Fighting ISIL becomes more complex

On Oct. 31, a Russian airliner exploded in mid-air after leaving Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, killing all 217 passengers and crew. The Russian authorities announced that the most likely cause was a homemade TNT bomb. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the act.

In low-income countries, it is not difficult to recruit someone to plant such a homemade bomb on a plane. There may be in the world hundreds of airports where security measures are even more lax than in Sharm al-Sheikh. Therefore, similar attacks may be carried out in many other airports. ISIL will identify the weakest ones and attack in such airports the interests of countries it regards as enemies.

The findings in the multiple attacks that ISIL carried out in Paris on Nov. 13 unveils other aspects of the difficulty in fighting ISIL: A passport issued to a Syrian citizen by the name of Ahmad al-Mohammed was found on one of the suicide bombers in Paris. According to the Turkish media, this terrorist stayed two nights in Hotel Sultan in İzmir, on Nov. 3 and 4. The last trace of his passage was found on Greece’s Leros Island. Therefore, one may presume that he entered Turkey together with innumerable refugees sometime towards the end of September, and crossed to Leros at the beginning of November among thousands of illegal migrants who made their way from Greece to France. This adventurous trip warns us that there may be scores of other ISIL terrorists who used the same route and arrived in their final destination in various European cities where they live as a dormant ISIL cell. This will push the countries to become more reluctant to receive Syrian refugees and make life more difficult both for the receiving countries and for the refugees.

With the recent ISIL attacks, the Schengen agreement will be put to the test. In order to reduce the risk of the infiltration of terrorists among refugees, EU countries will probably tighten measures to screen refugee applications.

Turkey will be severely affected by such measures for several reasons:

First, when the Syrian refugees are not admitted to the EU countries because of the tighter scrutiny, they will stay in Turkey with all the economic and social problems that entails.

Second, the director of a polling company in Turkey disclosed last week that the proportion of ISIL sympathizers in Turkey has increased to 7 percent, which corresponds to more than 5 million people. This disclosure may push the EU countries to apply tighter scrutiny to visa applications by Turks.

Third, these terrorist attacks coincided with a period in which the EU’s visa facilitation negotiations with Turkey were going to be resumed. Many EU countries already nourish a negative perception of Turkey because they believe that Turkey did not show due diligence at the initial stage of the anti-ISIL fight. One can only hope that this negative perception will not affect the visa facilitation negotiations.

An ISIL fighter, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in November in a police operation carried out in Paris. According to German police authorities, Abaaoud was spotted in Cologne when boarding a flight to İstanbul. Belgian police had added a security warning about him, so the German police asked the Belgian authorities whether he should be allowed to board the plane. As there was no answer in due time, the German authorities did not stop him from boarding and he flew to Turkey. This simple fact reveals three discrepancies: a) The Belgian police did not respond in due time; b) the German police let an extremely dangerous terrorist, a suicide bomber, continue his trip despite the existence of a security warning in the system; c) The German police did not warn the Turkish police despite the security warning.

These discrepancies point to an urgent need for closer and more efficient cooperation among the security authorities of all countries without any discrimination whatsoever.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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