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State-sponsored terrorism is government support of violent non-state actors engaged in terrorism. Because of the pejorative nature of the word, the identification of particular examples are usually subject to political dispute and different definitions of terrorism.
- 1 By countries
- 2 See also
- 3 References
- 4 Further reading
- 5 External links
Afghanistan's KHAD is one of four secret service agencies believed to have possibly conducted terrorist bombing in Pakistan North-west during the early 1980s; then by late 1980s U.S state department blamed WAD (a KGB created Afghan secret intelligence agency) for terrorist bombing Pakistani cities. Furthermore, Afghanistan security agencies supported the terrorist organization called Al zulfiqar since the 1970s–1990s ;the terrorist group that conducted hijacking in March 1981 of a Pakistan International Airlines plane from Karachi to Kabul.
India's Research and Analysis Wing has been accused of training and arming the Sri Lankan Tamil group, LTTE, during the 1970s when it was not considered a terrorist organization by any country but it later withdrew its support in the 1980s, when the activities of LTTE became serious, becoming the first country to ban LTTE as a terrorist organization. Although the Indian Government banned the group, the LTTE continued to operate freely and continued to have links with RAW until the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. From August 1983 to May 1987, India, through its intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), provided arms, training and monetary support to six Sri Lankan Tamil insurgent groups including the LTTE. During that period, 32 terror training camps were set up in India to train these 495 LTTE insurgents, including 90 women who were trained in 10 batches. The first batch of Tigers were trained in Establishment 22 based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand. The second batch, including LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman, trained in Himachal Pradesh. Prabakaran visited the first and the second batch of Tamil Tigers to see them training. Eight other batches of LTTE were trained in Tamil Nadu. Thenmozhi Rajaratnam alias Dhanu, who carried out the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Sivarasan—the key conspirator were among the militants trained by RAW, in Nainital, India. In April 1984, the LTTE formally joined a common militant front, the Eelam National Liberation Front (ENLF), a union between LTTE, the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS), the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF). These Indian trained groups later carried out some of the most devastating terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
Pakistani Government and ISI have accused Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for providing arms, training and financial aid to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in an attempt to destabilize Pakistan. Brahamdagh Bugti stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India in his terrorist activities in Balochistan. Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of supporting Baloch rebels, and Wright-Neville writes that outside Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the BLA. In August 2013 US Special Representative James Dobbins said Pakistan's fears over India's role in Afghanistan were “not groundless". A diplomatic cable sent on December 31, 2009, from the U.S. consulate in Karachi and obtained by WikiLeaks said it was "plausible" that Indian intelligence was helping the Baluch insurgents. An earlier 2008 cable, discussing the Mumbai attacks reported fears by British officials that "intense domestic pressure would force Delhi to respond, at the minimum, by ramping up covert support to nationalist militants fighting the Pakistani army in Baluchistan." Another cable dating back to 2009 showed that UAE officials believed India was secretly supporting Tehreek-e-Taliban insurgents and separatists in northwest Pakistan.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was instrumental in founding, training, and supplying Hezbollah, a group designated a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" by the United States Department of State, and likewise labeled a terrorist organization by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The European Union, however, differentiates between the political, social, and military wings of Hezbollah, designating only the Hezbollah Military Wing as a terrorist organization
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Yemen have accused the previous Ahmadinejad administration of sponsoring terrorism either in their or against their, respective countries. The United Kingdom and the United States have also accused Iran of backing Shia militias in Iraq, which have at times attacked Coalition troops, Iraqi Sunni militias and civilians, and Anglo-American-supported Iraqi government forces.
The 'Lavon Affair' refers to a failed Israeli covert operation, code named 'Operation Susannah', conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954. As part of the false flag operation, a group of Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned civilian targets, cinemas, libraries and American educational centers. The bombs were timed to detonate several hours after closing time. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists, "unspecified malcontents" or "local nationalists" with the aim of creating a climate of sufficient violence and instability to induce the British government to retain its occupying troops in Egypt's Suez Canal zone. The operation caused no casualties, except for operative Philip Natanson, when a bomb he was taking to place in a movie theater ignited prematurely in his pocket; for two members of the cell who committed suicide after being captured; and for two operatives who were tried, convicted and executed by Egypt.
