Hamas’ Enablers in the Turkish Government

Turkey’s patronage of Hamas is well-established and widely known. Ankara has hosted the terrorist organization inside of its borders since 2011.

Since Hamas carried out deadly terrorist attacks on October 7, the Turkish government has pursued a duplicitous policy of increasing its public advocacy for Hamas, vilifying Israel in the minds of Turkish citizens, all while profiting from continued trade with Israel. While the U.S. Treasury has increased efforts to sanction persons and entities inside Turkey that provide material aid to Hamas, what is glaringly missing from the Treasury’s list of sanctioned persons is senior Turkish parliamentarians close to Erdogan and members of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).

While it is easy to declare that Turkey actively supports Hamas, the statement is less meaningful unless we identify who, in Turkish government circles, actively works to support Hamas’ operations. The government’s effort to play patron to Hamas begins with Erdogan. Without his blessing and direction, no one inside the state apparatus would dare shill for the terror group. Directly below Erdogan is Hasan Turan—an AKP member of Parliament from Istanbul and President of the “Turkey-Palestine Interparliamentary Friendship Group.” Digging into his background reveals that Turan plays one of the most—if not the most—prominent government roles in facilitating Hamas’ goals.

In day-to-day advocacy, Turan plays a point by organizing high-level meetings between senior Hamas leaders and Turkish political elites. In 2019, Turan, along with Jihad Yaghmour—Hamas’ representative in Turkey (sanctioned by the United States and United Kingdom in December 2023)—hosted Taher al-Nunu, advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas leader. At Erdogan’s inauguration in June 2023, Turan facilitated the meeting of another prominent Hamas operative, Mohammed Mushanish. As President of the “Palestinian Solidarity Association” (FIDDER), a pro-Hamas NGO in Turkey, Mushanish uses the organization to host Hamas operatives at speaker events, including “Osama Hamdan” (U.S. sanctioned), Saleh al-Arouri, Ali Barakeh (U.S. sanctioned), Husam Badran, and Nawaf Takruri. On October 12, five days after the October 7 attack, Turan hosted Basim Naim at the Turkish Parliament. Naim was the “health minister” for the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which has since been exposed as having enabled Hamas to run military operations out of a network of hospitals across the Gaza Strip.

Arguably, Turan’s greatest achievement is not isolated to his championing of Hamas but in his ability to ensure that advocacy for the Gaza-based terrorist organization goes hand in hand with advocacy for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Meet Hameed Abdullah Hussein al Ahmar, a Yemeni national and president of “The League of Parliamentarians for Al Quds” (LP4Q). Al Ahmar is knee-deep in ties to terrorist organizations, having served as a board member of the now-U.S. sanctioned “Union of Good” and chairman of the “Al Quds International Foundation,” another entity sanctioned by the U.S. in 2012 for providing financial support to Hamas. He is known to have close ties to Erdogan. Al Ahmar uses Turkey as a base for LP4Q to further the interests of both Hamas and the MB. LP4Q was established in Istanbul in 2015, and it has a membership of 1500 parliamentarians from around the world. LP4Q has clear ties to Hamas. Following the October 7 attacks, LP4Q leaders such as Mohammad Makram Balawi have shared the stage at speaker events featuring senior Hamas operators such as Khaled Mashaal. In November 2023, LP4Q hosted Hamas leader Ahmed Bahr in an event titled “Ways to protect Al Aqsa Mosque from Israeli aggression.” Bahr was later killed in an attack in Gaza.

While LP4Q may be an NGO, it has developed relationships with Turkish government officials under al Ahmar’s leadership and Turan’s. For example, Turkey’s former Finance Minister, Nureddin Nebati, serves as the president of LP4Q’s Turkey chapter. On November 8, 2023, members of LP4Q held a meeting with the speaker of the Turkish Parliament and AKP member Numan Kurtulmus (a close lieutenant of Erdogan). The group also held discussions with HUDA-PAR, the Iran-backed extreme Islamist political party that is a member of Erdogan’s electoral alliance. In January of this year, al Ahmar spoke at the “International Conference in Support of Gaza” in Istanbul, where another featured speaker was Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and included the participation of Turkish parliamentarians.

Finally, in addition to recruiting members of the Turkish government for pro-Hamas activities, al Ahmar also has ties to terrorism financing, including Amer Alshawa, whom the U.S. sanctioned in October 2023. Alshawa is known for his role in running several Hamas investment portfolio companies, notably the Turkey-based “Trend GYO,” which itself was sanctioned in May 2022. Al Ahmar was the president of Trend GYO’s board until November 2022, according to Turkish corporate records, and was also an investor in the company. If all this was not bad enough, Turkey’s national news wire service, Anadolu Agency, agreed to collaborate with LP4Q “in order to serve the Palestinian and the cause of Jerusalem in the media and to confront the disinformation and falsification campaigns of the Israeli media machine.”

All this is very striking, not because senior Turkish government officials have ties to sanctioned terrorist entities, but because they are not shy about maintaining and promoting these relationships in the open on conventional and social media platforms. This is likely due to their actions having little to no consequences. Moreover, Erdogan’s recent statement, “Turkey is a country that stands firmly behind Hamas,” motivates political actors to advocate for terrorist causes. All this would be bad for Turkey if the international community held it accountable. Alas, it does not. Instead, the Biden administration is preparing to host Erdogan at the White House in May, thereby obfuscating the undeniable fact that he and his government are supporters of terrorist causes that Turkey’s allies would like reigned in. More must be done to hold Ankara to account.

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