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US think tank report warns about terrorism finance in Turkey.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- A report by a Washington-based think tank titled "Terrorism Finance in Turkey: A Growing Concern" has pointed out that should problems with regard to Turkey's alleged support of terrorism-affiliated individuals and groups continue, the US administration will have a difficult time maintaining its important alliance with Turkey, due to legal obligations and public perceptions.

The report was issued on Friday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C.

FDD Director of Communications Josh Silberberg, in an e-mail sent to Today's Zaman before the release of the report, said: "This report was sparked by Turkey's corruption scandal, which has intersected with multiple allegations of terrorism finance involving Iran, al-Qaeda, Syrian jihadis, Hamas and more. Turkey's actions constitute a direct challenge to the U.S. terror finance sanctions regime."

The report notes key concerns that include, "Turkish participation in Iran sanctions-busting schemes, Turkish cooperation with Iranian banks sanctioned by the US and EU and Turkish support for Sunni jihadi groups in Syria, including recent [US] Treasury reports that Turkey is a transit point for al-Qaeda funds, persistent reports of close ties between the [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoy-an government and Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi, who was sanctioned in 2001 for suspected financial ties to al-Qaeda."

On Feb. 6 the US Treasury announced that an al-Qaeda network based in Iran is helping to transport fighters and money to Syria via Turkey. There are also allegations that Turkey helped Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi, who is listed by the US Treasury as a "specially designated global terrorist," to evade UN sanctions.

The FDD report also listed additional sources of concern: "Turkish political and financial support for Hamas, Hamas leaders meet regularly with Prime Minister Erdoy-an while senior Hamas figure Saleh al-Aruri operates out of Turkey, government support for the IHH [the Humanitarian Aid Foundation], a Turkish charity that is part of the Union of Good, a Saudi-based organization that is designated as a terrorist entity, Turkish cooperation with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC), which has been sanctioned multiple times by the U.S. for selling prohibited missile technology to Iran, Turkey's noncompliance with the Financial Action Task Force on terrorism finance laws. This has landed Turkey on FATF's [Financial Action Task Force, the international body that sets global standards for combating terrorism financing] 'gray list' for six years running."

The FDD report emphasized that with the Syrian civil war raging just across Turkey's eastern border, reports continue to circulate that Turkey has turned a blind eye to the flow of money and weaponry to dangerous jihadi groups, including al-Qaeda.

The FDD publication also pointed to the fact that Turkey helped the Iranian regime gain $13 billion through a "gas-for-gold" program even as Turkey's NATO allies sought to punish Tehran for its nuclear program.

Reports that senior Hamas leader Saleh Aruri is living in Turkey, where he has been allegedly involved in the financing and logistics of Hamas operations were cited, as well.

"On top of this, in September 2013, Turkey surprised the West by entering into a controversial missile deal with a Chinese defense firm that was blacklisted for selling Iran items for its nuclear program," the FDD report said.

Stressing that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has rejected most of the allegations and blames outsiders "including Israel and followers of the Pennsylvania-based Islamist leader Fethullah GE-len for a treacherous plot," the FDD report said, "Rather than addressing the charges, the AKP [AK Party] has purged the investigators, prosecutors, and journalists involved, threatening the rule of law in Turkey."

"With Iran, Hamas and al-Qaeda in the picture, how long before elements within the US government - whether the Treasury, State Department or Congress - feel compelled to issue designations of individuals or institutions tied to terrorism in Turkey? How long before Turkey runs the risk of being viewed as a possible state sponsor of terrorism?" warned the report.

However, Jonathan Schanzer, former US Treasury terrorism finance analyst and FDD's vice president for research, told Today's Zaman in an e-mail that "Washington does not have the stomach to put Turkey on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Turkey is a NATO ally and US partner on many important issues. That said, Washington has become increasingly aware of the terrorism finance and material support activities of the AKP government."

"One gets a sense that if the State Department and Treasury held Turkey to the same standards as Sudan or Iran, for example, Turkey might qualify. But again, Washington would not go to these lengths right now," he added.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Feb 21, 2014
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