Turkey’s Middle Eastern borders have always been porous and prone to smuggling and clandestine crossings. After the Syrian turmoil broke out in 2011, long-standing smuggling routes became supply channels for armed rebels, including the Islamic State (IS). Having lost control on the ground, IS may be unable to use the smuggling routes as before, but its cross-border dealings are far from over.
IS members, it turns out, have resorted to traditional methods of money transfer via exchange offices and jewelry companies they have set up in Syria and Turkey, called al-Haram, al-Hebo, al-Khalidi and Saksouk. On Sept. 19, the Turkish police detained 22 suspects accused of running transnational money-transfer networks for IS in simultaneous raids on 37 locations in eight provinces across the country.