Antep is the second stronghold for ISIS after Raqqa

HDP’s Mahmut Toğrul said that in return for the AKP regime’s alliance with ISIS gangs over anti-Kurdish sentiment, ISIS uses Antep as the second stronghold after Raqqa.

In line with the anti-Kurdish policies they implemented, the AKP regime hasn’t held back from working together with ISIS gangs, who terrorize the world since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. They have supported ISIS to this day. So much so that the ISIS members never refrained from citing Antep as the second stronghold after Raqqa. It is a known fact that ISIS organized the massacres over Antep, after the bloodshed in Adana-Mersin, Amed, Suruç, Anara and Istanbul with the network they created in Turkey based in Antep. HDP Antep MP Mahmut Toğrul spoke to ANF about AKP’s relationship with the gangs, the organization of the gangs in Antep and the massacres they committed in the country and their structure.


Toğrul said people in Antep were deeply worried and concerned, and expressed that the social life in Antep has almost disappeared. Toğrul said that economic life has come to a halt along with the social life, and people walked down the street fearing something would happen any moment, and that despite all this, there were no precautions towards ISIS gangs in Antep. Toğrul said looking at the developments in the Middle East, the AKP regime was still hoping to get something out of ISIS and saw them as “a group to take advantage of” in the future.

HDP MP stated that what needed to be done before the “operation” supposedly against ISIS in Jarablus was to expose the ISIS structure in Antep, and continued: “There are many signs that public authorities in Antep and ISIS gangs are in cahoots. This fact has been reflected in reports by intelligence agencies. Especially looking at the court documents for the Ankara Train Station Massacre, there are serious indications of the massacre being organized in Antep and of the ISIS gangs being close with the intelligence agency and the police. Nobody, unfortunately, had a chance to deeply inspect the details in the statements. Our efforts are not very visible because of the intense pressure on media.”


HDP Antep MP mentioned that ISIS members had said “For us, Antep is the same as Raqqa” before and continued: “And we actually see that a significant portion of the brains of ISIS are orgnized in Antep in the statements in the Ankara Train Station Massacre case. We had said this before. Getting rid of names like Yusuf Durmaz and İbrahim Halil Durgun regarding the 3 ISIS members who planned the attack was maybe to prevent them sharing important information with the public. The train station massacre was a year ago. Since that day, these concerns have intensified as it came to light that these 3 people were previously arrested and released, and then all three were executed. Antep is the gateway to the rest of the world for ISIS. Others probably replaced these 3 people in Antep, because it’s impossible for ISIS to leave Antep unattended.”


Toğrul said that before all this, Antep was famous for its gastronomy, its pistachios, baklava, delicious food and the skill of Antep craftspeople, but now the first thing that comes to mind is ISIS gangs. “Everywhere we go, the first thing people ask is the link between Antep and ISIS,” said Toğrul, and continued: “This is seen in the statistics as well. The number of tourists, for example the people who visited the Mosaic Museum, has dropped to almost a fifth of what it was. These numbers show that tourism in Antep is almost non-existent now. Antep has been culturally drained. In the current situation in Antep, it’s impossible to hold a cultural event. The people don’t have the idea to “go to Antep for a little sightseeing” any more. Social, cultural and economic life has been drained in Antep. Everybody tries to get through the day. The worst thing is, they have no hope for the future. Turkey is being dragged into a more and more chaotic process both in the country and outside.”


HDP's Toğrul said that Antep first drew attention for ISIS members crossing the border into Syria, but was later used as the headquarters for the massacres to be committed both in Turkey and outside the borders and continued: “All these massacres have somehow crossed paths in Antep. They all passed through. They lived in Antep. These have been recorded in a case heard in the Antep 2nd Criminal Court. There is nothing that the security forces don’t know about. When we look at that case, the indictment includes where the incoming gang members will stay, who will meet them, which taxi they will take and how they will cross the border. You could write a thesis on the Ankara Train Station Massacre especially. It is clear when you inspect these files that Antep is the center of ISIS Turkey organization.”


Toğrul continued his comments: “So, why don’t they take precautions if this is such a known fact? When you ask what do they hope for, the only answer is animosity towards Kurds. The only worry for the AKP government is Kurds having legal status. They want to prevent Kurds having legal status with the peoples they live together with. To this end, they have unfortunately collaborated with all kinds of gangs and organizations. Maybe it’s not high up on the agenda now, but especially Al Nusra has also built a significant organization in border cities like Hatay and Antep.

The fact that the perpetrators of the attack on a Kurdish wedding in Antep still haven’t been caught and the President’s comments that the attack was carried out by a 14 year old child with a Messi jersey did not find support among locals at all. For instance, the prosecutors say they don’t have such an information. More than 3 months passed since the attack but there are still no developments regarding the perpetrator of the wedding explosion. But they were able to determine the attackers immediately after the other attacks. For whatever reason, there is something they want to keep in the dark in this perpetrator of the wedding massacre.


Toğrul said that ISIS was present and organized everywhere in Antep, from development zones, poor peripheral districts to elite neighborhoods and continued: “Unfortunately, they have organzied everywhere in Antep. They may have a stronger organization in some neighborhoods, but they are present in all neighborhoods in Antep. Now we see that Turkey thinks ISIS is an increasingly criminalized organization and being in cahoots with them might cause problems, and is keeping Al Nusra, the gang organization that changed its name to Fatah Al Sham recently, on the backburner. Again, we see that this Al Nusra group has a serious parallel organization in Antep.

Turkey needs to see this: In the country and outside, they need to stop this animosity towards Kurds. Actually, the bottleneck Turkey is stuck in today, the economic crisis and the civil war Turkey is pulled towards is caused by Turkey’s age-old animosity towards Kurds. But if they were able to hold the situation at the peace process level and developed good neighborly relationships with Rojava, today Turkey would be in a very different position. We would be able to talk of different topics about Turkey, and Turkey wouldn’t be in this economic recession and this war. Turkey is seriously stuck right now. The only way out is leaving the anti-Kurdish sentiment.”