the EU and the US, and the German Interior Ministry believes that Turkey supported its militant actions against Israel over the blockade of the Gaza Strip. A number of Hamas operatives are also believed to be welcomed guests in Turkey.

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As far as supporting “armed Islamist opposition” in Syria, that topic has hijacked the headlines of news outlets for years. Russia, in particular, has stressed that Turkey is involved in training, arming and aiding radical Islamist fractions in Syria.

In reaction to the leaked document, the Linke party called for a radical shift in Germany’s approach towards Ankara, especially the refugee deal worth some €6 billion ($6.76bn).

“The German government cannot publicly designate the godfather of terrorism Erdogan as a partner, while internally warning about Turkey as a hub for terrorism,” said Linke party’s Sevim Dagdalen.