Turkey has been gradually expanding network of jihadism within the South Asian nations. In the recent years, one of the Al Qaeda-linked charity groups in Turkey has succeeded in spreading its activities by joining Islami Sangh Nepal (ISN). Key target of ISN is to help the Al-Qaeda-linked charity in expanding logistical hub for jihadists networks in South Asia.
According to Nordic Monitor, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or IHH) is running several projects inside Nepal, especially within areas bordering India, with the nefarious agenda of extending logistical support to jihadist outfits inside India – particularly within West Bengal province. Turkey has been heavily funding IHH in expanding radical Islamic ideologies and jihadism within various countries in the world.
It may be mentioned here that the provincial government in India’s West Bengal has been favorable or “liberal” towards jihadist groups, as Trinamool Congress that governs the region considers radical Islamic and jihadist outfits as their strategic allies against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Despite the fact of Nepal’s Islami Sangh Nepal (ISN) been red-flagged by the Indian intelligence services for its affiliations with radical Islamic militancy groups and jihadists [including lone wolves], ISN’s Turkish counterpart, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) was described as “arms smuggler” in the United Nations Security Council documents and was investigated for running a line of support to armed jihadist groups in Syria.
According to Abdullah Bozkurt, editor of Nordic Monitor, IHH is known as a tool of Turkish intelligence agency MİT and has been supported by the government of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which granted the organization special privileges for raising funds. Thanks to the political cover from the government, the IHH managed to escape legal punishment when it faced multiple counterterrorism investigations in Turkey in the past.
He said, the activities of the IHH focus on several provinces of Nepal, especially in Province No. 1, Province No. 2 and Lumbini province. It has established mosques, madrasas, orphanages and Islamic centers in several cities including the capital city Kathmandu. It seems the IHH has taken a special interest in places like Sunsari that are close to the Indian border.
The ISN’s connection to Turkey’s radical Islamists is not only limited to the IHH. It was also listed as a member of an organization called the Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (İslam Dünyası Sivil Toplum Kuruluşları Birliği, or İDSB), a front outfit for Turkish paramilitary group SADAT.
SADAT is run by Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former chief military advisor to President Erdoğan who helped organize jihadist groups in Turkey and abroad, provided military training and offered counseling on military and security logistics. The ISN is listed as member No. 287 in the İDSB and was officially registered as such on January 23, 2015. A review of events and conferences shows that ISN officials frequently attended meetings organized by the İDSB.
Turkish government’s development agency TIKA is also one of the sponsors of ISN activities in Nepal.
Ali Fuat Yılmazer, former head of the Turkish police intelligence section that specializes in radical religious groups, testified in court on August 16, 2016 that “the IHH campaigns are designed to provide aid for jihadists engaged in terrorism around the world and supply medical aid, funding, logistics and human resources for jihadists.”
According to investigative reports prepared by the Turkish Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), an al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkish police officer who gunned down the Russian ambassador in December 2016 in the Turkish capital of Ankara had transferred money to the IHH.
Erdoğan’s dangerous agenda of Ottoman Caliphate
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has the ambition of reviving Ottoman Caliphate and expand its territory within the region. He also has been looking for allies in the Asian countries, as well as Europe.
The connection between Nepalese Islami Sangh Nepal (ISN) and Turkish Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief is a matter of grave concern for the counterintelligence agencies in South Asia – especially India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as such nexus can play role in strengthening the radical Islamic militancy groups in the region.