Successive American administrations and the State Department have often shut their eyes to international terrorism and even covered it up.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and America’s Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) looms, this shocks the conscience. It also endangers the homeland and our military men and women overseas.
We’ll prove that Turkey and Azerbaijan remain among the most egregious sponsors of international terrorist organizations and that the U.S. covers for those countries.
Among these organizations: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Ansar Al-Din, Hamza Division, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, Jaysh Al-Sunna, Sultan Murad Brigade, Sultan Suleyman Shah Brigade/Al-Amshat, and more.
- Ahmet S. Yayla, Turkey’s counterterrorism chief from 2010-13, has acknowledged that “Turkey was a central hub for … over 50,000 ISIS foreign fighters, and the main source of ISIS logistical materials [including] IEDs, making Turkey and ISIS practically allies.”
- Veteran State Department adviser Dr. David L. Phillips directs Columbia University’s Peace-building and Human Rights Program. Its research confirmed Turkey’s alliance with ISIS: ISIS-Turkey Links (2014) and Turkey-ISIS Oil Trade (2015/2016).
- In Turkey: A state sponsor of terrorism? (May 28), Phillips wrote that if a “non-NATO country behaved like Turkey, it would warrant designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” like Iran and North Korea.
He also describes Turkey’s sending terrorist mercenaries (some listed above) into Azerbaijan against Armenian-populated Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh in 2020.
- In 2014, the New York Times reported that “Western intelligence officials … track the ISIS oil shipments … into Turkey” and that Turkey has failed “to help choke off the oil trade.”
- In January and July, the U.S. Treasury Department identified Turkey as a financial base for ISIS and Al-Qaeda. However, the U.S. has penalized only some Turkish individuals and companies, not Turkey itself. Regardless, the effect has been minimal.
- In the early 1990s, Azerbaijan—with Turkey’s help—recruited Mujahedin, Pakistanis, and others to attack Armenians.
- Al-Qaeda cells in Baku helped to carry out the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. A dozen Americans and 212 others died.
- Throughout 2020, Azerbaijan deployed thousands of terrorist mercenaries against Armenian-populated Artsakh and Armenia. Turkey had transported them from Syria and Libya.
These included war criminal and former ISIS commander Sayf Balud.
- The independent, UK-based, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed Azerbaijan’s using such mercenaries—numbering in the thousands with 145 dead.
- Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights has identified the chief commanders, including Fehim Isa of the Sultan Murad Brigade, and their organizations—many of them murderers, rapists, kidnappers, and desecrators.
Azerbaijan is also violating the UN Convention against the Use of Mercenaries which it signed in 1997. In November, the UN’s Working Group on Mercenaries excoriated Turkey and Azerbaijan. However, the UN’s leading member has refused to raise this issue.
Candidate Joe Biden pledged to “rally the world” against “transnational terrorism.” Yet the White House has done nothing about Azeri terrorism. Armenia, incidentally, is the only country in that region with no ties to international terrorism.
We’ve let our government make a farce of the GWOT.
On July 21, Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland about “Turkey facilitating the transfer of fighters from Syria to Azerbaijan” last year.
Her “answer”? She’d discuss it only “in another setting,” as if Menendez’s assertion wasn’t already public knowledge.
Thus, Nuland covered for Azerbaijan and Turkey.
At a 2016 public forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I quizzed then-U.S Ambassador to Armenia Richard M. Mills about Turkey’s support for ISIS.
I also mentioned that I’d be distributing Dr. David L. Phillips’ ISIS-Turkey Links study to the audience.
Mills angrily denied any and all ties between Turkey and ISIS or similar groups. Like Nuland, he covered for Turkey.
We know Mills lied because in 2014 Vice President Biden told his Harvard audience that Turkey and others had been giving “hundreds of millions of dollars [and] tons of weapons” to Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
President Obama immediately covered for Turkey by ordering Biden to apologize to President Erdogan.
Just after 9/11, then-U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ross L. Wilson spoke at Harvard before a small group that included me.
I grilled him about a study on Azerbaijan’s being a terrorist hub.
Wilson angrily denied it all even though the State Department had publicly acknowledged that Al-Qaeda in Azerbaijan had helped to carry out 1998’s American embassy bombings.
Like the others, Wilson covered for Turkey.
Silence isn’t golden
The State Department apparently believes that terrorists are acceptable—provided they’re backed by a NATO member (Turkey) or a country (Azerbaijan) with sundry gas and oil fields.
The relative silence of Americans and American organizations who favor a strong military, declare their opposition to terrorism, and lay claim to the religious high ground is similarly hypocritical.
Let us speak up and take action—or become complicit.
David Boyajian’s primary foreign policy focus is the Caucasus. His work can be found at http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.