Suspected ISIS member roams free in Ankara amid legal limbo

Suspected ISIS member roams free in Ankara amid legal limbo
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Kazakh citizen D.K. was released pending trial due to a lack of evidence, raising concerns over procedural gaps and international cooperation against terrorism.

By Hale Gonultas

D.K., a citizen of Kazakhstan suspected of ISIS membership and once on INTERPOL's radar with a Red Bulletin, lives freely in Ankara amidst a concerning mix of bureaucratic and legal shortcomings. Despite being caught with a fake identity card in Ankara's Polatli district, his release pending trial raises questions about international efforts' effectiveness in combatting terrorism.

In a twist of complex international relations and legal proceedings, D.K.'s freedom can be traced back to 2013, when the civil war in Syria reached its peak. As outlined in the indictment prepared by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, D.K., then 35, left Kazakhstan for Egypt and, subsequently, Turkey, where his connections with ISIS began to deepen.

A life entwined with terrorism

D.K.'s involvement with the notorious terrorist organization was far from subtle. A self-filmed video titled "Mujahideen" features him urging fellow Kazakhstan citizens to "join the jihad". This digital artifact piqued the interest of Kazakhstan intelligence, uncovering his affiliations with "David Jamaat" and "United Kazakh Jamaat" – recruitment arms of ISIS in Kazakhstan.

Despite INTERPOL issuing a Red Bulletin following Kazakhstan's intelligence report, D.K. managed to cross into Turkey easily, thanks to a fake I.D. provided by ISIS. The indictment also reveals that D.K.'s brother, another ISIS member, was caught preparing an attack on the Consulate General of Kazakhstan in Istanbul in 2015 but was subsequently deported.

Caught but not confined

In April 2021, D.K.'s semblance of freedom faced a hurdle. Turkish security forces, acting on intelligence, detained him near the Polatli district of Ankara. He was imprisoned at Sincan Prison, but only temporarily. The subsequent trial, marred by Kazakhstan's failure to provide the required evidence of D.K.'s ISIS membership, culminated in his release.

Currently, D.K. resides in Ankara, under a travel ban and judicial control but without the restraining walls of a prison, pending his next hearing scheduled for April 2024.

An international dilemma

The case exemplifies the challenges of international cooperation in combating terrorism. With D.K. walking free, concerns are mounting over potential threats and the imperative for improved international legal and intelligence-sharing protocols. The intersection of legal, bureaucratic, and security concerns has thus far resulted in a suspected terrorist evading confinement, prompting a reevaluation of the mechanisms that should ideally ensure that individuals like D.K. are adequately dealt with.

As the world grapples with the persistent threat of terrorism, D.K.'s case underscores the urgent need for streamlined international processes to ensure that suspected terrorists are brought to justice unimpeded by procedural and bureaucratic obstacles. The incident serves as a potent reminder of the gaps in Turkey's fight against terrorism.