GIRE SPI (TEL ABYAD) (ANF) – ISIS fighter Mahmut Gazitatar who joined the jihadist organization from Adıyaman province of North Kurdistan, told that ISIS recruited members at the camps hosting Syrian refugees located between Adıyaman and Urfa.
The ISIS member from Adıyaman told that he had been fighting YPG/YPJ in the ranks of the Constantine Brigade made up of Turkish forces in Girê Spî, and called on the youths of Adıyaman not to let themselves be deceived.
As the Turkish state continues providing to support to ISIS gangs in Rojava and Syria, Adıyaman province in the Kurdish region of Turkey serves as one of the locations where ISIS can get organized freely.
Mahmut Gazitatar who crossed into Syria and joined ISIS after completing his training in one of the camps in Adıyaman, was captured alive in the operation of YPG/YPJ fighters to liberate Girê Spî.
Gazitatar spoke to ANF about his process from Adıyaman to Syria, the ISIS training camp in Adıyaman and the “Constantine Brigade” made up of Turks.
Could you shortly introduce yourself?
My name is Mahmut Gazitatar. I was born in Adıyaman, I am 24 years old. Before joining the ISIS, I had been visiting the 2nd class of the Building-Insulation Department of Adıyaman University.
Could you tell us about your process of joining the ISIS gangs?
In order to earn some money to meet my school needs, I started working for the Yaşar Sofra Catering Company which belongs to my uncle and provides food for the Syrian refugees at a camp between Adıyaman and Urfa. During the course of my work there, I would generally spend my time alone, not hanging out or having a close relation with somebody. One day, I me someone by the name of Ahmet Korkmaz who was similarly working for another catering company providing food for the camp. As we met and he told me about himself, our talks gained a religious insight after some time. What he repeatedly told me about hell and heaven instilled a fear inside me, and I started performing prayer with the influence of our talks. I was on the other hand feeling well and happy, as my manner of living had changed and I had, upon his suggestions, also started reading books with religious content. When we were done with our work at the camp, me and Ahmet started meeting in Adıyaman. As our relation progressed, religion became the single talking point for us. One day, Ahmet asked me if I wanted to join the training, and I accepted it. Ahmet Korkmaz had a house in the Mezarlık neighborhood near the Adıyaman Stadium, and he was using this house as a “religious training camp”. Then I started to receive training there, together with three other people by the name of Yusuf, Eymen and İbrahim.
What was the manner of living in the camp, what training did you receive there?
The manner of living in the camp was based on religious principles. We were given lessons on jihad for five months.
Did the camp house any groups other than you?
We were attending the camp on some certain days of the week. I do not know if there was another training or other groups there. Most of the activities were kept secret from us. It was not allowed for groups to know or ask about the others.
What happened after this period of five months?
The lessons were suspended for some time after those five months. Later, Ahmet turned out to be searched, and he said he wouldn’t be able to stay in Turkey anymore. After a while, we learned from İbrahim that Ahmet had crossed into Syria.
Did you meet İbrahim in that camp?
Right, we met each other there. İbrahim was a quite person, an age-mate of mine, and unemployed. He was still living in Adıyaman when I left there. During the course of the training, İbrahim was acting like Ahmet’s assistant.
During the course of the training provided to you by Ahmet Korkmaz, was that house targeted by any raids or searches?
No, it wasn’t.
What about your process of joining the ISIS?
After Ahmet crossed into Syria, our talks with İbrahim continued. Ahmet was sending us news through İbrahim. In the May of 2015, Ahmet once again sent news through İbrahim and asked if I wanted to join ISIS. He said that the war wasn’t like it was being told, that there was no war in Syria, and that the news of war were distorted reports of the media. I was told that I would be given a work I wanted and be able to lead a normal life within the Islamic State after one month of Ribat (watch duty) in Syria. Because of the difficulties in my life, and the jihad training I had received, I accept to join ISIS. Jihad ordered us “either victory or martyrdom”. While you live, this would help enlarge the lands of the Islamic State, and when you die, you would benefit from the blessings of God, sustenances and houris. I was told that “In any case, you end up profitable, and win”. That is why I decided to join.
How did you cross into Syria from Adıyaman?
After I accepted to join, İbrahim told me to be ready the next day. I packed my bag hid and it in a building under construction, telling my family that I would go to hospital. The next day, I woke up early, performed prayer, tok my bag from the building, and met İbrahim who told me “You will go to Kilis and meet the taxi driver in contact with us at the minibus station”. He described the taxi driver, as a short, plumpy and mustached man at the age of 35. He didn’t tell me his name. I got a bus and travelled first to Antep, then to Kilis. There I went to the minibus station and found the taxi driver whom İbrahim had told me about. The taxi driver called the courier who would help me cross into Syria. The courier took me from there to a place outside Kilis which was being used as a camp of gathering and crossing. It was a place amidst trees where there were some four-five adobe houses. There were 17 more people there who came from various parts of Turkey.
Do you know where exactly was the camp you mention located? Was it at the border?
It was not at the border but I do not remember where exactly it was.
From which point did you enter Syria?
The courier took us from there to an area located at a distance of one kilometer from the Jarablus Border Gate. There was a point where Syrian civilians crossed the border. At a point 150 meters close to there, he had us cross into Jarablus.
Could you tell what you lived and what happened after your crossing into Jarablus?
The persons who met us after our crossing told that we would be taken to the city of Bab and join a training camp there. We said we weren’t told and we didn’t know about that training camp. “It is a new implementation. You will receive religious education and military training after that” they replied, and took us to the camp. This wasn’t what we had expected. I was planning to go through a one-month watch duty, after which I was going to be provided a job and live within the Islamic State. There I understood that it wasn’t going to work that way.
Where were you taken to after the training camp?
After the training camp, we were taken to Tabqa for an oath-taking ceremony where we swore allegiance to the Caliph. Then I was sent to Tal Abyad.
Were you sent to Tal Abyad alone, to which brigade were you assigned, and was there any Turkish citizen other than you there?
We were sent to Tal Abyad as a 27-men brigade which was completely made up of Turks and called Constantine Brigade. When we arrived at Tal Abyad, YPG had already started to make advances towards it. Sounds of clashes could be heard from the town center by then. I walked around in the center only once. People were afraid of ISIS members.
During those days when YPG were advancing towards Girê Spî, were the ISIS gangs preventing the leave of civilian people?
Right, we had already been instructed to “not leave the civilians”. We tried to hinder the leave of the civilians till the last moment. As YPG started to siege the city, we were told that we needed to flee there and go to Raqqa.
How were you captured?
YPG had laid a siege around the city from all sides by then. We were encircled in a village to the south of the city while trying to flee there. In a clash there, those near me were all killed. I hid myself in a byre and stayed there for a while before being captured alive during a search by YPG there.
What happened when you were captured, how did the YPG treat you?
I got to know YPG after my capture, and learned humanity, bravery and conscience from them. When I think what ISIS members would do to a YPG member they captured, there would be a world of difference. The YPG fighters that captured me gave me cigarette, water, biscuit, tea, food and coffee. I got to know YPG and its fighters there. After my capture as an enemy of theirs, I firstly thought that they would either shoot or behead me, or run over me with a car. This was what I thought they would do in response to what ISIS does to the people. They were, however, always good to me and they continue doing so.
Have you ever been prevented from practicing your faith here in this prison?
No, I pray, I read the Qoran. I have never been prevented from practicing my faith here.
Do you have a message for young people living in Adıyaman?
My message for the youth in Adıyaman is this; pull yourself together. There is no victory or martyrdom out there, your life will be ruined and everything will end. There are big differences between what is told in Turkey and what I saw here, ISIS is not like how it is described to us.
You cannot do much after regretting your decision. Understand everything carefully and act upon that later. We only read books about the beauties of Islam in our education camp. I have not seen ISIS implement any of the things we read in those books. ISIS declared everyone that is not loyal to it as the enemy, and uses violence to force religion upon people. Religion is voluntary, our prophet never forced anyone into religion. ISIS beheads those that do not show allegiance, so young people should be on the watch for those people who try to trap them in Adıyaman.
By Sedat Sur – ANF