Crossing way into Syria: Istanbul- Gaziantep
In this dossier, we publish our dialogues with mercenaries from Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Germany.
The mercenaries talked during the interviews about the ways they took to join Daesh, and why they fled and surrendered themselves to the People’s Protection Units.
Name and surname: Orhan Jobani, known between IS as Abu Anzala and Abu Issa
Orhan Jobani was born in 1997 in Kostival, Macedonia, to an middle class family. In October 2013 he joined IS mercenaries .
On his first acquaintance with IS mercenaries, Jobani said he knew of IS through two of his friends, one of whom joined IS and the other to( Jabhit al-Nusra), after Jobani knew IS, he changed the course of his life
It is no secret that many people joined IS from different parts of the world, but what route did they take when they decided to join Daesh and reach Syria?
Jobani spoke about the ways they took to reach Syria “I communicated with the mercenaries in Syria through my friend, and I told them that I wanted jihad. Arrivals from Germany, Kosovo and Moldova were gathered in a location close to Tel Rifaat.
“I spoke with someone there and asked him to give me a way to get there. He told me, ‘via Istanbul,’ many of those were Chechens who came to Syria came through Istanbul. He gave me a telephone number, and I called him and on his way to Istanbul. In the area where I lived, no one cared about these things, but in the capital, Skopje, many people joined in this way. In the city where I lived there were 4 or 5 people, and they also arrived in the same way as IS .
They told us that IS is fair and defends the rights of all Muslims. None of them spoke of blood-stained hands and IS barbarism. So I also decided to join IS.
After I arrived in Istanbul, I stayed at a hotel in Aqasri. I did not remember the hotel name. I called my friend there. He gave me the number of Abu Bakr al-Turki. I called him and told him I wanted to go to Syria and to trust me I told him how I got his number.
Abu Bakr al-Turki was in Gaziantep. He asked me to go there. After several days I went to Aintab. In the garage, I called Abu Bakr al-Turki. He asked me to wait while a friend arrived and took you from there. A person whose name I do not know and who left me was probably the same as Abu Bakr al-Turki, but I did not ask about his name.
Arriving at Istanbul and from there to Gaziantep, I had no problems or difficulties, and no one asked me about my destination.
The person Abu Bakr sent accompanied me from Gaziantep to Kilis, and from there we were joined by 3 other people and we went to the border. There were Turkish soldiers away from us. I do not know if they saw us but they did not cause us any problems. After crossing the border, we went to Azaz. “
Routes crossed by all mercenaries are similar, yet let us hear what the mercenaries have said, perhaps some secrets may be revealed.
Name and surname: Anwar Argul, among IS known as Abu Mariam al-Turki.
Anwar’s origin is Turkey’s Kars, a German citizen who was born and raised in Germany and was born in November 1991. He got to know IS mercenaries in Germany, at the mosque of Pakistan, where he got to know a man called Walli who had gone to areas of Daesh. In addition to others, including a person named Ravi and named Abu Mohammed, a Bosnian person named Alves and another Iranian named Badrin.
This strange group, which Anwar recognizes, promoted to him IS as a representation of Islam, and Daesh as a fair organization. In this way, Anwar was associated with IS mercenaries and asked him to join them. But what is hidden from Anwar is the fact that IS annihilated peoples, burned people alive, sold women in the markets of slavery, and practiced all kinds of obscene and vice.
And once again Istanbul – Gaziantep, the crossing way to Syria
This time, too, the Istanbul line was the route Anwar took to cross to Syria. After they portrayed IS to him a savior for all Muslims.
Anwar talks about how he crossed into Syria after he decided to join IS. “I traveled from Luxembourg to Istanbul with the help of an Iranian; Badrin. In Istanbul, I stayed at my grandmother’s house for a whole year, during which I met a member of IS called Abu al-Baraa who was working to transfer the participants from Istanbul to Syria. I met Abu al-Baraa through Wali. Abu al-Baraa Turkmani origin was living in Syria in the area between al-Rai and Jarablus, he was transporting IS element from Istanbul to Syria.
In December of 2015 I arrived with my wife to Gaziantep via Abu al-Baraa and met with Abu al-Barra near the Gaziantep airport. We went together to the village of Arbil by smugglers and from there we went to the border. “We crossed the border from a hill near the railway line, there were no soldiers, the border was empty, there was no inspection of IDs on the road between Istanbul and Gaziantep, and we crossed the border with ease, I did not see anyone on the border.”
No matter how the labels have changed, the one route comes from al-Balkans, from Caucasus and from Europe, but all the paths meet in Istanbul, while Gaziantep is the key station to crossing into Syrian territory.
Name and surname: Rasulov Najat, known as Abu Dawood al-Azri.
Rasulove from Baku city, Azerbaijan, was born to a middle-class family. Rasulov says he first heard from his brother, and joined IS mercenaries along with his comrades who joined IS in Iraq.
Rasulov was also influenced by the promotion of IS and that it would save Muslims from injustice, so he decided to join IS which committed daily massacres against civilians, but portrayed themselves as the sole and true and real representative for all Muslim in order to influence people and bring them into their ranks.