The operation ultimately became known as the 'Lavon Affair' after the Israeli defense minister Pinhas Lavon was forced to resign as a consequence of the incident. Before Lavon's resignation, the incident had been euphemistically referred to in Israel as the "Unfortunate Affair" or "The Bad Business" (Hebrew: העסק הביש, HaEsek HaBish). After Israel publicly denied any involvement in the incident for 51 years, the surviving agents were officially honored in 2005 by being awarded certificates of appreciation by Israeli President Moshe Katzav.
It is widely believed, and often discussed in the Italian Parliament, that especially before 1990 certain branches of the State (stato deviato or servizi segreti deviati) promoted or supported certain terrorist acts as part of a strategy of tension to reinforce the power of certain governing forces.
After the military overthrow of King Idris in 1969 the Libyan Arab Republic (later the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), the new government supported (with weapon supplies, training camps located within Libya and monetary finances) an array of armed paramilitary groups both left and right-wing. Leftist and socialist groups included the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty, the Umkhonto We Sizwe, the Polisario Front, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Free Aceh Movement, Free Papua Movement, Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front, Republic of South Maluku and the Moro National Liberation Front of the Philippines.
Citing Operation Merdeka, an alleged Philippine plot to incite unrest in Sabah and reclaimed the disputed territory, Malaysia funded and trained secessionists groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front as a retaliation.
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Pakistan has been accused by India, Afghanistan, Israel, United Kingdom, of involvement in Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. Poland has also alleged that terrorists have "friends in Pakistani government structures". In July 2009, the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari admitted that the Pakistani government had "created and nurtured" terrorist groups to achieve its short-term foreign policy goals. According to an analysis published by Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution in 2008, Pakistan was the worlds 'most active' state sponsor of terrorism including aiding groups which were considered a direct threat to the United States.
The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has stated that it was training more than 3,000 militants from various nationalities. According to some reports published by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Pakistan military and the ISI have provided covert support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed". Pakistan has denied any involvement in terrorist activities in Kashmir, arguing that it only provides political and moral support to the secessionist groups who wish to escape Indian rule. Many Kashmiri militant groups also maintain their headquarters in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is cited as further proof by the Indian government. Many of the terrorist organisations are banned by the UN, but continue to operate under different names.
The United Nations Organization has publicly increased pressure on Pakistan on its inability to control its Afghanistan border and not restricting the activities of Taliban leaders who have been designated by the UN as terrorists.
Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist, has accused Pakistan's ISI of providing help to the Taliban. Author Ted Galen Carpenter echoed that statement, stating that Pakistan "... assisted rebel forces in Kashmir even though those groups have committed terrorist acts against civilians" Author Gordon Thomas stated that whilst aiding in the capture of al-Qaeda members, Pakistan "still sponsored terrorist groups in the disputed state of Kashmir, funding, training and arming them in their war on attrition against India." Journalist Stephen Schwartz notes that several militant and criminal groups are "backed by senior officers in the Pakistani army, the country's ISI intelligence establishment and other armed bodies of the state." According to one author, Daniel Byman, "Pakistan is probably today's most active sponsor of terrorism."
The Inter-Services Intelligence has often been accused of playing a role in major terrorist attacks across the world including the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, terrorism in Kashmir, Mumbai Train Bombings, Indian Parliament Attack, Varnasi bombings, Hyderabad bombings and Mumbai terror attacks. The ISI is also accused of supporting Taliban forces and recruiting and training mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Based on communication intercepts US intelligence agencies concluded Pakistan's ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, a charge that the governments of India and Afghanistan had laid previously. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has constantly reiterated allegations that militants operating training camps in Pakistan have used it as a launch platform to attack targets in Afghanistan, urged western military allies to target extremist hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan. When the United States, during the Clinton administration, targeted al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan with cruise missiles, Slate reported that two officers of the ISI were killed.
Pakistan is accused of sheltering and training the Taliban as strategic asset in operations "which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support," as reported by Human Rights Watch.
Pakistan was also responsible for the evacuation of about 5,000 of the top leadership of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who were encircled by Nato forces in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. This event known as the Kunduz airlift, which is also popularly called the "Airlift of Evil", involved several Pakistani Air Force transport planes flying multiple sorties over a number of days.
On May 1, 2011 Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, he was living in a safe house less than a mile away from, what is called the West Point of Pakistan, the Pakistan Military Academy. This has given rise to numerous allegations of an extensive support system for Osama Bin Laden was in place by the Government and Military of Pakistan.
Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan President, had admitted in 2016 that Pakistan supported and trained terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1990s to carry out militancy in Kashmir and Pakistan was in favour of religious militancy in 1979. He said that Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed were seen as heroes in Pakistan during the 1990s. He added that later on this religious militancy turned into terrorism and they started killing their own people. He also stated that Pakistan trained the Taliban to fight against Russia, saying that the Taliban Osama Bin Laden, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Ayman al-Zawahiri were heroes for Pakistan however later they became villains.
In 2011 the Washington Times reported that Qatar was providing weapons and funding to Abdelhakim Belhadj, leader of the formerly U.S. designated terrorist group, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and then leader of the conservative Islamist Al-Watan Party.
In December 2012 the New York Times accused the Qatari regime of funding the Al-Nusra Front, a U.S. government designated terrorist organization. The Financial Times noted Emir Hamad's visit to Gaza and meeting with Hamas, another internationally designated terrorist organization. Spanish football club FC Barcelona were coming under increasing pressure to tear up their £125m shirt sponsorship contract with the Qatar Foundation after claims the so-called charitable trust finances Hamas. The fresh controversy follows claims made by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that the Qatar Foundation had given money to cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who is alleged to be an advocate of terrorism, wife beating and antisemitism.
In January 2013 French politicians again accused the Qatari Government of giving material support to Islamist groups in Mali and the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying that "The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa have all received cash from Doha."
In October 2014, it was revealed that a former Qatari Interior Ministry official, Salim Hasan Khalifa Rashid al-Kuwari, had been named by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as an al Qaeda financier, with allegations that he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the terrorist group. Kuwari worked for the civil defense department of the Interior Ministry in 2009, two years before he was designated for his support of al Qaeda.
A number of wealthy Qataris are accused of sponsoring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In response to public criticism over Qatari connections to ISIL, the government has pushed back and denied supporting the group.
Alexander J. Motyl, professor of political science at Rutgers University argues that Russia's direct and indirect involvement in the violence in eastern Ukraine qualifies as a state-sponsored terrorism, and that those involved qualify as "terrorist groups." Behaviour by Russia with its neighbours was named by Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, who gave an interview to the BBC, in which she repeated her charge, saying that “Russia demonstrates the qualities of a terrorist state.”
In May 2016, Reuters published a Special Report titled "How Russia allowed homegrown radicals to go and fight in Syria" that, based on first-hand evidence, said that at least in the period between 2012 and 2014 the Russian government agencies ran a programme to facilitate and encourage Russian radicals and militants to leave Russia and go to Turkey and then on to Syria; the persons in question had joined jihadist groups, some fighting with the ISIL.
While Saudi Arabia is often a secondary source of funds and support for terror movements who can find more motivated and ideologically invested benefactors (e.g. Qatar), Saudi Arabia arguably remains the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism, allegedly supporting groups as disparate as the Afghanistan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.
Saudi Arabia is said to be the world's largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism, which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and others. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide, according to Hillary Clinton. According to a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state, "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups."
The violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is partly bankrolled by wealthy, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them. Three other Arab countries which are listed as sources of militant money are Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, all neighbors of Saudi Arabia. Taliban and their militant partners the Haqqani network earn "significant funds" through UAE-based businesses. Kuwait is described as a "source of funds and a key transit point" for al-Qaida and other militant groups. The Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005. According to studies, most of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis. 15 of the 19 hijackers of the four airliners who were responsible for 9/11 originated from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. Osama bin Laden was born and educated in Saudi Arabia.
Starting in the mid-1970s the Islamic resurgence was funded by an abundance of money from Saudi Arabian oil exports. The tens of billions of dollars in "petro-Islam" largess obtained from the recently heightened price of oil funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith."
Throughout the Sunni Muslim world, religious institutions for people both young and old, from children's maddrassas to high-level scholarships received Saudi funding, "books, scholarships, fellowships, and mosques" (for example, "more than 1500 mosques were built and paid for with money obtained from public Saudi funds over the last 50 years"), along with training in the Kingdom for the preachers and teachers who went on to teach and work at these universities, schools, mosques, etc. The funding was also used to reward journalists and academics who followed the Saudis' strict interpretation of Islam; and satellite campuses were built around Egypt for Al Azhar, the world's oldest and most influential Islamic university.
