His work was primarily concerned with terrorist and related activities of ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, Hezbollah, the PKK, and other global terrorist organizations and he was responsible for several successful operations against the above-listed terrorist organizations. Dr. Yayla designed and administered counter-terrorism and intelligence activities and operations for precautionary measures in the city of Şanlıurfa, located at the Turkish-Syrian border and at the borders of the current ongoing war-zone in Syria.
Dr. Yayla’s research mainly focuses on terrorism, radicalization, countering violence extremism (CVE) and the Middle East. He has earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees on the subject of terrorism and radicalization at the University of North Texas. He has authored and co-authored several articles and books on the subject of terrorism and violence including First Responders’ Guide to Professionally Interacting with Muslim Communities: Law Enforcement, Emergency and Fire Fighters, Understanding and Responding to Terrorism: A Complete Model to Deal with Terrorism and Terrorism: A Global Perspective.
Robert R. Reilly:
I’m so happy to welcome our speaker, Ahmet Yayla, who is coauthor of the just released book, which you see here, ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate, which we have available for sale and Dr. Yayla will be happy to sign these books for you after his presentation. Now, he is Deputy Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He is also Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. He formerly served as Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Harran University in Turkey and most pertinent for our subject matter this evening, he is the former Chief of Counterterrorism and Operations Division for the Turkish National Police with a 20-year career interviewing terrorists and ISIS defectors. His work was primarily concerned with terrorist and related activities of ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, Hezbollah, the PKK, and other terrorist organizations. He was responsible for several successful operations against the above-listed terrorist organizations. Tonight he’s going to address us on the subject of Turkey, the Coup, and ISIS. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Yayla.
I’ll start with the coup attempt and then I’ll jump into the ISIS as I think these are the most important occurrings right now in the Middle East and in Turkey, which are very much related and most of them which are very much misunderstood, so I think it is essential that we understand them well to better analyze what’s going on over there. Before I speak about the coup, I would like to speak about the pre-coup atmosphere in Turkey.
So what was going on? Beginning [in] 2011, we have started the problems in our south basically in Syria with the opposition rising against Bashar Assad. What happened was Turkey adopted a policy which is [an] open border policy to let all of the Syrian refugees in without any questions but at the same time let anyone coming from Syria also in whether it be a Jabhat al-Nusra member, Al Qaeda member, or other different jihadi terrorist organization members and base themselves inside the country and carry out their operations through Turkey, especially the southern border towns, including Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Kilis, [and] Hatay where the border was like [the] American-Mexican border, wide, flat and which was not very well controlled also. On top of that, by the end of 2013, ISIS rised and we had started to see a lot of ISIS fighters going through Turkey to join ISIS, especially the foreign fighters coming from the West and even from Northern Africa. To this day, the total number is calculated at 38,000 just went through Turkey to join ISIS and almost none of those ISIS fighters were stopped in or at the borders of Turkey and sent back. The numbers who were stopped were circumstantial. Basically, they by themselves went to the police and asked almost the police to stop them to go- like for example, three Westerners went to the police at the border and told to the police there they would like to join ISIS and pass the border. But, there is a story behind it. The ISIS members who had already passed and joined the ISIS, speaking so easily about passing the borders, so they thought that they were passing legally with passports to join ISIS. So what happened? …