Al Qaeda has set up its first bases in a NATO member-country. Wednesday, Jan. 29, the day Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down in Tehran with President Hassan Rouhani, Israel’s military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Avivi Kochavi revealed that Al Qaeda adherents fighting in Syria had established their first training facilities in Turkey. “From there, these terrorists have acquired easy access to Europe if they wish,” he commented, clearly thinking of al Qaeda’s reach into Israel as well.
Kochavi showed his audience a map illustrating the proliferation of Al Qaeda’s bases across the Middle East. The news was that the jihadists were now being trained at three Turkish facilities: Karaman, a town of 150,000 in central Anatolia, a short drive from Istanbul; Osmaniye, a particularly sensitive spot not far from the big US-Turkish base of Adana and the pipeline network carrying oil from Iraq and central Asia to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan; and the third location near Sanlilurfa-Urfa, a town of half a million in the southwest.
The intelligence chief did not say how the logistics of the three facilities were managed or where the arms and instructors came from. He remarked that week after week, Al Qaeda fighters pour into Syria from all corners of the earth, “but they don’t stay,” he said. Some certainly cross over in to Turkey; others, according to debkafile’s counter terror sources, head into Iraq to fight the Shiite government there.
The strong impression gained from Kochavi’s briefing was that Turkey is not just home to three al Qaeda training facilities and bases, but that its borders are left open for them to cross in from neighboring countries.
Al Qaeda has established itself in Turkey in locations roughly equivalent in area to the land grabbed by the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Bayt Al-Magdis terrorist coalition in Egyptian Sinai.
According to our intelligence sources, the Israeli general was uncharacteristically loquacious with five objectives in mind:
1. To point up the Turkish prime minister agenda in Tehran for linking the two non-Arab Muslim nations in a new strategic alliance for regional domination.
2. As a reminder that Iran too has a history of quietly admitting al Qaeda terrorists and giving them a safe springboard for attacks around the Middle East – especially against Saudi Arabia and Gulf emirates, on which Tehran had subversive designs. Neither of the two new allies, Turkey and Iran, would have any qualms about using al Qaeda terrorism to promote their agendas.
3. The need to alert European members of NATO to the creep of a terrorist menace closer than ever before to Western national borders, a movement facilitated by a fellow member.
4. To bring to the Obama administration’s full attention the fallout from its détente with Iran and the ayatollahs' hidden designs for the Middle East. Tehran’s affinity for terrorist methods and partners underlies all its actions.
5. The Israeli general brought out his big guns additionally in an effort to stem the mass-pilgrimage of prominent Middle East figures to Tehran which has been taking place since the signing of the interim nuclear accord in November. Even the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas sent a messenger to the Iranian capital to test the prospects of an understanding between Tehran and Ramallah.
The messenger, Fatah party high-up Jibril Rajoub, was received by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zerif Wednesday. After the meeting, the Palestinian came out with an extraordinary comment: “Our cards are shown and we are speaking frankly, we aren’t trying to cheat or manipulate anyone.”
This sounded suspiciously as though the Iranians did not entirely trust the Palestinian messenger.
Two days later, Rajib went on record to demand a role for Iran in the Israel-Palestinian negotiations led by US Secretary of State John Kerry.