As the end of Daesh nears with its loss of vast swathes of lands in Iraq and Syria; Aylin Sekizkök, the deputy director general for security and intelligence at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that Turkey's fight against the terror group has continued in full swing with the aim of eliminating any remnants of the organization.
Speaking at a panel titled "Turkey's Fight against Terrorism" organized by The Foundation of Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) on Nov. 8, Sekizkök underlined Turkey's efforts and measures to confront the terrorist group since the day it first emerged.
The terrorist organization, which claimed a "caliphate" in 2014 and was able to expand through Iraq and Syria, has recently lost control of more than 80 percent of its territories. Following Daesh's strategic losses, the question is now how to manage the threat posed by returning foreign fighters.
Commenting on the speculated numbers of Turkish fighters who have returned to Turkey, Sekizkök affirmed that the allegations that 900 terrorists have returned to the country do not have basis and added that it is difficult to give an exact number.
"However, according to data from the Justice Ministry, the 600 Daesh-linked fighters who have returned to the country have been arrested," Sekizkök said and added that various Turkish institutions and ministries have been meticulously working on the issue of fighters returning from the battlefield.
"[When Daesh first emerged] Turkey was subjected to unjust claims that it was contributing the extension of Daesh, allowed the transit of foreign fighters and buying petroleum from the terrorists," Sekizkök said, stressing the misinformation being spread against Turkey. She added that in the first years of the fight against Daesh, Turkey's demands for intelligence sharing went unmet, making it more difficult to detect terrorists with valid passports, which later led to the false allegations against Turkey. Sekizkök highlighted that, "Turkey didn't play the slightest role in the forming of Daesh."
The United Nations Security Council's resolution in 2014, which holds the foreign fighter's country of origin of the transition along with the country where the transition occurs responsible, has increased the cooperation between the countries.
Touching on Turkey's efforts regarding the foreign fighters, Sekizkök stated that Turkey has taken serious security measures. As part of the measures, there is a list of 54,000 suspects who are not allowed to enter the country.
Sekizkök underlined that in order to prevent the entrance of foreign fighters who are not in the list, Turkey has established 65 risk analysis units to conduct interviews with the suspected people prior to their entrance into the country. "In this regard 10,000 people have been interviewed, and 4,000 of them have been deported," Sekizkök stated. She added that if foreign fighters are able to enter Turkey by skipping the aforementioned security measures, they will automatically be taken into deportation centers. Sekizkök said the number of people that have been deported after they entered Turkey is 5,550.
Stressing that Turkey has prevented numerous Daesh attacks, Sekizkök said the Daesh cells in Turkey have been substantially eliminated, adding that more than 9,000 people, half of whom are foreign fighters, have been detained from 2014 to 2017.
Following the recent developments in the battlefield, Sekizkök contended that the members of the Daesh terror group would either return to their home countries or continue their residence in Iraq and Syria under different forms as they lose their grip on key places.
Referring to the risks lying ahead, Sekizkök said Daesh's new strategy is internationalization, which means the aim of finding new ground in various countries. Other risks include the lone wolves who do not have solid links to the terror group but follow its radical ideology and plan attacks in their home countries on civilians.