İstanbul, transit point for ISIS, will host OIC police center for fight against terrorism

Nordic Monitor

 

Members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have agreed to establish the Centre for Police Cooperation and Coordination (CPCC) as a specialized institution based in İstanbul, where jihadist groups have enjoyed a safe haven for the recruitment of foreign fighters and medical care.

OIC member states decided to operationalize the CPCC at the 13th Islamic Summit, held in Turkey April 14-15, 2016. The statute governing the CPCC was then adopted by the 45th session of the OIC council of foreign ministers (CFM) in Dhaka in May 2018.

According to documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, the OIC’s new institution aims at improving police cooperation between member states to fight terrorism, violent extremism and all kind of crime.

Article 3 of the statute states, “To realize the objective of the Charter of the OIC to ensure communication and cooperation in combatting all types of crimes including terrorism, violent extremism, in all forms and manifestations, other cross-border crimes and transnational crime, illicit drug trafficking, corruption, money laundering and human trafficking …,” adding that the CPCC shall implement its duties “to enhance the institutional capacities of the Police Organizations of the Member States.”

It is ironic that the CPCC statute provides Turkey a leading role in the fight of OIC countries against terrorism and all types of crime and that İstanbul has become the operational coordination center of these efforts.

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s letter with the text of the agreement attached was submitted to the Parliament Speaker’s Office for approval of the agreement: 

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Following the eruption of the Syrian crisis, the international community accused Turkey of indirectly facilitating the flow of arms and foreign fighters to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a jihadist terrorist group, by pursuing an open-border policy and of supporting groups affiliated with al-Qaeda in Syria. Due to its geographic location, İstanbul has served as a transit point for ISIS to send fighters from different parts of the world into Syria or from the Middle East into Europe. However, the Turkish security agencies have failed to take any action against the flow of jihadist terrorists and their activities that were centered mainly in İstanbul and border provinces despite pressure from the international community.

Instead, Ankara pursued a policy of nonintervention that allowed foreign fighters traversing its territory to join ISIS and other radical groups in Syria. This policy has resulted in the passage of tens of thousands of foreign fighters through Turkey and has allowed several radical groups to carry out their logistics and operations within Turkey’s borders. Turkish support for ISIS has played a critical role in its operations. Had Turkey not been so tolerant of ISIS’s activities within its borders, including the facilitating the trafficking of thousands of foreign and Turkish fighters, ISIS would not be as powerful as it is today.  Enabled by Turkish policy, ISIS was empowered beyond imagination in a very short period of time.

 

İstanbul has been used as a transit point for ISIS and other terrorist groups.

 

When the bodies of ISIS fighters are recovered on the Syrian battlefield, the passports found on them have often been stamped by the police in Turkey, which thousands of recruits pass through on their way to join the terrorist group.

ISIS fighter Muhammad Balusha, a prisoner of Kurdish-led militias in northern Syria, recently told the Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) in an interview that a private hospital in İstanbul had treated him and other ISIS members during his stay in the city in 2016 and 2017.

 

Halis Bayancuk (R), a well-known ISIL supporter who goes by the name Abu Hanzala, is pictured with his wife after they were detained in a counterterrorism operation.

 

In the text of the statute, the OIC countries pledge to cooperate in the exchange of information, experience and best practices by local police authorities, the production scientific data and academic knowledge to combat crime and criminals more effectively, mutual training programs and the development of modes of operational cooperation to cope with organized crime, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking and cyberattacks.

According to the text, the CPCC will implement its duties by providing, maintaining, facilitating and increasing communication and coordination in accordance with the regulations to be adopted by its executive council, by bringing together OIC member states requiring police training with the countries that are capable of contributing to such training and by mobilizing technical assistance to countries that are targeted by terrorism.

The statute was signed by Turkey at the 46th Session of the CFM in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2, 2019. The statute must be ratified by 19 countries so that the center can begin operations. The CPCC statute was submitted to parliament for ratification on June 26, 2019 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

 

The 20-page CPCC statute is posted below:

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