Has Turkey used its national airline for weapons shipments to Nigeria? (Image source: Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Concerning Turkey’s increasingly suspect role in supporting jihadists — most recently, ISIS’s slain leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was found hiding in Syria’s “last refuge” for jihadi rebels, just three miles from Turkey’s border — one of the least mentioned is Turkey’s apparent alliance with the “other” ISIS, that in Nigeria, Boko Haram.
On a recent episode of bi’l waraqa wa’l qalam (“With Paper and Pen”), an Egyptian news program that airs on TenTV, its host, Nasha’t al-Deyhi, said:
“Leaked information confirms that Turkey is a terrorist state; it supports terrorists — including with weapons. It supports terrorists with weapons. This time, however, not in Syria … Today’s leak confirms without doubt that Erdogan, his state, his government, and his party are transferring weapons from Turkey to — this is a shock, to where you may ask — to Nigeria; and to whom? — to the Boko Haram organization.”
He then played an intercepted audio of what he said were Mustafa Varank (currently Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology) and Mehmet Karatas (a manager at the partly state-owned Turkish Airlines).
The gist of their brief conversation in Turkish, according to the Arabic transcript, is that weapons were being transferred from Turkey to Nigeria — and that there was a concern that the weapons might kill not just Christians but Muslims.
(This audio clip would seem to be the same leaked recording that was first reported by international media outlets in 2014. Varank served as Senior Advisor to Recep Tayyip Erdogan between 2011 and 2018)
According to al-Deyhi, the recording is proof positive that Turkey is the one supplying Boko Haram with its weapons — including sophisticated weapons — the source of which has long puzzled observers. He also offered to send the audio with translations to the Nigerian government, and apparently anyone else interested.
Boko Haram is an Islamist terrorist organization centered in Nigeria and spreading throughout west Africa. It has long engaged in the sorts of atrocities that ISIS is known for — mass slaughter, church bombings, kidnapping, rape, forced conversion — beginning years before ISIS was even founded. As Nigeria is roughly half Christian and half Muslim, Boko Haram’s primary target has been Christians. Boko Haram and other Muslims — particularly the Fulani tribesmen, whose sophisticated armaments have also puzzled Western observers — have been slaughtering Christians to the point of genocide.
As for the issue of distinguishing between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Islamic law makes clear that Muslims, when prosecuting jihad, should be careful not to kill fellow Muslims. For instance, according to a 2012 report, after Boko Haram stormed a college in Nigeria, they “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.
Some Nigerian activists have already acted on this information by bringing it to the attention of U.S. lawmakers. According to an October 11, 2019 Nigerian news report by Steve Oko:
A US-based lawyer and rights activist, Emmanuel Ogebe, has filed a petition to the United States of America over alleged arms supply to Boko Haram terrorist organisation by Turkey.
According to Ogebe, President Edorgan [sic] of Turkey is one of those supplying Boko Haram with arms.
In a petition to the US Congress wired via a US Congress man [sic], Chris Smith, the lawyer alleged that a Turkish aircraft was directed to airlift arms to Nigeria for Boko Haram.
According to the petition made available to Wawa News Global, discussions between the airline manager and government officials were intercepted by Egyptian Intelligence.
In his letter to Congressman Smith, Ogebe writes:
An Egyptian TV program has again drawn attention to a concern I raised in testifying before your committee of evidence that Turkish Airlines surreptitiously flies armament into Nigeria. As a business operating in the US, I once again urge for proper scrutiny, investigation and sanctions as necessary. As we approach the sixth anniversary of the FTO [foreign terrorist organization] designation of Boko Haram, it is important that those sanctions be enforced especially as Turkey’s current onslaught on the Kurds could potentially recalibrate ISIS which already has a West African phalanx in Nigeria.
Erdogan has turned “Turkey into a safe haven for Hamas terrorists and a financial center for funneling money to subsidize terror attacks,” according to Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon.
“While he [Erdogan] was busy murdering those who have helped keep the world safe from the threat of ISIS, he allowed ISIS members to break out of prison and subject the world to future attacks.”
Now, however, it appears that Erdogan’s sponsorship of terrorism may not be limited to neighboring Middle Eastern nations; it may have reached deep into Africa. A serious investigation with possible sanctions is in order.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.