The Times UK published a report on Thursday citing western intelligence services who claimed that the terrorist organization Hamas established headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey for carrying out cyber warfare and counter-intelligence operations. Hamas has offices in Istanbul for funding and coordination but the new section, established about two years ago without the knowledge of the Turkish government, is separate. The unit is directed by Hamas’s military leadership in Gaza and its operations are directed by senior Hamas member Samakh Saraj, who acts under the supervision of the organization’s leader Yahya Sinwar.
The report said the activities of the Hamas division in Turkey included obtaining “dual-use” equipment for producing weapons, organizing cyberattacks, and conducting counter, intelligence operations against its own members suspected of disloyalty.
In August, Israel’s embassy in Ankara confirmed reports that Turkey was granting citizenship to a dozen high-ranking Hamas members involved in coordinating terror attacks.
Turkey has political relations with Hamas which it perceives as a legitimate political movement. Both Hamas and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party have close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Though Israel and Turkey have had official relations since 1949 and Turkey was the first Muslim majority nation to recognize the Jewish state, since the 2010s, relations between Turkey and Israel have become increasingly deteriorated.