Turks Worry as Sons Go to Fight in Syria
Ankara – Abu Huseyin says he has sent dozens of people from this ancient city in southeastern Turkey to join jihadist groups in northern Syria and vows to continue helping them fulfill what he says is their duty to God.
Several hundred Turks are estimated to be among thousands of foreigners swelling the ranks of Islamist rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, generating what some politicians say is a risk that, radicalized and battle-hardened, they could one day return to stage attacks on Turkish soil.
“We send those who are in the path of God for jihad,” said Abu Huseyin, a tradesman identified by several locals as a man who helps recruit fighters for Syria from this mixed Turkish, Arab and Kurdish city 50 km (30 miles) from the Syrian frontier. “Nobody tells these people to go and fight. Most of them meet up in groups of three or five people and make their own decisions to go,” he said by telephone, declining to meet in person for fear of jeopardizing his activities.
Turkey has been an outspoken supporter of rebels fighting against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and has assisted them by keeping its border open. But Turkish opposition politicians have become increasingly alarmed as hardline Islamist groups such as al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have risen to prominence among the rebels and taken control of territory in northern Syria near the frontier. (Reuters)