The interpretation of Islam promoted by this funding was the strict, conservative Saudi-based Wahhabism or Salafism. In its harshest form it preached that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way", but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake", that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century", that Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslims were "infidels", etc. According to former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, while this effort has by no means converted all, or even most, Muslims to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, it has done much to overwhelm more moderate local interpretations of Islam in Southeast Asia, and to pitch the Saudi-interpretation of Islam as the "gold standard" of religion in minds of Muslims across the globe.
Patrick Cockburn accused Saudi Arabia of supporting extremist Islamist groups in the Syrian Civil War, writing: "In Syria, in early 2015, it supported the creation of the Army of Conquest, primarily made up of the al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra Front and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham, which won a series of victories against the Syrian Army in Idlib province."
While the Saudi government denies claims that it exports religious or cultural extremism, it is argued that by its nature, Wahhabism encourages intolerance and promotes terrorism. Former CIA director James Woolsey described it as "the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are flourishing." In 2015, Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, accused Saudi Arabia of supporting intolerance and extremism, saying: "Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities." In May 2016, The New York Times editorialised that the kingdom allied to the U.S. had "spent untold millions promoting Wahhabism, the radical form of Sunni Islam that inspired the 9/11 hijackers and that now inflames the Islamic State".
Soviet secret services worked to establish a network of terrorist front organizations and have been described as the primary promoters of terrorism worldwide. According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, General Aleksandr Sakharovsky from the First Chief Directorate of the KGB once said: "In today’s world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon." He also claimed that "Airplane hijacking is my own invention". George Habash, who worked under the KGB's guidance, explained: "Killing one Jew far away from the field of battle is more effective than killing a hundred Jews on the field of battle, because it attracts more attention."
Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa described the operation "SIG" ("Zionist Governments") that was devised in 1972, to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the United States. KGB chairman Yury Andropov allegedly explained to Pacepa that "a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States."
The following organizations have been allegedly established with assistance from Eastern Bloc security services: the PLO, the National Liberation Army of Bolivia (created in 1964 with help from Ernesto Che Guevara); the National Liberation Army of Colombia (created in 1965 with help from Cuba), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in 1969, and the Secret Army for Liberation of Armenia in 1975.
The leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, established close collaboration with the Romanian Securitate service and the Soviet KGB in the beginning of the 1970s. The secret training of PLO guerrillas was provided by the KGB. However, the main KGB activities and arms shipments were channeled through Wadie Haddad of the DFLP organization, who usually stayed in a KGB dacha BARVIKHA-1 during his visits to Russia. Led by Carlos the Jackal, a group of PFLP fighters accomplished a spectacular raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna in 1975. Advance notice of this operation "was almost certainly" given to the KGB.
A number of notable operations have been conducted by the KGB to support international terrorists with weapons on the orders from the Soviet Communist Party, including:
- Transfer of machine-guns, automatic rifles, Walther pistols, and cartridges to the Official Irish Republican Army by the Soviet intelligence vessel Reduktor (operation SPLASH) in 1972 to fulfill a personal request of arms from Michael O'Riordan.
- Transfer of anti-tank grenade RPG-7 launchers, radio-controlled SNOP mines, pistols with silencers, machine guns, and other weaponry to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine through Wadi Haddad who was recruited as a KGB agent in 1970 (operation VOSTOK, "East").
- Support of the Sandinista movement. The leading role here belonged to the General Intelligence Directorate of Communist Cuba.
- Support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, in order to destabilize Turkey, a key NATO member during the Cold War.
Large-scale terrorist operations have been prepared by the KGB and GRU against the United States, Canada and Europe, according to the Mitrokhin Archive, GRU defectors Victor Suvorov and Stanislav Lunev, and former SVR officer Kouzminov. Among the planned operations were the following:
- Large arms caches were allegedly hidden in many countries for the planned terrorism acts. They were booby-trapped with "Lightning" explosive devices. One of such cache, which was identified by Mitrokhin, exploded when Swiss authorities tried to remove it from woods near Bern. Several others caches (probably not equipped with the "Lightnings") were removed successfully.
- Preparations for nuclear sabotage. Some of the allegedly hidden caches could contain portable tactical nuclear weapons known as RA-115 "suitcase bombs" prepared to assassinate US leaders in the event of war, according to GRU defector Stanislav Lunev. Lunev states that he had personally looked for hiding places for weapons caches in the Shenandoah Valley area and that "it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear weapons into the US" ether across the Mexican border or using a small transport missile that can slip undetected when launched from a Russian airplane.
