Turkey has been branded a “terrorist state” and is under investigation by the Nigerian military over allegations it supplied “sophisticated weapons” to jihadist terror group Boko Haram, according to a senior army official.
In the latest revelation linking Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to jihadists, it is claimed that Turkish Airlines was responsible for shipping arms to Nigeria.
In a 2014 audio recording circulating on YouTube, the assistant executive of the Turkish airline, Mehmet Karatas, allegedly told Mustafa Varank, a former adviser to Mr Erdogan, then-Turkish Prime Minister, that he felt guilty over the arms shipment to Nigeria.
“I do not know whether these [weapons] will kill Muslims or Christians. I feel sinful,” Mr Karatas was allegedly heard saying. Mr Erdogan dismissed the claims at the time as “vile.” But Nigerian Defence Headquarters spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said on Wednesday:
“The veracity of the claims in the video cannot be ascertained immediately. “However, it is a serious national-security issue, and I believe it is receiving the required attention at the national strategic level.”
In May 2017 the Nigerian government claimed to have intercepted an illegal arms shipment from Turkey, seizing 440 illegal pump-action rifles at the port in Lagos. This came five months after customs officials halted a truck with 661 of the same weapons.
It is alleged that an intercepted phone call confirmed the arms deals, with Egpyt’s Ten TV host Nasha’t al-Deyhi saying:
“Today’s leak confirms without a doubt that Erdogan, his state, his government and his party are transferring weapons from Turkey to — this is a shock, to where you may ask — to Nigeria; and to whom? — to the Boko Haram organisation.”
Mr Erdogan has long been accused of supporting jihadist terror groups. European intelligence reports claimed that “forces” in his ruling party commissioned the Isis suicide attacks on a 2015 Ankara peace rally in which at least 109 people were killed.
In August, it was revealed that the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation had been smuggling scores of former Isis fighters across the Syrian border to lead battalions in the occupation of Afrin, which Ankara’s military invaded in January 2018.
Turkey is also alleged to have been the main buyer of oil originating from Isis sources in Iraq.
In late 2015, Mr Erdogan and his family were accused by Russia of personally benefiting from the criminal oil trade. Last month senior Isis commander Taha Abdurrahim Abdullah, a close confidant of deceased Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi , claimed Mr Erdogan ordered the attack on the largely-Kurdish city of Kobane in 2014.
More recently Turkey allied with jihadists to invade northern Syria where it is accused of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, rape and the use of chemical weapons.