(JNS.org) Turkey is believed to be the largest source of foreign fighters for the Islamic State terror group.
According to a report in the New York Times, more than 1,000 Turks are suspected to be fighting for Islamic State, many of them disaffected youths who are attracted to the jihadist group by its ideology as well as the money it pays its fighters, which may be up to $150 a day.
A recent Central Intelligence Agency estimate said that Islamic State has 20,000-31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. has pressed Turkey to take a more active role in combating Islamic State by stopping the flow of foreign fighters who use Turkey as an entry point and by preventing Islamic State from using Turkish black markets to export its oil, a key revenue source for the terror group.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has resisted the calls to crack down on Islamic State, citing the fate of 49 Turks the terror group is currently holding hostage.
“There are clearly recruitment centers being set up in Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, but the government doesn’t seem to care,” Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told the New York Times.
Additionally, Turkey has refused to allow the U.S. or other allies to use Turkish airbases for attacks on Iraq or Syria, and abstained from a declaration of support for the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State that was recently signed by Arab leaders.