Columbia University Researchers Confirm Turkey’s Links to ISIS

A team of Columbia University researchers from the United States, Europe, and Turkey have confirmed that the Turkish government has provided to ISIS military cooperation, weapons, logistical support, financial assistance, and medical services. This detailed investigation was headed by David L. Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He had previously served as senior advisor and foreign affairs expert for the U.S. Department of State.

Here are brief excerpts from the extensive research documenting the direct links between Turkey and ISIS:

1) Turkey Supplied Military Equipment to ISIS

  • An ISIS commander told the Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2014: “Most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies.”
  • Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), disclosed on Oct. 14, 2014, documents from the Adana Office of the Prosecutor revealing that Turkey supplied weapons to terrorist groups. He also produced transcripts of interviews with truck drivers who delivered the weapons to the terrorists.
  • According to CHP Vice-President Bulent Tezcan, Turkish agents drove three trucks loaded with rockets, arms, and ammunition to ISIS in Syria on Jan. 19, 2014.
  • Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Fuat Avni as stating that Germany and the United States had audio tapes confirming that Turkey provided financial and military aid to terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda on Oct. 12, 2014.
  • Documents made public on Sept. 27, 2014, revealed that Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan financed the transportation of arms to ISIS through Turkey.


2) Turkey Provided Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters

  • According to a June 13, 2014 article in Radikal newspaper, Turkish Interior Minister Muammar Guler issued the following directive: “Hatay is a strategic location for the mujahidin crossing from within our borders to Syria. Logistical support for Islamist groups will be increased, and their training, hospital care, and safe passage will mostly take place in Hatay.”
  • The Daily Mail reported on Aug. 25, 2014 that many foreign militants joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq after traveling through Turkey.
  • Britain’s Sky News obtained documents showing that the Turkish government stamped passports of foreign militants seeking to cross the Turkish border into Syria to join ISIS.
  • A senior Egyptian official indicated on Oct. 9, 2014 that Turkish intelligence is passing to ISIS satellite imagery and other data.


3) Turkey Trained ISIS Fighters

  • CNN Turk reported on July 29, 2014 that in the heart of Istanbul, places like Duzce and Adapazari have become gathering spots for terrorists.
  • Turks who joined an ISIS affiliate were shown on July 28, 2014, at a public gathering in Istanbul.
  • A video showed an ISIS affiliate holding a prayer-gathering in Omerli, a district of Istanbul.
  • According to Jordanian Intelligence, Turkey trained ISIS militants for special operations.


4) Turkey Extended Medical Care to ISIS Fighters

  • An ISIS commander told the Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2014, “We used to have some fighters—even high-level members of the Islamic State—getting treated in Turkish hospitals.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2014, Taraf newspaper reported that Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, a founder of President Erdogan’s ruling party (AKP), divulged that Turkey supported terrorist groups and still supports them and treats them in its hospitals.


5) Turkey Supported ISIS Financially Through Purchase of Oil

  • On Sept. 13, 2014, the New York Times reported on the Obama Administration’s efforts to pressure Turkey to crack down on the extensive network of oil sold by ISIS.
  • Fehim Tastekin wrote in Radikal on Sept. 13, 2014 about illegal pipelines transporting oil from Syria to Turkey.


6) Turkey Assisted ISIS Recruitment

  • Kilicdaroglu announced on Oct. 14, 2014 that ISIS offices in Istanbul and Gaziantep are recruiting fighters. On Oct. 10, 2014, the mufti of Konya stated that 100 men from his city had joined ISIS four days ago.
  • OdaTV reported that Takva Haber served as a propaganda outlet for ISIS to recruit Turkish-speaking men in Turkey and Germany.
  • Minister of Sports Suat Kilic, an AKP member, visited Salafi jihadists who are ISIS supporters in Germany. These jihadists recruit supporters by distributing free copies of the Quran and raising funds to sponsor suicide attacks in Syria and Iraq.
  • OdaTV released a video showing ISIS militants riding a bus in Istanbul.


