US recognizes Turkey’s efforts to block foreign fighters in a new terrorism report

RAGIP SOYLU
WASHINGTON
Published 19.06.2015 18:50

The U.S. has recognized Turkey's increasing efforts to tame the flow of foreign fighters through its borders to Syria in a new terrorism report released by the State Department on Friday.

Although Turkey remained the main transit route for foreign terrorist fighters, the Department said in Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 that Turkey had increased cooperation with source countries to develop an extensive banned-from-entry list of known or suspected terrorists and introduced tougher traveler screening procedures, making it more difficult for foreign terrorist fighters to cross its borders.

The report said, "Although the Turkish government does not have an automated Advanced Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) system, it has approached the Department of Homeland Security for technical assistance in developing its own automated system. Risk Analysis Units were established at 11 major international and domestic airports, land border crossings, and border cities in an effort to identify and interdict potential foreign terrorist fighters. Border forces have increased their ability to patrol and interdict persons and contraband from crossing the border."

However the State Department also criticized Turkey for its failure to impose visa requirements for certain countries which is described as "major foreign terrorist fighter sources", such as Libya.

The statistics compiled by the Prime Ministry support the long-standing Turkish stance that Turkey had been using its full capacity to block the flow of foreign fighters going to Syria. According to the figures, more than 1,350 people have been deported and Turkey has issued exclusion orders for some 13,500 others from 98 countries. Turkey captured over 50,000 people who were trying to cross the borders illegally in 2013, 71,000 in 2014 and 23,500 others in the first five months of this year.

The report noted that Turkey is a long-standing counter terrorism partner of the United States and it also co-chairs Counter terrorism Forum (GCTF) with the United States. "Turkey received U.S. assistance to address terrorist threat posed by PKK in 2014," it added.

The State Department also mentioned the other organizations recognized as terrorist organizations by Turkey, such as Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). "Turkey increased its cooperation with European countries regarding the activities of members of the DHKP/C," the report said.

The figures contained in the department's annual global terrorism report say that nearly 33,000 people were killed in almost 13,500 terrorist attacks around the world in 2014. That's up from just over 18,000 deaths in nearly 10,000 attacks in 2013, it said. Twenty-four Americans were killed by extremists in 2014, the report said. Abductions soared from 3,137 in 2013 to 9,428 in 2014, the report said.

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