Turkish soldiers overlooking the Syrian town of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite international pressure mounting on Turkey to secure its border with Syria, the journey for an aspiring jihadi fighter remains rather simple. All it takes for him to cross into Syria from Turkey is about $25 and the help of a smuggler, the Huffington Post reported.
Turkey's 500-mile border with Syria remains permeable, serving as a "jihadi highway" for wannabe fighters, in the control of Turkish criminal gangs and border guards that can easily be bribed for a rather insignificant sum of money.
Jasim Qalthim, one of many Turkish smugglers, told the Huffington Post that the Turks "could make it [smuggling] harder if they wanted."
He explained how, often, when one area of the border closes, another opens up, essentially giving smugglers a loophole to counter government efforts to suppress illegal border crossings.
Qalthim told the Post that at times, smugglers "buy" sections of the border for 30-minute intervals from Islamic State emirs in control of the border guards, who operate out of fear.
Such emirs thrive off of their power and make significant amounts of money used to purchase weapons and ammunition for Islamic State.
Turkey expert Aaron Stein, an associate fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, expressed doubt that Turkey will be able to fasten its hold on its Syrian border, telling the Huffington Post, "you have bent officers taking bribes to let people through a border the whole world is asking Turkey to close. You have ambitious middle men who are profiting on the killing of Syrians.”
"Cleaning up this mess may not be possible," he expressed.
Anas, 20, told the Post that he,"bribes the Turkish border guards," allowing him to easily cross Turkey's official border despite not being in possession of a passport.
Rami Zais, 23, expressed similar views, saying he crosses the border regularly sans-passport with the help of Turkish and Syrian smugglers whom he pays $25-$50 per trip.
Abu Hawrain, 24, said border guards disregard the law and "let anyone cross if they have money," according to the Huffington Post.