7) Turkish Forces are Fighting Alongside ISIS

  • American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh asserted in the London Review of Books that “Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a Jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups.”
  • On Sept. 20, 2014, Demir Celik, a member of parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), stated that Turkish Special Forces had joined ISIS in the battlefield.


8) Turkey Helped ISIS in Battle for Kobani

  • Anwar Muslim, mayor of Kobani, revealed on Sept. 19, 2014 that trains full of Turkish forces and ammunition were delivered to ISIS. On Sept. 30, 2014, a CHP delegation visited Kobani, where locals declared that everything from the clothes of ISIS militants to their guns comes from Turkey.
  • A Nuhaber video showed on Sept. 25, 2014 Turkish military convoys, carrying tanks and ammunition, moving freely under ISIS flags in the Jarablus region of Syria and the Karkamis border crossing.
  • Salih Muslim, PYD leader of Kurdish fighters, reported that 120 militants had crossed into Syria from Turkey from Oct. 20-24, 2014.
  • According to an op-ed written by a YPG Kurdish commander in the New York Times on Oct. 29, 2014, Turkey regularly allows ISIS militants and their equipment to pass freely over its border.
  • Diken reported on Oct. 1, 2014: “ISIS fighters crossed the border from Turkey into Syria in full view of Turkish soldiers.”


9) Turkey and ISIS Share a Worldview

  • RT reported on Oct. 3, 2014 on U.S.Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks detailing Turkish support to ISIS.
  • Hurriyet newspaper quoted a Turkish civil servant on Sept. 26, 2014: “I was shocked to hear words of admiration for ISIL from some high-level civil servants.”
  • An AKP council member posted on his Facebook page: “Thankfully ISIS exists… May you never run out of ammunition.”
  • Erdogan’s son Bilal and Turkish officials met with ISIS fighters, according to Sariyer Gozlem.



It is absolutely unacceptable that while ISIS is committing mass murder in Paris and other European cities, our NATO “ally,” Turkey, is continuing to aid and arm these terrorists. It is high time that Turkey is expelled from NATO and its leaders are indicted and brought to justice for their role in these heinous crimes.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Turkish pupils are very honest and friendly. but Turkish Government has two face, one smile the other is jealous and kill you, from your back.

  2. So they compiled newspapers articles and public statements and made a “conclusion”? Citing the Daily Mail and a Facebook post? All of their claims are probably… likely… almost certainly true, but what exactly are they taking credit for? Compiling readily available information and connecting the plainly obvious dots? I guess I’m supposed to be impressed because an Ivy League school is saying this?

    • RVDV, you put your finger on the button. American society values credentials over character. I graduated from Columbia a few years ago. Some of what passes for “teaching” and “advising” there would be ridiculed had they occurred at a less prestigious school.
      But I will says that David Phillips is a wonderful person and an expert mediator. I encourage you to explore what he has written and said about the Armenians and Kurds.

  3. So why doesn’t the US put more pressure on Turkey to stop this behavior? What a ridiculous alliance. Turkish leadership in 2015 is not much different than it was in 1915. If their crimes were punished then perhaps they wouldn’t continue to behave as if they’d be able to get away with murder now. They continue to laugh at the West.

  4. Hey there POTUS–Wake up and smell the coffee (burning)! You probably already have but keep pretending you haven’t.

  5. Unfortunately, the enormously deceitful, hypocritical United States, who continuously refuses to acknowledge Turkey’s endless criminal acts, is the force behind Turkey not being expelled from NATO. And, by firmly defending its ally (the Islamic terrorist state of Turkey) as the U.S. has been doing all this time, truly shows that the so-called “U.S. war on terror” is nothing more than make-believe.

  6. Seems like Sassounian has no realization of time and reality. Let alone the quality of “THE research,” the cited work was conducted by David Phillips from Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and it was published exactly A YEAR AGO:

    Besides, we all know that Turkey supports ISIS, but what kind of credibility would you find when a pundit quotes another pundit? Adding to that, Sassounian used to vilify Phillips over his TARC engagement but now he’s quoting his work.. Compare what he wrote about the work of David Phillips here with what he wrote in 2005:
    and in 2004:

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