Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using charities as a cover to create a network between his government and terrorist organisations to expand logistical hub for jihadist networks in the South Asia region. According to the latest report by Swedish media outlet Nordic Monitor, Turkey is using an al-Qaeda-linked charity group – The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı or IHH) to broaden its support base among the country’s minority Muslim community and to expand logistical operations in support of global jihadist networks.
The Turkish charity group IHH has been working with Islami Sangh Nepal (ISN), its regional partner in South Asia. The ISN, which has been receiving funding directly from Turkey to finance various projects in Nepal, focuses its operations in areas close to Nepal’s border with India. Through ISN, the al-Qaeda linked IHH is seeking to gain a foothold in the region.
Both organisations are now under the lens of Indian intelligence services, which have more than one occasion singled out ISN for supporting jihadist terrorists in Nepal. On the other hand, the IHH has already been listed as an arms smuggler by the UN Security Council and has also been investigated for running a support line to armed jihadist groups in Syria in January 2014.
The IHH, which has direct links to the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), enjoys the support of President Erdogan himself. The IHH receives special funding privileges from the Turkish government, which has backed the al-Qaeda linked organisation when it faced numerous anti-terrorism investigations in the past. The Nordic Monitor suggests that Turkey’s Erdogan regime is helping the IHH in global operations using its diplomatic clout.
Al-Qaeda linked IHH active in three provinces of Nepal, close to India border too
The Turkey-based foundation is mainly active in three provinces of Nepal. Province No. 1, Province No. 2 and Lumbini Province. In addition to the capital Kathmandu, the al-Qaeda linked organisation has built mosques, madrasas, Islamic centres and orphanages in other cities. In the near future, the IHH intends to expand into the Sunsari region, an area close to the Indian border.
The link between Islami Sangh Nepal and radical Islamists is not just limited to the IHH. The ISN was listed as a member of an organisation called the Islamic World NGO Union (ISDB), which is merely a front for the Turkish paramilitary group SADAT. The obscure organisation is headed by Adnan Tanriverdi, a former senior military advisor to President Erdogan. Tanriverdi, one of the key advisors of Erdogan, is funding jihadist groups both inside and outside Turkish territory, along with providing military training and advice on military and security logistics.
Ali Fuat Yılmazer, the former head of the Turkish police intelligence section who specialises in radical religious groups, had testified in court in 2016 saying, “IHH campaigns are designed to provide assistance to jihadists involved in terrorism around the world and provide medical assistance, funding, logistics and human resources for jihadists”.
Turkey funding anti-India activities, in touch with radical Islamic organisations
It is also important to note that Turkey has been actively funding and supporting extremist Islamic organisations in Kerala and Kashmir. Turkey, led by Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has now emerged as the epicentre of anti-India activities. The expansionist Turkish government, seeking to establish its dominance in the Islamic world through its conservatism and ‘Ottoman traditions’, is now exerting its influence on South Asian Muslims.
In this endeavour, Turkey has joined hands with Pakistan to expand its influence in the region. The Turkish organisations have been in constant touch with Islamist organisations in the region.
The IHH, also known as İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, has an alliance with radical Islamist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI). The two radical Islamic organisations have met in the run-up to the Lok Sabha Elections in 2019. The two key PFI leaders EM Abdul Rahiman and Prof. P Koya had met senior IHH functionaries.
Erdogan sponsoring religious seminars, protests in India
Erdogan is also funding religious seminars in India to radicalise Muslims and taking them on a full-expense covered trip to Turkey for further indoctrination.
Pakistani and Turkish officials had also funded hate preacher Zakir Naik, who has been accused of inciting and radicalising Indian Muslims with Qatar’s help. Besides criticising India over the humanitarian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the subsequent riots, the Turkish government had reportedly pumped in funds to prolong the protests.
Reportedly, the Turkish government has also been funding separatist leader in Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for several years. As per the report, the Turkish government has also disbursed funds to a radical Islamist organisation in Kerala from time to time.