Bipartisan US Congressional letter raises concerns over Turkey's Hamas ties
Members of the United States Congress, led by Chris Pappas and Gus Bilirakis, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance, have delivered a comprehensive letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter addresses concerns over Turkey's alleged support for Hamas, particularly in light of the Hamas attack on Israel that occurred on October 7, 2023.
The congressional letter underscores a growing unease within the U.S. government regarding Turkey's involvement with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by the U.S. It calls upon the State Department to investigate whether any Turkish officials were complicit in the aforementioned Hamas attack and to report its findings.
According to reports, the letter was crafted to emphasize the gravity of Turkey's role in supporting Hamas. The congressional members argue that Turkey has facilitated and provided both political and logistical support for Hamas, raising serious concerns.
The letter recalls President Tayyip Erdogan's statements and his associations with Hamas over the years. It cites Erdoğan's continuous support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization from which Hamas emerged, and his divisive rhetoric, including his controversial denial of Hamas as a terrorist organization. The letter further highlights Erdoğan's previous anti-Semitic comments and his participation in conferences where Hamas' anti-Semitic statements were left unchallenged.
One notable aspect of the letter is its focus on the activities of Hamas in Turkey. It emphasizes that Turkey has become a sanctuary for Hamas for over a decade, with experts labeling it as the second-largest Hamas hub after Gaza itself. Turkey has hosted the military wing of Hamas since 2012.
The letter delves into the activities of prominent Hamas figures within Turkey, including Deputy Head of Hamas' Political Bureau, Saleh Al-Arouri. Al-Arouri is known for openly endorsing Hamas' attacks and leading operations from Istanbul.
Zahir Cebbarin, head of Hamas' Financial Bureau, is reported to manage and finance terrorist operations in Israel from his Istanbul office. Cihat Yağmur, a representative of Hamas in Turkey, is believed to oversee terrorist units in Judea and Samaria and allegedly maintains connections with the Turkish government and intelligence services.
The letter also provides specific instances of how Hamas' Istanbul office has been instrumental in directing and funding numerous attacks on Israel. The office has trained militants, facilitated money laundering through Turkish financial institutions, and enabled terrorists to infiltrate Israeli territories.
Despite evidence of Turkey's involvement in these activities, the letter asserts that the U.S. government has not paid sufficient attention to this critical issue. It underscores the urgent need for accountability, stressing that Turkey should be held to the same standards as other allies when it comes to harboring and facilitating such operations.