- Extensive sabotage plans in London, Washington, Paris, Bonn, Rome, and other Western capitals have been revealed by KGB defector Oleg Lyalin in 1971, including plan to flood the London underground and deliver poison capsules to Whitehall. This disclosure triggered mass expulsion of Russian spies from London.
- FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca Amador was described as "a trusted agent" in KGB files. "Sandinista guerrillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border".
- Disruption of the power supply in the entire New York State by KGB sabotage teams, which would be based along the Delaware River, in the Big Spring Park.
- An "immensely detailed" plan to destroy "oil refineries and oil and gas pipelines across Canada from British Columbia to Montreal" (operation "Cedar") has been prepared, which took twelve years to complete.
- A plan for sabotage of Hungry Horse Dam in Montana.
- A detailed plan to destroy the port of New York (target GRANIT); most vulnerable points of the port were marked at maps.
Sudan has been considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the US government since 1993, has formerly had UN sanctions placed against it by the United Nations for sheltering suspects of the murder of Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt. Sudan has been suspected of harboring members of the terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Abu Nidal Organization, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, as well as supporting insurgencies in Uganda, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Voice of America News reported that Sudan is suspected by US officials of allowing the Lord's Resistance Army to operate within it's borders.
Sudan has allowed members of Hamas to travel to and live in the country, as well as raise funds, though the presence of terrorists in Sudan has largely been a secondary concern in terms of Sudanese sponsorship of terror to the facilitation of material supplies to terrorist groups though the use of Sudan by Palestine-based terrorist organizations has declined in recent years. The Allied Democratic Forces, designated as a terrorist organization by Uganda, is supported by Sudan and suspected of affiliation with widely designated terrorist group Al-Shabaab
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were formerly based in Sudan during the early 1990s. The US and Israel have conducted operations against Sudanese targets affiliated with terrorist groups as recently as 2012.
Ever since the election of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) into power in 2002, Turkey has been associated with several paramilitary organizations or political organizations with military wings, all of Sunni Islamist ideology, some of which have been designated terrorist organizations by various countries. Turkey either does not accept these designations or denies being involved with the ones that it also considers terrorist organziations.
Turkey is a prominent supporter of Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union. Turkey considers Hamas a legitimate political party, and this position is shared by Russia and China. Turkey's support for Hamas includes providing them with headquarters in Istanbul and prominently inviting the leadership to public receptions and AKP congresses.
Al-Qaeda and the Army of Conquest — Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have supported the Army of Conquest, a coalition of Salafist and Islamist Syrian rebel groups. The coalition includes the al-Nusra Front (the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda) and Ahrar al-Sham, but it also included non-al-Qaeda-linked Islamist factions, such as the Sham Legion, that have received covert arms support from the United States. According to The Independent, some Turkish officials admitted giving logistical and intelligence support to the command center of the coalition, but denied giving direct help to al-Nusra, while acknowledging that the group would be beneficiaries. It also reported that some rebels and officials claim that material support in the form of money and weapons to the Islamist groups was being given by Saudis with Turkey facilitating its passage. Al-Ahram reported that President Obama of the United States chose not to confront Saudi Arabia and Qatar over the issue at a May 2015 meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, although al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham troops made up 90% of the troops in the Idlib region, where they were making substantial gains against the Assad government.
Turkey had reportedly criticised designation of the Nusra Front as a terrorist organisation. Feridun Sinirlioğlu had reportedly told his American interlocutors that it was more important to focus on the "chaos" that Assad has created instead of groups such as al-Nusra. Al-Monitor claimed in 2013 that Turkey was reconsidering its support for Nusra. Turkey's designation of the Nusra Front as a terrorist group since June 2014 was seen as an indication of it giving up on the group. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Leader of the Opposition in Turkey has alleged that Erdogan and his government have supported terrorism in Syria. In June 2014, İhsan Özkes, a parliamentarian from CHP, claimed that a directive had been signed by Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler, ordering the provision of support to Al-Nusra against PYD. Güler denied this claim and argued that a directive with the letterhead of the Governor's Office of Hatay could not be possibly signed by a minister, which is a direct proof of the document's inauthenticity. Former United States Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone claimed that Turkey had directly supported and worked with Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda's wing in Syria for a period of time thinking that they could work with extremist Islamist groups and push them to become more moderate at the same time, an attempt which failed. He said that that he tried to persuade the Turkish government to close its borders to the groups, but to no avail. Seymour Hersh in an article published on London Review of Books on April 17, 2014 claimed that senior US military leaders and the intelligence community were concerned about Turkey's role and stated that Erdogan was a supporter of al-Nusra Front and other Islamist rebel groups.
