As many as 1,000 Turks have joined the ranks of the ISIL terror group, which is operating inside Syria and Iraq, a report says.
Quoting Turkish government officials and media reports, The New York Times reported on Monday that Turkey is one of the biggest sources of foreign fighters for the Takfiri group, which has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.
The newspaper cited the example of one former fighter who had been taken to Syria, along with 10 of his friends, and joined the ISIL after 15 days of training in the city of Raqqa.
He said that he shot two men and participated in a public execution; but it was only after he buried a man alive that he was told he had become a real ISIL militant.
“When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance,” said Can, who asked to be referred to only by his middle name.
The 27-year-old added that many Turks have been drawn to the ISIL for financial reasons, as it appeals to disadvantaged youth in the less affluent parts of Turkey.
“When you fight, they offer $150 a day. Then everything else is free,” Can said. “Even the shopkeepers give you free products out of fear.”
The report comes as Francis Ricciardone, who was the US ambassador to Ankara until late June, has recently accused Turkey of directly supporting al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities in Syria, adding that the Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist groups operating inside Syria and at the same time push them to become more moderate.
From the start of the crisis in Syria over three years ago, Turkey allowed its border to be used as a conduit for weapons and militants heading to the Arab country.