Daesh leader’s capture in Turkey points to new Iraq cooperation

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his Iraqi counterpart Haider Al-Abadi during a joint news conference in Baghdad on Jan. 7. (Reuters/file)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Daesh leader’s capture in Turkey points to new Iraq cooperation

ANKARA: The capture and extradition of a top Daesh leader from Iraq to Turkey has revealed a new level of intelligence cooperation between Ankara, Baghdad and Washington.
Ismail Alwan Salman Al-Ithawi was the head of what the extremist group described as its Ministry of Religious Edicts. He also oversaw a committee that appointed leaders of cadres within Daesh.
Al-Ithawi fled to Turkey and settled in the northern province of Sakarya after the territorial losses suffered by Daesh in Syria and Iraq last year, an Iraqi interior ministry official told AFP.
He was using his brother’s name to hide his identity, but the intelligence operation managed to capture him following the infiltration into the “highest levels” of Daesh.
He was detained and returned through cooperation between Turkish, Iraqi and US intelligence agencies, the official said.
The US military said the cooperation between the two, who are both partners in the American led anti-Daesh coalition, was “significant.”
“Iraqi intelligence, in coordination with Turkish security forces, arrest ISIS high-value individual Ismail alwan Al-Ithawi. “Global coalition and partners hunting down ISIS leaders every day,” coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon tweeted.
The counter-terrorism cooperation between Turkey and Baghdad is the outcome of the warming in relations with regular meetings between the foreign ministers of the two countries and the recent pledge by Turkey of $5 billion in loans to rebuild the country after the devastation of Daesh.
During his address at the Munich Security Conference, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Saturday that Turkey’s counter-terror measures against foreign fighters and Daesh carry significant importance for Europe’s security.
“We also banned 56,300 potential foreign fighters affiliated with Daesh from traveling to Turkey. Around 10,000 Daesh members are currently under arrest in Turkey,” he said.
Yildirim met his Iraqi counterpart Haidar Al-Abadi at the conference to discuss cooperation against terrorism.
Ankara has deported more than 5,000 Daesh suspects and 3,290 foreign fighters from 95 countries in recent years.
But the country has also been criticized for not doing enough to stop the flow of extremists in and out of Syria.
Experts think the recent anti-Daesh operation give a symbolic message to the West that Turkey’s counter-terror efforts are not just focussed on Kurdish militants. Turkey last month launched Operation Olive Branch into Syria’s Afrin region against YPG militias, which its says are linked to the Kurdish group waging an insurgency inside Turkey.
“The West criticized Turkey for being distracted from the fight against Daesh and overemphasizing, the YPG threat,” Emel Parlar Dal, associate professor of international relations at Marmara University in Istanbul, said. “And now Ankara disproves this claim.”
Sertac Canalp Korkmaz, a researcher in security studies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, said the capture of high-level Daesh members is also significant as an attempt to prevent the group from regaining ground.
“The number of Daesh members who are jailed in Turkey is stunning and confirms again that the terror group’s terror-generating capacity does not only threaten domestic security but also Europe’s own stability,” he told Arab News.
On Feb. 13, six foreign nationals, including two Iraqis and a Syrian, were detained in central Turkey for suspected links to Daesh. Separately on the same day, during simultaneous raids in the central province of Eskisehir, three more Iraqi nationals were also caught on suspicion of their Daesh links.


Tortured, persecuted, deported: a tribe’s ordeal at the hands of Qatar

Updated 20 September 2018
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Tortured, persecuted, deported: a tribe’s ordeal at the hands of Qatar

  • The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani
  • Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe

GENEVA: Members of a prominent tribe told an audience in Geneva on Thursday how they were stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation in a 22-year campaign of systematic persecution by authorities in Qatar.
“My story is about wanting my rights, and I hope my story reaches your hearts,” said Hamed Al-Ghufrani, whose family was forced to flee Qatar for the UAE in 1996.
Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe, and had his nationality revoked in 2005. 
His 14-year-old son spoke of being a “stateless person” and called on the UN to end the persecution so he could return to Qatar.
The press conference at the Swiss Press Club, organized by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, came two days after the Al-Ghufran delegation staged a protest in front of the UN building in Geneva during the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Jaber Hamad Al-Araq, the tribe member fired twice by Qatar Petroleum, said: “The consequences of revoking our citizenship came in waves. They took away health care, education and public services. They took away all the tools that would allow us to live in Qatar with dignity, as human beings.”
Many of the tribe have suffered from depression and other medical conditions as a result of their ill-treatment. “I was rejected many times for jobs because of the injustice we face,” said Jaber Mohamed Al-Ghufrani. “They would reject me, the interior ministry office would reject me, just for being from the tribe. We are marginalized, without value, and left on the sidelines in our own country.
“I am responsible for my family, consisting of my wife and children, and we have faced many injustices that led us to have psychological trauma. We have suffered enough.”
Abdul Hadi Jaber Al-Ghufrani, another member of the tribe, told the press conference: “All members of the Al-Ghufran tribe without exception suffered from the decision to revoke their nationality.
“Those who remained in Qatar are unable to work, travel, or act like normal human beings, they cannot trade, they cannot even give their identity.
“Those who were expelled and forcibly displaced live in exile. They cannot apply or work in any job where they can get money for they basic needs, and most of them have no official identity papers. They can no longer see their families and loved ones.
“We are here to demand our rights and we will not stop until we get our rights. From today for the next 20 years, we will not stop.”
The youngest member of the delegation, Mohammed Ali Amer Al-Ghufrani Al-Marri, 14, said: “My nationality was revoked when I was less than one year old.
“I did not have the right to grow up in my own country, I was not given the right to stay there. I wish to return to my country and enjoy my rights as a citizen.”