The path is always the same: Istanbul –Gaziantep
Rasulov continues with the Azerbaijanis who are in IS ranks in Iraq, got the WhatsApp number of a mercenary in IS and began his journey towards Syria.
Rusolv talked about what happened with him in Syria, and on the transit line Istanbul – Gaziantep saying “I got a number in Istanbul through one of my friends who joined ISI in Iraq, and with his help I arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on August 15, 2015. I did not find the person who was spoken of to me, I do not know his name. They came and took me to a house in Fatih area in Istanbul. We stayed there for about 40 days, we had two places in Fatih, one for men and one for women. When we were in Istanbul, we were always talking about religion. The place where we stayed was a house, we always went out and wandered, everyone there was bearded, we were walking around freely in the city, and throughout our stay there, I never found a policeman asking about us. The house was close to the football field; it was IS that provided our needs for the whole time we stayed there. One day, they told us that you could go, we took the bus from Istanbul to Gaziantep, we were 5 and an elderly woman among us. From there, a man took to a house where we stayed for about 4 days, and one night they took us by taxi to the border. During my stay in Turkey, during my travels, I did not encounter anyone asking about our identities, or who we are and what we do.
Our group consisted of 15 people. We moved by 3 cars from Gaziantep to the border. When we crossed the border, no one asked us where to go, and the border was empty. “
According to the mercenaries, groups of immigrants who spoke the same language gathered in groups. However, everyone was subject to military and political training. After completing the training period, they were sorted according to the results of the training, either to the killing fronts or to other places of Daesh service.
Orhan Gobani said “before moving to Azaz, my friends told me I was sorted to Azaz, then i went to Tel Riaat, and there were also elements of the Arnaout and the Germans in Tel Rifat.
After staying in Tell-Rifaat for 15 days, I moved to Jibrin, belonging to Azaz for military training. I joined training at the beginning of November. Military and legal training continued for 20 days. Because I did not know Arabic, I did not participate much in religious training. There were also citizens of Arnaut, and later they brought us a translator. After the training, I went back to Tel Rifat. I stayed there for ten days. At the beginning of December, I went to the front. We were fighting against the People’s Protection Units. We went to Azaz, we stayed there for 4 days. Then I spent 3 days on the border with Turkey. We were fighting against the Free Syrian Army.
I participated in the fighting against the People’s Protection Units at Tel Rifat until March 2014, and after the intensification of the battles against IS, we withdrew to al-Bab, Tishreen and Manbij. I participated in the first battles against the People’s Protection Units and the Free Syrian Army in Azaz and Tel Rifat. I was part of the group that withdrew to the Tishreen Dam. In this period, I changed my name from the organization. For example, the groups were known as the German or Uzbek group, but in the new organization the brigades were formed and I joined one of the battalions as a fighter. During that period, I fought against the Free Syrian Army for about 6 days, In Aleppo around 5 months.
Anwar Argul: When we crossed to Syria we went to a place called Bablimon, I think it belongs to al-Rai, and from there we went to a military point, there were some who spoke Turkish, the officials were Turks, we stayed for two days and then we went to the military camp in Hama where we received ideological lessons, military training and exercise. They used to tell us about the injustice that the Sunnis are subjected to, and they called the governments “the infidels”. They called all those who did not join their call the infidels. I received training for 3 months, and then I went to Aleppo’s Dodian and continued my shift there for 14 days.
Rasulov Najat: We crossed the border from Gaziantep and arrived at al-Rai. That night we stayed in one of the houses, and in the morning we went to al-Raqqa. In al-Raqqa we went to the training place, we received Islamic lessons, and after a month of training they took us to al-Tabqa, where we received military training. Wherever I went, most of al-Caucasian, al-Tajik, al-Uzbek and al-Dagestan elements were the ones who spoke the same language and gathered in one group.
When I was in al-Raqqa, I was working in the electricity maintenance and water establishment, I stayed there for about 8 months and I received there legitimate training.
IS’ truth from the point of view of surrendering elements
JOBANI: We believed that Muslims were oppressed and IS fought against this injustice, they told us, but the truth was not so. I came with my family but they did not allow me to see my father and mother. After a period of my arrival, my father did not return. I returned to see my mother, but for fear of being arrested in Macedonia, I went to Switzerland to my sister’s house. I was married to a woman named Diego and I have two children, then I knew the truth of IS injustice, they were killing people in the streets, they claimed that the organization guarantees freedom, but the truth was not, I saw how they burn people in cages, torture people because of smoking, but in footages, they would claim Islam. Everything we experienced; however, proved the opposite of what we were told, after seeing all this, I decided to flee and surrender to the People’s Protection Units.
Rasulov Najat: I joined Daesh as a Jihadist and was influenced by online promotion and television, but that propaganda was not real. For example, when I was in Azerbaijan, the videos they sent did not show war and battles, contrarily, they promoted beautiful life.
Najat went on” when I ascertained that they practice oppression and their calls for Islam are mere lies, I consulted a friend from al-Mayadeen who told me to resort to Syrian Democratic Forces saying “ they would question you for a while and then you will be sent to your country.”