The Financial Crimes Investigation Board’s (MASAK) latest report shows that money used by the Islamic State terrorist organization (ISIS) was transferred through the Turkish cities like Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, according to reporting by Deutsche Welle Turkish.
The report found that dual Lebanese and Turkish citizen Fayez Alflıtı sold explosive wicks to be used in bombs from Lebanon to the seat of the caliphate, Raqqa, in 2015. ISIS used a money transfer company based in Gaziantep to transfer over $400,000 to Alflıtı.
This information was made public as part of a report on the 365 people whose assets Turkey froze in April of last year for alleged links to terrorism. 86 of those people were allegedly linked to ISIS, including Alflıtı.
According to the report, Alflıtı would routinely travel to Adana, in Turkey, and reportedly illegally crossed into Syria from the Tel Abyad border. MASAK found that he would travel to Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zor in Syria to set up business contacts with the Islamic State. He would then transit back through Turkey to Lebanon.
Alflıtı was not the only ISIS affiliate to transfer money to the Islamic State through Turkey. Chahreddie Omranı, who is known to fund ISIS in conflict zones, allegedly sent 1,924 euros to Abuliezi Abuduhamiti of ISIS through Turkey in October 2016.
Another man named Yusuf El Ali Elhasan who was residing in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, would also facilitate money transfers. Money would come to Elhasan, who would transfer the money to collaborators in Ankara and Şanlıurfa. Syrian Ali Elali, who was wanted for alleged membership in ISIS, would then take the money from Şanlıurfa and transfer it to a company called Al Hafiz, which operates in Syria.
The money transfer continued until recently. According to MASAK, two Syrian nationals named Ammar Salo and Muhammed Salo were heavily involved in the transfer of money to ISIS conflict zones from the city of Kahramanmaraş. They continued operating in the city, facilitating the transfer of large sums of money across the border, until 2019 when the organization began to lose its hold in Syria. The report notes that the remaining money in Syria may have been transferred back across the border into Turkey for a commission.
The monetary support channeled through Turkey did not just go to ISIS conflict zones. MASAK also found that gold trader and jeweler Ahmed Elahmed Al Harun, who owns many stores in Istanbul, set up a solidarity fund for the families of those killed or wounded in battle. Al Harun allegedly used his gold trade to cover up his membership in the organization and used his businesses to collect and move these funds.
Al Harun also allegedly used one of his offices in Aksaray as a meeting point for members of ISIS in Istanbul and went to Syria and Iraq regularly. He was a confirmed member of the organization and was high-up in ISIS’ financial system. Al Harun was allowed to remain in Turkey until he was arrested on December 16, 2019.