Turkish authorities have reportedly asked a senior Hamas commander to scale-back his activities in Turkey, in order to avoid Ankara being accused of abetting terrorism.
According to Haaretz, Turkish intelligence transmitted the request to Salah al-Arouri, who was expelled from Judea and Samaria by the IDF after being released from prison in the 2011 Schalit Deal, but who today continues to direct Hamas operations in the "West Bank" from his new base in Turkey.
Turkish intelligence services have long been aware of al-Arouri's activities, which even include running a network of training camps on Turkish soil, as well as recruitment, and planning and directing attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets. Until now, however, Turkey's Islamist AKP rulers – whose party is modeled on the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot – have chosen to turn a blind eye to Hamas terrorist activity in Turkey.
That changed at least slightly, according to the report, after Israeli defense officials complained to the US over the Hamas training camps operating with impunity inside Turkey – which is a member of NATO and considered a US ally.
American officials demanded an explanation from Ankara, which responded by telling al-Arouri to lower his profile in order to prevent Washington from accusing the Turkish government of aiding and abetting terrorism.
Al-Arouri is just one of a number of Hamas commanders based in Turkey. The move by a portion of Hamas's senior leadership to Turkey, which has taken a hostile stance towards Israel under Islamist President and former PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came after the terrorist group faced political tensions with previously sympathetic regimes in Syria, Egypt and even Qatar, where Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is still based.
Al-Arouri does not take his orders from the Hamas leadership in Gaza, but reports directly to Hamas's supreme "Shura Council," and Meshaal himself. Last year, he claimed responsibility for ordering the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion.
He has also directed a series of major terror plots foiled by Israeli security services, including an attempt to blow up Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, and another cell which planned – among other things – to launch a coup against the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.