March 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Operatives in Turkey Recruit Palestinians for Terror Attacks

March 6, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Operatives in Turkey Recruit Palestinians for Terror Attacks

Latest Developments 

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, arrested four Palestinian students from the West Bank on Monday, whom it said were recruited by Hamas operatives in Turkey to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. The arrests signal that Hamas continues to enjoy operational freedom in Turkey despite Israeli diplomatic efforts to have the terrorist group ousted from that country.

Expert Analysis

“Ankara refuses to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and continues to allow the organization to exist in Turkey. Both Ismail Haniyeh, a top Hamas leader residing in Turkey, and his son have Turkish passports. It is likely that Erdogan wants to keep Hamas in his back pocket as a means of having leverage over Israel as the two countries continue to develop bilateral ties.”
Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

Training in Turkey and Syria

The Shin Bet stated that one of the suspects, Ahmed Mahmoud Abu Salah, 24, traveled to Turkey for academic purposes. Hamas recruited Salah with the aid of Hamas operative Iyad ‘Adin Aqre. In addition, Salah received weapons training in Turkey and Syria. According to the Shin Bet, before Salah’s return to the West Bank, he met with senior Hamas official Azzam Aqre who directed him to recruit additional terrorists and establish a cell that would carry out terror attacks inside Israel.

The Shin Bet arrested three other students who collaborated with Salah. The group planned to carry out terrorist attacks, including a bombing. According to the Shin Bet, the four students contacted a relative, Abadah Abu Salah, the son of senior Hamas official in Turkey, Salah Abu Salah.he Shin Bet wrote that senior Hamas officials, including Hamas’ West Bank chief Saleh al-Arouri, directed Abadah Abu Salah to take advantage of his family connection with the suspects to recruit them into Hamas.

Hamas Operations in Turkey

In late October, Israel indicted three Israeli citizens for providing intelligence to Hamas operatives in Turkey. Authorities have only identified the suspects by their initials, but said the individuals identified with Hamas ideology and planned to carry out a cyberattack against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The main suspect worked as a software engineer for an Israeli communications firm and met Hamas operatives in Turkey multiple times to transfer sensitive information about Israeli communications infrastructure.

In 2019, Hamas members in Istanbul were actively directing terror attacks against Israeli officials, according to The Daily Telegraph. The Shin Bet arrested Adham Muselmani after Hamas recruited him to carry out a terrorist attack against Israeli officials, including Jerusalem’s mayor at the time, Nir Barkat.

Related Analysis

Turkey Supports Hamas, Which Means an Alliance With Israel Isn’t Going To Happen,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Turkey After Erdogan,” by Sinan Ciddi

Turkey’s Erdogan must take concrete action on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” by Sinan Ciddi


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics Turkey