Capture of Top al-Qaeda Operative Highlights Turkey’s Role in U.S.-NATO Terror Operations

Al-Zawahiri’s Man in Libya Detained in Turkey: Another Desperate Attempt to Save the War on Terror Myth

Since the start of the so-called “Syrian civil war,” NATO member Turkey has played a decisive role in fueling the conflict by funneling countless weapons and fighters into Syria. Were it not for Turkey’s strong support of terrorists fighting in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) would not have been possible, as ISIS fighters themselves acknowledged.[1] The siege of Kobani drew a lot of attention to Turkey’s relationship with the much-hyped terrorist group and even Western mainstream media is finding it increasingly difficult to ignore that the Turkish authorities support ISIS in any and every possible way.[2]

But contrary to popular belief, Turkey did not become a safe haven for terrorists only recently. The strategically located country has long been used as a base for various U.S./NATO terror operations. Since the 1990s, Turkey, along with Azerbaijan, has served as the main conduit for the ‘Gladio B’ operations, which introduced the tried and tested method of using jihadist mercenaries as foot soldiers to a new theater of operations, namely the Balkans, Central Asia and the Caucasus region.[3] Therefore, it is no accident that many Chechen  terrorists can be found in Turkey, as highlighted by Russian network in the country.[4] After violence rocked the Chechen capital Grozny in early December, it did not take long before Turkey’s role in sheltering “Chechen rebels” became again the focus of attention. Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov immediately accused Western security services and Akhmat Umarov, the brother of former North Caucasus insurgency leader Doku Umarov, of organizing the attack and he urged Russia’s law enforcement agencies to demand Umarov’s extradition from Turkey, where the prominent Chechen is reportedly living at the moment.[5] The Turkish authorities and their Western partners know exactly how to exploit Chechen refugees in order to ensure an abundant supply of fighters for current operations, be it the destabilization of the North Caucasus or the war in Syria. Taking a stand against this modus operandi can be very dangerous, as the case of Medet Onlu shows. Onlu wasan influential figure in Turkey’s ethnic Caucasian community who bore the unofficial title “honorary consul of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria” up until his assassination in Ankara in May of last year. The suspicion quickly focused on Russia but Onlu’s family and lawyer suspect that he was killed because he was an obstacle on the “jihadist highway” to Syria.[6]

Onlu’s assassination serves as a reminder that nobody is indispensable. Even high-level terrorists, who have been useful in the past, are taken off the streets from time to time for different reasons, one of which is to maintain the illusion of the “Global War on Terrorism.” Last year’s arrest of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith illustrates this very well. After being nowhere to be found for several years, Abu Ghaith turned up in a five star hotel in the heart of Ankara at the beginning of last year. The Turkish authorities, acting on a tip from the CIA, detained the top al-Qaeda leader and questioned him extensively but refused to extradite him to the United States.[7] Instead they decided to deport Abu Ghaith to his home country, Kuwait, where he never arrived since the CIA snatched him during a stopover in Jordan.[8] Interestingly, the curious arrest of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith  in Turkey is not an isolated incident and there are some noteworthy parallels to the recent capture of al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Baset Azzouz:

An operative who was dispatched to Libya by al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri was reportedly captured in Turkey and is now being held in Jordan.

Azzouz was handpicked by Zawahiri to oversee al Qaeda's efforts in post-revolution Libya. According to the Turkish reports, Azzouz was detained in mid-November after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Turkish authorities located him in the "summer resort" area of Yalova, which is south of Istanbul. Two laptops and a fake passport were captured along with Azzouz.

According to an account by the Washington Post, Azzouz was soon deported to Jordan, where he is currently being held.[9]

“It is not clear what Azzouz was specifically doing in Turkey at the time of his capture” but it is worth pointing out that Azzouz’s colleagues from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and other “Libyan rebels” have made their way to Syria via Turkey.[10] Moreover, CIA and MI6 have been shipping tons of weapons from Libya to Turkey in order to arm the terrorists fighting in Syria and Azzouz’s possible involvement in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which provided cover for the moving of arms,[11] raises new questions because there is some evidence to suggest that the Benghazi attack was aimed at silencing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who opposed the CIA operation.[12] At any rate, it comes as no real surprise that the alleged leader of al-Qaeda in Libya was captured in Turkey and that the CIA provided the tip leading to his arrest.[13]

A few weeks prior, the U.S. State Department had added Abd al-Baset Azzouz to the U.S. government's list of specially designated global terrorists,[14] which prompted the British press to draw attention to the fact that Azzouz had been “arrested and detained but then freed by the British authorities.”[15] After living in Manchester for several years, Azzouz allegedly left Britain in 2009 for Pakistan, “where he became a close lieutenant of al-Zawahiri before being sent to Libya” but his ties to top ‘Gladio B’ operative Ayman al-Zawahiri date back to the 1980s. According to an unclassified report by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress titled “Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile,” Azzouz “has been close to al-Zawahiri since the 1980s and first traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1990s to join mujahidin fighting the Soviet occupation.”[16] So Azzouz did not start his terrorist career only recently and up until a few weeks ago, he could count on the support of the U.S. and its allies.

