by Ari Lieberman
High-level Hamas operative spills dirty secrets on Turkish terror connections.
The Hamas terrorist organization was stung by the recent high-profile defection of one of its top operatives, Suheib Yousef. Yousef is the son of Hamas co-founder, Sheikh Hassan Yousef. He is also the brother of Mosab Hassan Yousef, who defected from Hamas in the late 1990s. Mosab provided Israel’s Shin Bet counter-terrorist security service with information on Hamas and ultimately converted to Christianity. He also authored the book, “Son of Hamas,” exposing the group’s corruption, duplicity and brutality.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Suheib, who was stationed in Turkey before his defection, charged that the Hamas leadership is rife with corruption. According to Suheib, “Hamas leaders (in Turkey) live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and are very well paid by Hamas, they get between four and five thousand dollars a month, they have guards, swimming pools, country clubs.” He also alleged that they routinely dine in the finest Turkish restaurants, charging hundreds of dollars per meal while the average Gazan makes about $350 per month.
This aspect of Suheib’s revelation was unsurprising. Anyone remotely familiar with the inner workings of Hamas knows that this group of thoroughly corrupted, extortionist gangsters lives the high life at the expense of their kinsmen, and that its venality is matched only by its barbarity. But Suheib also shed disturbing light on Turkey’s role in facilitating Hamas terror operations and advancing Iranian intelligence interests.
According to Suheib, Hamas maintains a bustling intelligence section in Turkey where they use sophisticated surveillance equipment to monitor Israeli communications. (He alleged that they also spy on their chief Palestinian rivals, the Palestinian Authority.) The information is then sold to Iran and in exchange, the Islamic Republic provides Hamas with financial backing. Turkish banks facilitate the transactions acting as intermediaries between the Iranians and Hamas. These banks are able to circumvent sanctions because the accounts are held by shell organizations acting under the guise of human rights groups.
Suheib also alleged that Hamas recruits operatives in Turkey and orchestrates West Bank terror attacks from Turkey. One such attack, which involved the murder-kidnapping of three Israeli youths (one of whom maintained dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship), was alleged to have been hatched by Salah Al-Aruri, a Hamas militant operating out of Turkey.
It would be unrealistic to assume that Turkish intelligence is ignorant of these activities. Under Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has gone from being a vocal Hamas supporter to a Hamas enabler, providing the group with a valuable base of operations from which in can conduct financial transactions, fundraising activities, intelligence operations and terrorist attacks. Next to the Islamic Republic, Turkey has become Hamas’s most important ally and enabler, easily surpassing Qatar in obtaining that dubious distinction.
Earlier this month, Erdogan’s spokesperson İbrahin Kalın announced that Turkey would host a trilateral summit with Russia and Iran regarding developments in Syria. The proposed summit represents one of several held by the three nations in the past two years to coordinate their activities in Syria. Turkey has moved to establish closer ties with Russia and Iran at the expense of the West, and its departure away from NATO’s sphere of influence into the orbit of those who despise the West has accelerated in recent years.
Despite U.S. protests, Turkey has opted to purchase S-400 anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. That action has led the U.S. to boot Turkey from participation in the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. According to Erdogan, the first components of the S-400 platform are set to be delivered this month. That may provoke additional U.S. sanctions and may lead to a halt in deliveries of a wide variety of armaments to Turkey including the Patriot missile system, CH-47F Chinook heavy lift choppers, UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopters, and F-16 aircraft as well as spare parts for those systems.
Erdogan however, remains undeterred and has ratcheted up the developing crises with NATO by announcing that his nation would now seek to cooperate on the production of Russia's S-500 surface-to-air missile system. Russia for its part has moved to fill the F-35 void by announcing that it was willing to provide Turkey with Su-57 fighter jets, Russia’s proclaimed fifth generation equivalent of the F-35.
It is clear that Turkey’s mercurial leader by both word and deed has lost all interest in maintaining good relations with the West. His knee-deep involvement with the Hamas terrorist group, Russia, Iran and other sordid groups give ample cause for NATO to reassess its relationship with this increasingly unhinged individual and his rogue regime.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter