Turkey has faced great criticism after the death of the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after the US military operation, in the village of Barisha in Idlib governorate, northwestern Syria, in areas under the influence of Ankara, which made Turkey subjected to great doubts and questions by experts and analysts.
Great predicament The Turkish “Zaman” newspaper quoted the Turkish opposition writer and diplomatic relations expert Fahim Tashtakin as saying that the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), has put Turkey in a "very big predicament." The Turkish writer said: "The cooperation between Ankara and Washington was limited to the use of U.S. forces the Turkish airspace only, pointing out that the U.S. forces preferred to obtain intelligence information from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in addition to the Iraqi intelligence service, because they do not want to leave room for the escape of Baghdadi, they were afraid to share information with Turkey, to not to be leaked to ISIS."
Doubts US intelligence experts wonder if Turkey knows where al-Baghdadi and his spokesman, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, were hiding before being killed in two separate U.S. air raids in Syria's border, areas under Turkish influence. According to a Bloomberg report, the questions on the minds of these experts are how the two men managed to secure a safe haven for themselves in Ankara and the Syrian opposition-held areas. Idlib has several Turkish checkpoints, and Aleppo's Jarablus, where al-Muhajir was killed, has Turkish patrols and bases.
Moreover, "The National" newspaper reported that al-Baghdadi's brother traveled several times to the Turkish city of Istanbul via northern Syria, West of Euphrates, before being killed in October, in a U.S. military operation. The newspaper quoted two Iraqi intelligence sources as saying that al-Baghdadi's brother was one of the trusted envoys of ISIS leadership, as he was delivering and keeping information about ISIS operations in Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Al-Baghdadi's brother has made it between northern Syria and Istanbul several times, meaning that he has been traveling for nearly 2,300 km without being arrested on the territory of a member state of the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Furthermore, "The National" quoted a former senior military official in the Turkish army that it is impossible that Turkey had no idea about al-Baghdadi in the area, which is only a few kilometers away from the borders with Syria.
Demonstration With the start of the Syrian war, Turkey let many foreign recruits from Europe and Africa into Syria, and supported the militants, hoping to change the current Syrian government. U.S. intelligence also recently discovered that at least one ISIS official is in Turkey, the organization's "finance minister", who moved there from Iraq in August 2017. Thomas Jocelyn, a senior official at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), said that spotting jihadists roaming "freely", raises questions about Turkey's true policy toward the Islamic State (ISIS). "Turkish police and intelligence do not see ISIS as a threat, but President Erdogan is trying to appear as someone who is fighting ISIS," said Ahmet Yayla, a former Turkish counterterrorism police official and a researcher at George Washington University's extremism program.