NATO Members Defeat — Don’t Launder — Terrorism
On Jan. 19, 2014, Turkish police stopped several trucks near the Syrian border. Upon inspection, they found mortars, artillery shells, and tens of thousands of bullets, all apparently destined for the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. The Turkish government might have used the opportunity to allay suspicions it was playing a double game, but instead of arresting the truck drivers, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan imprisoned the policemen: The trucks belonged to Turkish intelligence.
NATO member or not, such actions have become the rule rather than the exception. Not long after, when journalists photographed delivery of Turkish arms to the Islamic State, Mr. Erdogan retaliated not against those aiding the ostensible enemy, but rather against their editors.
Turkey has a terrorism problem, but it has little to do with the followers of exiled theologian Fethullah Gülen, whose extradition Mr. Erdogan seeks. The sin of Gülen was independence, not terror. Alas, while Turkey’s lobbyists and diplomats cite Turkey’s decades-long partnership with the West, that Turkey is gone.
Consider the following:
In 2006, as the United States and the European Union sought to isolate Hamas until it agreed to abandon terrorism and recognize Israel, Mr. Erdogan not only reached out to the group, but also invited Khalid Mishaal — its most militant leader — to be his personal guest. The problem was not just Mr. Erdogan, though. When the Turkish leader subsequently invited Hamas political leader Ismail Haniya to Ankara, the terrorist group leader received a standing ovation in parliament. In subsequent years, the Turkish government’s outreach to Hamas — no matter what terrorism it conducts — has grown only warmer.
Hamas is not the only problem. In 2007, a train derailed in Turkey carrying hundreds of rockets apparently destined for Hezbollah; the train’s manifest said it was carrying building material. Turkish authorities swept the incident under the rug, but it foreshadowed Mr. Erdogan’s willingness to support anti-Western terror for ideology or profit, all the while assuring Western diplomats that he still sought a European future.
Nor are Turkish fingerprints only limited to terrorism in the Middle East. As French forces entered Mali to help that country defeat an al Qaeda affiliate’s takeover of more than 150,000 square miles