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The Islamic State

In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State kidnapped 49 employees of the Turkish consulate in Mosul, including 46 Turks and three Iraqis. According to the Turkish daily Taraf, 180 Islamic State members in Turkish prisons or hospitals were traded by Ankara in exchange for the Mosul hostages, despite a U.S. request not to do so.191 Turkey, for example, detained thousands of suspected Islamic State backers in 2015 and 2016 but did not file even a single terror finance prosecution in either year.192

Likewise, Qatar did not file a single prosecution for terror finance until 2015.193 Qatar finally issued a terror blacklist in 2018 as a result of pressure from the United States and its allies in the GCC. However, the Qataris omitted the Islamic State’s main branch in Syria and Iraq, among others.194

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When Turkey launched a long-threatened offensive into northeast Syria on October 9, 2019, it sparked fears of an Islamic State resurgence in the area. Warnings ensued that by attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Washington’s key partner in the war against the Islamic State, Ankara could allow thousands of captured jihadists to break free.195 SDF forces had been guarding more than 10,000 Islamic State fighters and their families in make-shift prisons in northeast Syria, but Turkey’s intervention pushed Kurdish forces farther back from the Turkish-Syrian border, resulting in the escape of more than 800 Islamic State detainees.196 Turkey, the Trump administration claims, has vowed to contain Islamic State prisoners in the area, but it remains unclear whether Ankara will fulfill that promise given the blind eye it has turned to jihadists in the past.197

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