RT reported in March 2016 that al-Nusra had pitched their camps along the Turkish border and regularly receives supply from the Turkish side near the border town of Azaz. While filming a number of vehicles coming from the Turkish side through the Bab al-Salam crossing to Azaz, the RT crew reported that Turkish military vehicles were at most a kilometre away from them. Abdu Ibrahim, head of YPG in Afrin claimed that Turkey was definitely providing support to al-Nusra. Some Syrian rebels also told RT that Turkey was providing support to ISIL and al-Nusra. This claim was branded "an ugly lie" by the Turkish media and attributed to the impaired relationship between Russia and Turkey after the 2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown incident and to the fact that RT is a Russian state agency. In October 2016, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish foreign minister, called on the al-Nusra Front to withdraw from Aleppo and called on other Syrian rebel groups to split from Nusra.
On 5 May 2017, Mehmet Görmez, the Turkish president of religious affairs, met with Harith al-Dhari, an Iraqi Sunni cleric who was designated by the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee as an "individual associated with al-Qaeda" in 2010. Al-Dhari was reported to have "provided operational guidance, financial support, and other services to or in support of al-Qaeda in Iraq."
Islamic State — Turkey reportedly welcomed any anti-Assad group including Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters before the Reyhanlı bombings and wounded fighters were treated in Turkish hospitals. Turkey's border region has been used as a vital supply route by ISIL and it had earlier indiscriminately allowed fighters and weapons to flow across the border. An ISIL commander staying in Turkey told The Washington Post that most of their fighters, equipment and supplies during the beginning of the war came via Turkey. Taraf claimed that Ahmet El H., one of ISIL's top commanders was treated at a Turkish hospital along with other ISIL fighters and the cost of their treatment was paid by the government. Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, on the other hand, told the media that Turkish doctors would not discriminate between patients and ISIL members could also be treated in Turkish hospitals. 2014 National Intelligence Organisation scandal in Turkey caused a major controversy in Turkey. The critiques of the government claimed that the Turkish government has been providing arms to ISIL, while the Turkish government has maintained that the trucks were bound for the Bayırbucak Turkmens, who are opposed the Assad regime in Syria.
In 2014, Sky News reported that the Turkish government had stamped passports of foreigners seeking to cross the border and join ISIL. However, it was also reported by Sky News that ISIL members use fake passports in order to get to Syria and Turkish officials can not easily identify the authenticity of these documents.
Turkey has been alleged to have assisted ISIL during the Siege of Kobani. The Mayor of Kobani Anwar Moslem in an interview with Mutlu Civiroglu in September 2014 was asked about speculations in Kurdish media of Turkey assisting ISIL and a train being sent to the border carrying assistance for the ISIL. He in turn responded that the Kurds had information that 2 days before the start of the war, trains carrying forces and ammunition which were passing had an-hour-and-ten-to-twenty-minute-long stops in 3 Turkish villages and there was even evidence about this. He also said that it was attention-grabbing that ISIL was only strong to the east of Kobani but not in other directions. Diken reported on October 1 that ISIL fighters heading towards Kobani crossed the borders from Turkey into Syria in full view of Turkish soldiers. YPG commander Meysa Abdo in an op-ed written for NYTimes on October 28 claimed there is evidence that Turkish forces have allowed the Islamic State’s men and equipment to move back and forth across the border. On November 29, Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union party, reportedly said that ISIL started to attack them from all four sides for the first time, which is a direct indication of Turkey's support for ISIL. Turkey's hesitation to help YPG in the fight against ISIL was reportedly caused by YPG's affiliation with PKK, but Turkey later changed its position and provided support to the Kurds. Ahmet Gerdi, a KRG general, told the Turkish press that they appreciate Turkey's help in their fight against ISIL.
