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For years, Turkey — a U.S. ally and NATO member — let ISIS and other violent Salafi (Sunni extremist) groups cross its open border with Syria, which some dubbed the "jihadi highway". Heavily armed ISIS fighters were allowed to freely cross Turkey's border. ISIS has had strong connections to Turkey over the years, whether through its oil industry or through its willingness to shield wanted members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This "neighbourly" relationship was essential to ISIS's success, and it continues to be reflected in Turkish decision-making.

The nexus between Turkey and ISIS was further confirmed by revelations of Abu Mansour al-Maghribi, the emir of ISIS in Turkey, to Prof. Dr. Anne Spekchard during their meeting (2019), the details of which were shared by Dr. Anne during a recent interview with Aydogan, Editor-in-Chief of Politurco, a Turkish media outlet.

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© Carlos Latuff
Abu Mansour al-Maghribi claimed to be Daesh's ambassador to Turkey. He was responsible for communications with the Turkish government and intelligence. When asked if Turkey provided medical help to ISIS fighters, he replied in affirmative. He explained that they arranged this business with the Turks. They had an arrangement with the Turkish intelligence and communicated when they wanted to send someone across the border. He disclosed that he often attended meetings either on the Syrian side or the Turkish side.

Further, he claimed that Turkey was the entry point for forty thousand people from 110 countries into Syria wanting to join the organization. It was revealed that if these persons were Moroccans from Belgium, Turks or Turks from Germany, they could cross the border during the day because they looked like Syrians and would not be caught by drone's reconnaissance flights, but if the crossers were white, they crossed the border in small groups at night. They had devised this method so that Turkey would not seem as an accomplice when foreign fighters entered the organization.

Turkey also allowed ISIS forces to launch attacks on their opponents from Turkish territory. ISIS forces could have not entered or left Turkey freely without the consent of the Turkish government. Anti-Assad opposition reported that ISIS was attacking them from inside Turkey, and a senior Egyptian official indicated in October 2014 that Turkish intelligence was passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS. To this day, Turkey is under the influence of Muslim Brotherhood doctrine, which underpins the continued existence of ISIS and shows a lack of concern in Ankara for the group's acts of violence.

Turkey's increasingly divisive and destabilizing influence in the Middle East and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's burgeoning Islamist tendencies are the region's biggest concern. Flirting with terrorism could also have a disruptive and corrosive impact inside Turkey, due to Erdogan government's willingness to use religion as a tool for domestic political purposes.