by Florian Flade
On Wednesday, Turkish police detained five men suspected of supporting al-Qaeda. The students were arrested in the cities of Istanbul, Hatay, Antalya, Kayseri and Izmir and were taken to court today for the first hearing on the case of providing support to a terror organization.
Turkish security officials told news agencies, Tevfik P. (19), the Chechen-born Gökhan K.(39), Marat B. (22), Serkan T. (31) and Abdulkadir K.(23) were part of a group of Turkish Islamists in contact with al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal region.
Leader of the group was Zekeriya C., known as „Ebu el Turki“, a Turkish militant who was released from prison in Turkey after serving a one-year sentence. He is described as a commander loyal to Serdar Erbashi alias „Ebu Zer al Turki“, a well-known Jihadi leader who had fought in Chechnya before joining extremists in Pakistani Waziristan in 2008.
In the Pakistani tribal region, „Ebu Zer“ established the Turkish splinter group of the „Islamic Jihad Union“ (IJU), an Uzbek-dominated militant organization, called „Taifatul Mansoura“. Several Turkish, Tatar and German nationals trained in the camps of Taifatul Mansoura under the command of „Ebu Zer“, who is said to be in located in Afghanistan on a regular basis.
All five students arrested in Turkey were in contact with Zekeriya C. via e-mail, helping the Pakistan-based militant group to raise money donations and recruit fighters.
Abdulkadir K., a 23 year-old mathematics student from Izmir, is suspected of being the ringleader of the five men group. He is suspected of having worked on a software to jam the flight control system of the American unmanned drones, striking terrorist targets in Pakistani Waziristan almost every week. In his home, police found several documents, among them images of „Amir Ebu Zer“ and CDs indicating he was also involved in providing Turkish Jihadis in Pakistan with money and logistics.
The mathematics student reportedly stored explosives and chemicals in his flat, and was building explosive devices he tested on an open field. One bomb test was even recorded by Abdulkadir K. on a video camera.
Back in January Turkish police had raided numerous houses in different locations in the South of the country, arresting around 120 al-Qaeda sympathizers and supporters. If there were any terror plots foiled by the round-ups is not known.
Turkish militants are an increasing phenomenon in the AfPak-Region. Most of the young men join the „Islamic Jihad Union“, the „Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan“ or al-Qaeda. Some months ago, al-Qaeda´s No.2 man Ayman az-Zawahiri praised the role of Turkish Jihadis in Afghanistan, calling for the Muslims of Turkey to support Jihad and re-establish the Kalifat of the Ottoman Empire.
Probably hundred of Turks have answered the call of the militant groups and not only provided financial support to the terror networks of Waziristan but also traveled to the region for combat against NATO-forces and Afghan troops. Recently a Turkish Jihadi forum announced the „martyrdom“ of several Islamists from Turkey who died fighting in Afghanistan and in CIA drone attacks on their camps in Northwest Pakistan in September.