If Abd al-Baset Azzouz paid any attention to what happened to his close colleague Anas al-Liby, he could have seen it coming. As highlighted last year, al-Liby was snatched from the streets of the Libyan capital Tripoli and presented as one of the most dangerous terrorists on the planet after he had been doing Washington’s bidding in several countries for more than two decades. The similarities between the cases of Abd al-Baset Azzouz and Anas al-Liby are remarkable. Both started their careers as jihadist mercenaries in Afghanistan, where they forged close ties with Ayman al-Zawahiri & Co., before they eventually settled in Manchester, enjoying the hospitality of the British authorities:

“LIFG terrorist al-Liby eventually settled in Manchester after he was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 1995 despite objections from the Libyan government [12] and an extradition request from Egypt.[13] Then in late 1995 or early 1996 British intelligence service MI6 reportedly paid the LIFG approximately $160.000 of taxpayers’ money to kill Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.[14] The plot failed, several militants and innocent bystanders were killed but Gaddafi survived. Abu Anas al-Liby was protected by the British authorities and continued to live unimpeded in Manchester until May 2000 when he was arrested but managed to escape under dubious circumstances…”[17]

Later on, Azzouz and al-Liby showed up in Libya to support NATO’s “Libyan revolution” and run al-Qaeda’s operations in the country on behalf of al-Zawahiri, who has been working for the U.S. and NATO all along.[18] But despite all that, we are led to believe that the capture of Abd al-Baset Azzouz represents a significant success in the so-called “Global War on Terrorism.” Instead it looks like another desperate attempt to save the War on Terror myth, while more and more people realize that the terrorists, who are wreaking havoc across the Middle East and North Africa Region, are backed by the U.S., Turkey and other nefarious players.    

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Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst
Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here


[1] Deniz Kahraman, “ISIS Terrorists Thank AKP for Hospital Treatment,” Aydınlık, 26 June 2014:

[2] David L. Phillips, “Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links,” Institute for the Study of Human Rights, 22 November 2014:

[3] Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, “Why was a Sunday Times report on US government ties to al-Qaeda chief spiked?,” Ceasefire Magazine, 17 May 2013:

[4] Sibel Edmonds, “BFP Exclusive: US-NATO-Chechen Militia Joint Operations Base,” Boiling Frogs Post, 22 November 2011:

[5] Christoph Germann, “The New Great Game Round-Up #78,” Boiling Frogs Post, 8 December 2014:

[6] Sibel Utku Bila, “Syrian link suspected in Chechen murder in Ankara,” Al-Monitor, 25 November 2014:

[7] “Interview 598 – Sibel Edmonds on Gladio B, Protected Terrorists and Stifled Investigations,” The Corbett Report, 8 February 2013:

[8] “US captured Bin Laden son-in-law on the way to Kuwait,” Hürriyet, 7 March 2013:

[9] Thomas Joscelyn, “Representative of Ayman al Zawahiri reportedly captured in Turkey,” The Long War Journal, 7 December 2014:

[10] Tony Cartalucci, “Libyan Terrorists Are Invading Syria,” Land Destroyer Report, 14 August 2012:

[11] Seymour Hersh, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” London Review of Books, 17 April 2014:

[12] “Interview 876 – James Corbett Blows the Lid Off of Benghazigate,” The Corbett Report, 5 May 2014:

[13] “Turkish security forces capture Benghazi attack suspect: report,” Daily Sabah, 4 December 2014:

[14] “Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters,” U.S. Department of State, 24 September 2014:

[15] Robert Mendick, Tom Whitehead & Raf Sanchez, “Freed UK prisoner is al-Qaeda ringleader,” The Telegraph, 27 September 2014:

[16] “AL-QAEDA IN LIBYA: A PROFILE,” The Library of Congress, August 2012:

[17] Christoph Germann, “Desperate Attempts to Save the Myth of the War on Terror,” Boiling Frogs Post, 11 October 2013:

[18] “Episode 258 – Know Your Terrorists: Ayman Al-Zawahiri,” The Corbett Report, 16 February 2013:

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  1. robin unger says:

    great article. happy new year

  2. Thomas Wonsetler says:

    Thank you ! Very ihteresting article ! Thanks for the work you do.

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