Turkish authorities have charged an alleged Islamic State human trafficker with forcing Syrian refugee children, seeking safety from the terror group's wrath, into a prostitution ring in Southern Turkey.
In investigating an Islamic State attack last March that killed a police officer and Turkish soldier in the town of Niğde, local detectives uncovered communications between 29-year-old Ahmet Yumuşak and potential clients about the price of sex with underage Syrian refugee girls, the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported.
Turkish authorities, who have often been criticized for not doing enough to quell the flow of potential ISIS extremists across its borders into Syria, believe that Yumuşak was involved in the March ISIS attack and also accused him of helping to smuggle jihadi recruits into Syria to join the militant group.
In trying to get to the bottom of the attack, investigators discovered in wiretapped phone conversations that Yumuşak had made arrangements for Syrian refugee girls looking to flee the country to have sex with his "customers" through his prostitution ring in the southern region of Hatay. The report states that Yumuşak would discuss the prices with his customers and would would make recommendations like "the 16-year-old one is terrific."
It is unknown as of now how many girls Yumuşak led into his prostitution ring and how old, on average, they were. Along with Yumuşak, 10 others have been charged for their involvement in the March ISIS attack.
Another suspect named Ayhan Orli was also charged for using his connections in the Hatay region to acquire an aluminum powder that is often used to make explosives.
Authorities claim that Orli procured at least 50 kilograms of the substance and gave it to a local police officer who then smuggled it into Syria. It is believed that the powder eventually wound up in the hands of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Ahrar ash-Sham.
Although NATO member Turkey has received scrutiny for not doing enough to stop extremists from flowing into Syria, the country banned the crossing of the Turkey-Syria border last summer, only providing an exception for Syrian citizens.
But with over 12,000 Turkish nationals having joined ISIS already, extremists looking to join the Islamic State or other militant groups in Syria have been successful in faking Syrian documents and fooling Turkish border agents into allowing them to cross the border.
As the Turkey-Syria border has become the most common route for would-be jihadis into the group's caliphate, The Daily Mail reports that one of the biggest access points to the caliphate is crossing the border near the Turkish border town of Akcakale into the Syrian region of Tel Abiad, which was seized by ISIS and is located about 60 miles from the group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.