The New York Times reported on September 13, 2014 that the US government had tried to persuade Turkey to crack down on oil being sold by ISIL but had failed. John R. Bass, the US Ambassador to Turkey, told the press in 2016 that the allegations about the Turkish government's involvement in ISIL oil trade are unfounded, citing the official apology issued by the CIA with regards to the allegations in 2014. Fehim Taştekin reported on Radikal about illegal pipelines transporting oil from nearby Syria to border towns in Turkey. This oil was sold cheap. He also indicated that many of these pipelines were demolished once his article was published. Russia's Defence Ministry claimed in December 2015 that Turkey was buying oil from ISIL and released satellite images purporting to show Turkish tanker-trucks filling up with oil at an installation inside ISIL-controlled territory in Syria. A footage was released by Russian spies later in December that purportedly showed thousands of trucks and tankers and trucks carrying ISIL's oil entering Turkey through Iraqi border. In response to this, Serko Cevdet, the head of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) energy commission, told the Turkish media that the trucks in question actually belonged to the Kurds and there was no way that ISIL could have transported them through a Kurdish controlled territory due to the ongoing conflict between the Kurds and ISIL. Fawaz Gerges from the London School of Economics and Political Science argued that the claims about Turkey's involvement in ISIL oil trade are conspiracy theories. A report leaked by Klassekampen in December 2015 that was put together by Rystad Energy claimed that most of the oil smuggled by the group was destined for Turkey and many smugglers and corrupt border guards facilitated in exporting it. This report was issued upon the request of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. However, when approached by the Irish media about the issue, the officials emphasized on the fact that the report represents the views of its author.
Turkistan Islamic Party — Arab media claimed that the village of Az-Zanbaqi (الزنبقي) in Jisr al-Shughur's countryside has become a base for a massive amount of Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party militants and their families in Syria, estimated at around 3,500. They further accused the Turkish intelligence of being involved in transporting these Uyghurs via Turkey to Syria, with the aim of using them first in Syria to help Jabhat Al-Nusra and gain combat experience fighting against the Syrian Army before sending them back to Xinjiang to fight against China if they manage to survive. Arab news agencies reported that the Uyghurs in the Turkistan Islamic Party, the Chechens in Junud al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are being coordinated by Turkish intelligence to work with the Army of Conquest. Turkish media agencies, on the other hand, denied this and claimed that it was a scheme of the Chinese government to promise a holy cause and new lands to Uyghur forces with Islamic tendencies, which would eventually be cited by the government as the reason for more oppressive policies towards the Uyghur people. The validity of the Chinese claims had also been challenged by Sean Roberts of Georgetown University in an article on global terrorism. Conversely, other reports emphasized on the Uyghur fighters' ties with ISIL, which lead to the 2017 Istanbul nightclub shooting against Turkey.
In the 20th century, the United Kingdom (UK) has been accused of supporting Ulster loyalist paramilitaries during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. During the 1970s, a group of loyalists known as the "Glenanne gang" carried out numerous shootings and bombings against Irish Catholics and Irish nationalists in an area of Northern Ireland known as the "murder triangle". It also carried out some cross-border attacks in the Republic of Ireland. The group included members of the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as well as British soldiers and RUC police officers. It was allegedly commanded by British Military Intelligence and RUC Special Branch. Evidence suggests that the group was responsible for the deaths of about 120 civilians. The Cassel Report investigated 76 killings attributed to the group and found evidence that soldiers and policemen were involved in 74 of those. One former member, RUC officer John Weir, claimed his superiors knew of the group's activities but allowed it to continue. Attacks attributed to the group include the Dublin and Monaghan bombings (which killed 34 civilians), the Miami Showband killings and the Reavey and O'Dowd killings. The UK is also accused of providing intelligence material, training, firearms, explosives and lists of people that the security forces wanted to have killed.
The Stevens Inquiries concluded that the Force Research Unit (FRU), a covert British Army intelligence unit, helped loyalists to kill people, including civilians. FRU commanders say their plan was to make loyalist groups "more professional" by helping them target IRA activists and prevent them killing civilians. The Stevens Inquiries found evidence only two lives were saved and that FRU was involved with at least 30 loyalist killings and many other attacks – many of the victims uninvolved civilians. One of the most prominent victims was solicitor Pat Finucane. A FRU double-agent also helped ship weapons to loyalists from South Africa. Members of the British security forces had tried to obstruct the Stevens investigation.
The U.S., since 1979, funded and armed Afghan jihadists under the Operation Cyclone as part of the Reagan Doctrine, which arguably contributed to the creation of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. However, scholars such as Jason Burke, Steve Coll, Peter Bergen, Christopher Andrew, and Vasily Mitrokhin have argued that Bin Laden was "outside of CIA eyesight" and that there is "no support" in any "reliable source" for "the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen."
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