Email from Turkey and mixed news on the terror front

In which I get an email from an old friend in Turkey, discuss the al Qa’ida arrests this weekend and review warnings of increased terror recruitment that seems to be up even before a war goes down.

Immediately after yesterday’s vote that rejected U.S. requests to use Turkey as a staging area for a northern front, I emailed my old friend Aykut about the developments there. His email follows:

Dear Chris,
This is also a very big surprise for us. Personally, I am proud of being a citizen of a country which shows her dignity like this. Our deputies show that the Turkish parliament is not an approval office and Turkey is not a country for sale…
Shortly the story is this: In fact, AKP [Justice and Development Party] government had decided to bring the decision to the parliament last Thursday, but suddenly on the last minute they changed their mind and decided to bring it today [Saturday]. Some analysts claim that the AKP leadership did not want to take all of the responsibility and wants to share it with the National Security Committee which was going to meet on Friday. You know The National Security Committee is a constitutional institution in which the President and the generals are represented as well as the the members of the civil government. (Suitability of such institution in democracies is another subject of debate). But the National Security Committee did not even mention about this decision in their conclusion report. So they wanted the AKP government to take the all the political responsibility by themselves. In fact you know AKP holds the 2/3 of the parliament. We knew that Erdogan had some difficulties of persuading some of his own deputies. There are demonstrations all around Turkey. More than 50.000 people gathered in Ankara today, but still nobody was thinking about such a result. Now, the prime minister with some other ministers are in the meeting. It seems that they are going to bring the decision to the parliament next Tuesday one more time. But we know that there are ministers in the government in fact they are against this decision, so you see, last week we were sure that this decision would definitely be passed, but now nobody knows what will happen. Tomorrow [Sunday] AKP will declare what are they going to do… It will be a very interesting week….
When something interesting happens in here, I will write…. Stay well….

Well, as we now know, the AKP has shelved any plans on introducing a new proposal on Tuesday as Aykut thought yesterday.
“The proposal has been delayed to an open-ended time. There is no proposal for the foreseeable future,” said Eyup Fatsa, deputy head of AKP. Turkey, however, wants to mend fences with the United States, and may introduce a new plan in parliament if the United Nations Security Council approves the U.S. and U.K. proposal submitted Monday last week. A vote on that proposal won’t be coming for another two weeks in all likelihood, however, so even if Turkey does introduce a new troop deployment proposal, it will likely be too little too late.
Which could be the Turks’ plan all along! If Turkey had the political cover of a UNSC resolution but no time to make the troop approval logistically feasible, the Turks could always say, “Look, we approved your troops. Too bad things didn’t work out time-wise. Maybe next time.”
In other happenings, it’s very, very good news that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., was captured in Pakistan. Also, intelligence officials said he was “carrying the names and phone numbers of members of al-Qaeda sleeper cells in North America.” The most disturbing detail about his life, however, was that he apparently learned “flawless” English at Chowan College, a Baptist university in North Carolina. Also, and perhaps most personal for me as a journalist, he apparently ordered the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and may have been the man who slit his throat.
There are conflicting reports of where he is or who has custody of the suspect. An unnamed Pakistani government minister said he had been handed over to U.S. custody shortly after his arrest, along with two other al Qa’ida suspects, in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi on Saturday. But Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat denied this.
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in the custody of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies and until we have satisfied ourselves, after the interrogation process, of the nature of his activities in Pakistan, there is no question of handing him over to anyone.”
He is also, according to Hayat, still in Pakistan.
But there are disturbing aspects to his arrest. The same Reuters story said another unnamed source, this time for the U.S. government, expected Mohammed to be “interrogated” — read, “tortured” — in an undisclosed foreign country. I understand the necessity of it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or approve of it.
And a P.S. to everyone who says making war on Iraq will make the world safer from terrorism should know that al Qa’ida recruitment is up all over Europe, and the war hasn’t even started yet.

The aftermath of Sept. 11 and the prospect of war in Iraq have increased the numbers of angry anti-American young men who have been pushed into the embrace of Islamic extremism, according to counter-terrorism officials. Extremists are muscling into European mosques, creating new places of worship and winning converts. … A war in Iraq could turn many moderate Muslims into extremists and drive many extremists over the line between malicious intent and action, experts say.
“The strategy of the terrorists is to create a clash of civilizations,” [Jean-Louis] Bruguiere, [France’s top anti-terrorist judge] said. “And they will use the war to incite violence against the West. A war will have a direct impact on the level of recruitment.”

This is one of my main criticisms against a war with Iraq. There are much better ways of dealing with terrorism, as the arrest of Mohammed shows, than embarking on military adventures with only the most pollyanna-ish of consequences envisioned.