Spy chief: Fighting ISIS not a priority for Turkey

2015-02-26 22:54
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting Islamic State jihadists and as a result foreign fighters are able to travel through the country into Syria, US intelligence chief James Clapper said on Thursday.

Asked if he was optimistic that Turkey would take a more active role in the war against the ISIS group, Clapper told senators: "No, I'm not."

"I think Turkey has other priorities and other interests," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Turkish government was more concerned with Kurdish opposition and the country's economy, the director of national intelligence said.

"Public opinion polls show in Turkey they don't see ISIL as a primary threat," said Clapper, using an alternative acronym for the extremists.

The effect of Turkey's approach was to allow a "permissive" climate for foreign recruits heading to Syria to take arms for the ISIS group, he said.

"And of course, the consequence of that is a permissive environment... because of their laws and the ability of people to travel through Turkey en route to Syria," Clapper said.

"So somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60% of those foreign fighters find their way to Syria through Turkey."

The spy chief said some other governments in the Middle East have been reluctant to join the US-led coalition against the ISIS group because of Washington's reluctance to directly confront the Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

But the "brutal savagery" of the ISIS militants, including the beheadings of hostages and the immolation of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot, "have had a galvanising effect on opinion in the Mideast region," he said.

There was more willingness to cooperate with the United States in the war effort, with some countries now sharing intelligence with Washington, he said.

Read more on:    isis  |  james clapper  |  turkey

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.