Turkey’s Contributions to International Community’s Efforts to Fight Terrorism

Turkey has been effectively countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations for decades, ranging from FETÖ to the ethnic separatist PKK terrorism, and the leftist DHKP-C to religiously motivated terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and DAESH, as well as the “17 November” and “ASALA” terrorist organizations.

The call for international cooperation is not just a rhetoric or an academic interest for Turkey: The terrorist groups targeting our country have been operating across national borders, running training camps, acquiring financial resources, operating media outlets to disseminate their propaganda and glorify their vicious acts abroad. Perpetrators of terrorist crimes, their mentors and financiers have been able to escape justice and travel freely. Our own struggle against this menace has thought us the crucial lesson that we cannot succeed in our counter-terrorism efforts in the absence of international cooperation.

Accordingly, Turkey has been on the forefront of efforts to increase awareness of the international community on the threat of terrorism. We have worked hard bilaterally and at the various international platforms to create mechanisms for more effective counter-terrorism measures.

Turkey has all along been underlining that:

-Terrorism poses a major threat to international peace and security. All acts of terrorism are unjustified regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomever committed,.

-There should be increased cooperation between states on the basis of the “extradite or prosecute” principle, in order to deny any safe haven to terrorists.

-International community should not discriminate between terrorist organizations and must act with equal determination in preventing, suppressing, pursuing and prosecuting all terrorist groups, their members and activities.

-Any attempt to affiliate terrorism with any religion or ethnic group is utterly wrong and would in fact play into the hands of terrorists.

The growing threat of terrorism in the past years greatly increased the importance of international cooperation. What we are being faced with today is unprecedented. There is a drastic proliferation of terrorist groups all around the world that possess enhanced capacity to inflict serious physical damage coupled with an increasing ability to disseminate their “narratives” that aims to lure disillusioned young people to commit heinous forms of violence. Act of terrorism that indiscriminately affect innocent people, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time have become all the more common across the world. As such, terrorism has become a truly global and rapidly evolving threat. The very phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) is a very disturbing projection of this reality.

To address this growing threat, a rapid, effective, and coordinated global response has become a necessity.

The good news is that, international solidarity and collective capabilities against this transnational threat has been enhanced considerably. The international community owes this particularly to the United Nations. By virtue of its universal representation and capacity to interlink various aspects in addressing terrorism, the United Nations is playing the central role in garnering a global response to this scourge.

It is very important that we now have a global legal framework that criminalizes terrorist acts and obliges member states to cooperate in suppressing various aspects of terrorism: To this date, eighteen universal instruments against terrorism have been put in force relating to specific terrorist activities.

Moreover, the Security Council has also been active in countering terrorism through resolutions, in particular 1267(and ensuing resolutions), 2178, 2395 and 1373, and by establishing several subsidiary bodies.

At the same time a number of programmes, offices and agencies of the United Nations system have been engaged in specific activities against terrorism, further assisting Member States in building effective counter-terrorism capacities.

One should also highlight the UN Counter Terrorism Strategy adopted in 2006. Based on four main pillars, the Strategy marks the first time that all Member States of the United Nations have agreed to a common strategic and operational framework, to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Turkey has been playing an active role in the development of a universal legal framework under the UN system. Accordingly, Turkey has become party to all UN counter-terrorism instruments. We strongly support the Global Strategy and implement UN Security Council Resolutions in a determined manner.

Turkey has also initiated, together with the US, the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF), and has co-chaired this body between September 2011- April 2016. Turkey also co-chaired the Horn of Africa Working Group within the GCTF together with the EU. Turkey has co-led the GCTF initiatives to Address the Life Cycle of Radicalization to Violence” and the Antalya Memorandum on the Protection of Soft Targets in a Counterterrorism.

Turkey is an active member of the Anti Da’esh Coalition and is co-leading the FTF working group within this Coalition. Turkey has also successfully concluded Operation Euphrates Shield that significantly reduced Da’esh influence in Iraq and Syria.

With regards to the issue of countering the flow FTF’s to conflict zones, Turkey has been taking preventive measures before the implementation of UNSC Resolution 2178 (2014). Within this framework, Turkey continues to enhance its security apparatus in order to prevent the flow of FTF’s to the region and imposes restrictions to the entry of individuals suspected of being members or sympathizers of terrorist organizations. Likewise, in accordance with UNSCR 2178, individuals suspected to have links to terrorist outfits which enter Turkish territory by illegal means are transferred to Deportation Centers and are subsequently expelled to the their country of citizenship after notifying concerned officials of that country. Moreover, the Risk Analysis Groups located in various airports and bus terminals in Turkey scrutinize suspected individuals and prevent their entry when necessary. Turkish security forces regularly conduct operations against Da’esh, Al-Nusra Front, and Al Qaida links located in Turkey.

Turkey is also a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering/countering terrorist financing body. Turkey is constantly reviewing legislation as well as implementation on countering terrorist financing, in order to be fully compliant with the FATF recommendations. Turkey has also initiated, together with the US, the preparation of the FATF report on ISIL/Da’esh financing in 2015. . Turkey’s Financial Intelligence Unit (MASAK) operates in cooperation and coordination with the law enforcement authorities and prosecutors at the national level. MASAK also cooperates with other FIU’s through EGMONT Group and actively contributes to the efforts of the FATF. Turkey has created the legal framework in line with FATF recommendations in order to effectively implement UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373, which calls for criminalizing terrorist financing and freezing terrorist assets.

Over the years, Turkey made bilateral agreements with more than over 70 countries around the world in the field of counterterrorism. These agreements provide the legal basis for bilateral cooperation against illegal entities including terrorist organizations and facilitate the exchange of information among the relevant agencies.

Moreover, Turkey is also an active contributor to counter terrorism capacity-building programmes of several states around the world. The Counterterrorism Department, established in 1986 within the General Directorate of Turkish National Police, contributes significantly to enhancing international cooperation in the field of counterterrorism by organizing trainings with various countries. International training courses covers topics such as basic counterterrorism training, radicalization leading to terrorism and its preventive measures, public awareness and prevention activities regarding violent extremism, combating terrorist organizations that abuse religion, crisis management in terrorist attacks and strategies for its prevention and investigation processes that cover countering the financing of terrorism. Turkish National Police is also organizing other training programmes in various aspects of the law enforcement work. Between 1997-2015 Turkish National Police provided training to around 26.000 law enforcement officials from 62 countries.

The smuggling of narcotics, which is a significant source of revenue for terrorist groups, is another issue that Turkey aims to eliminate. Turkey, due to its location, is a transit country for such crimes. Yet, the prevention of such transnational crimes requires concerted action from the international community. In addition to its efforts at the national level, Turkey strongly supports regional and global efforts in enhancing cooperation with regards to countering smuggling. In this framework, Turkey works closely with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and is one of the top donors to the programme. In the context of Turkey’s ongoing efforts to transfer its expertise and know-how in the field, Turkey has formed the “Turkish International Academy Againts Drugs and Organized Crime” (TADOC) in partnership with the UNODC.

In addition to contributing to the capacity building measures within the UN and regional bodies, Turkey also assists in bilateral capacity building as part of its efforts in strengthening international cooperation in countering terrorism. Within this framework, the courses organized by Turkish Directorate General for Security in the years 1997-2017, which included police organizations in Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and other neighboring countries, have trained 32597 law enforcement officials from 77 different countries. On the other hand, Turkey has so far signed 170 Treaties with 93 countries and 957 legal documents with 114 countries. in the field of security cooperation. Many more security cooperation agreements are being negotiated.