ANF - News Desk
Mahmut Gazi Tatar is an ISIS member from Adıyaman province. He was arrested during the YPG's Tal Abyad operation last June, and is jailed in Rojava at the moment.
Mahmut Gazi Tatar’s name appears on the 21-person list of 'suicide bombers' wanted in Turkey. He spoke to ANF about how he met ISIS in Adıyaman, how ISIS recruits members in this region, and who sent him to Syria.
Fırat News Agency (ANF) reporters in Rojava interviewed the wanted suicide bomber Mahmut Gazi Tatar in the prison where he is jailed.
Mahmut Gazi Tatar said that they could easily cross into Syria through the 'path opened for ISIS' without facing any obstacles by Turkish soldiers.
The life of Mahmut Gazi Tatar, born in Adıyaman in 1991, changed while he worked at the Turkish state-run AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) camp for refugees as he studied at Adıyaman University. He said the following as to what he has been through since his acquaintance with the ISIS;
'I MET ISIS AT AFAD CAMP'
I met someone by the name of Ahmet Korkmaz soon after I started to work at AFAD refugee camp in the city. This person seemed to be working for a catering company at the camp. He soon started to give me advice and talk about different issues. After a while, our work was done there and I didn't see him for a long time until I encountered him in city centre, when he asked for my phone number and said we should talk.
TALKS ABOUT JIHAD
After a meeting at a tea house, which took place several days later, I started to visit his house near the Mezarlık (Cemetery) neighborhood. He was married and had two children. As our meetings and conversations got more intense, he started to talk about 'Jihad' openly.
After these talks, I started to perform prayer and fast, thinking that I was bettering myself. After the ending of Kobanê protests, he was now talking about ISIS and telling me about 'joining the Jihad'.
WE WERE TRAINED IN HIS HOUSE FOR 5 MONTHS
After a while; me, Yusuf, İbrahim, Mustafa and Heymen started to visit his house all together. He gave us a book called 'religious faith' on which we worked for a long time. We would summarize the parts he showed us from the book, and then he would ask us questions about those pieces. We were a total of six people receiving ideological training in his house, and this lasted for 5 months.
He wouldn't want us to get know to the other people who were also receiving training in his house in other groups. He would often warn us not to talk to other people, not to visit the houses of single people and not to use mobile phones. He said we should talk to either him or İbrahim when we had a problem. In addition to the ideological training, he was now making us watch videos of ISIS and preparing us for a war spiritually.
AHMET KORKMAZ DISAPPEARED
After a while, a man by the name of İbrahim called me and told me to come to the tea house. When I did so, he said that a search warrant had been issued for Ahmet.
As I met İbrahim several more times, he said Ahmet Korkmaz had told them that we could go to Syria if we wanted, and there was no war going on there as was shown on TV. He said we would just keep guard for a month and then be provided with a job fitting us.
When İbrahim told me about the details, I accepted to go to Syria. My family didn't know about all these things. If they knew that I would join the ISIS, they wouldn't allow me to go out even.
After İbrahim gave me the address, I went home, prepared my bag and left for Gaziantep, from where I went to Kilis.
ANTEP-KİLİS STATION WORKS FOR ISIS
When I arrived in Kilis after visiting Antep in accordance with the detailed address description İbrahim provided, I found the taxi stand near the bus station. Ibrahim had told me to ask the taxi drivers there to arrange a smuggler for me, and I acted accordingly. I went near a taxi driver and asked him to arrange a smuggler to take me into Syria. The taxi driver called someone, a Syrian, who later came there and picked me up. He took me to a house where there were 17 more people that had similarly come to join the ISIS. Among these, 2 were Kurds and others were Turks. I didn't know who they were because they were all civilians and we weren't allowed to ask any questions. At night, we were taken to the path above the Jarablus border gate.
SOLDIERS DIDN'T INTERVENE AS WE CROSSED THE BORDER
At the border, there were two paths opened by smugglers, one of which was for civilians and the other for those joining the ISIS. The scene was very close to Turkish soldiers who, however, didn't intervene at all. We then crossed into Syria through the path opened for ISIS. In the Syrian territory, we were met by a Turk called Ebubekir who took us to a village 2 km away.
Then came another man by the name of Ebu Talha who talked to us for a while before taking us to El Bap. After staying there for a week, we were taken to Maskere for military training which lasted 2 months and 10 days.
THEY PREPARED US FOR DEATH
After the military training, we were taken to Tabka for homage. After paying homage, we were asked where we wanted to go. I said I wanted to go to Aleppo in Syria or Anbar in Iraq.
They were clearly preparing us for death, from the ideological propaganda to the training process we were subjected to.
We were then told that YPG were advancing towards Siluk. It was only then that I learned about the ongoing battle with the YPG. Ebu Talha, who was from Antep, gave us more military training.
After the finalization of the military training, we went to Tabka where we again paid homage and were asked where we wanted to go. Many of us preferred to stay in Syria, and mainly in Damascus, about which we had been told many stories.
I WENT TO TAL ABYAD
When they asked me where I wanted to go, I said Aleppo and Anbar but they sent me to Tal Abyad instead as YPG had already made advances and most of us were being sent there after the military training.
YPG had taken the entire town of Siluk by then, and we were told that they would retreat to Raqqa from Tal Abyad the day after.
When we set off, we learned that the YPG had taken all the roads under their control. We were later taken to a village housing Syrian Ansar people. There we got off the cars and were planning to advance on foot. However, all the cars started to move one by one, and the car in which I was travelling was suddenly occupied by some other people that were all trying to save themselves. Everyone left there immediately, but me, the only foreigner, and 11 other Ansar people, who had joined ISIS from Syria, remained there.
At 7 pm in the evening, we left the village and started to go on foot when jets fired 3 rockets on us, which left 6 of those near me dead and one other wounded, while 4 fled the scene immediately. I was left there all alone. I turned back to the village and hid myself in an animal shelter where I took off the military uniform and wore a sweatsuit.
In the morning, inhabitants had returned to the village. I went out and looked around to see that YPG had closed the road and there was nowhere to go. Then I started to walk towards Tal Abyad, hoping that I would perhaps be given a chance to live if I surrendered to YPG. A group of YPG fighters captured me.
When we left Tal Abyad, there were a number of ISIS fighters inside the city. I do not know where they went, or if they crossed into the Turkish territory but it was quite difficult for them to cross into Raqqa.
THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH CROSSING THE TURKISH BORDER
There exists no problem about crossing the Turkish border. Our comrades were able to enter or leave Turkey easily. In commercial aspect, there is an oil agreement between Turkey and ISIS and they do this business with each other openly and freely.
ISIS HIDES ITS LOSSES
The fighters of ISIS can never learn about the outcomes of the war. ISIS tries not to frighten its fighters psychologically, and hides the number of the casualties it suffers. When jets launched airstrikes, they would tell us "Our God is above those jets", in an effort to give us morale.
I REGRET JOINING ISIS
I regret joining the ISIS. My life has been devastated. I do not know if I will ever have a life from now on, and I will remain a prisoner as long as I stay here.
I SAW ONLY MERCY FROM YPG
When I got caught by the YPG, I thought they would torture me to death. However, it was only mercy I saw from them. I could say many things about it but I can't ever tell them now.
I suggest that youths come to their senses, as we don't need to kill people to get into heaven. If you die, it is really an emancipation, but if you don't, your life is devastated.
If I am given back to ISIS through an exchange of prisoners, I fear that ISIS would call me an 'apostate'. If I go back to Turkey, I would get arrested and jailed. Youths, especially those in Adıyaman, must learn a lesson from my situation and never dare such a thing.
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