Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on Wednesday that 74,000 aspiring Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants have been deported from Turkey.
Speaking to CNNTürk, Kaynak said that 74,000 people of various nationalities who entered Turkey en route to ISIL in Syria and Iraq have been deported so far. Kaynak added that sympathizers from 110 countries, mostly Western, are joining ISIL and said it would be inaccurate to associate ISIL with religion.
In an alarming statement, Kaynak also noted that he did not know the exact number of ISIL sleeper cells inside Turkey. However, he argued that ISIL militants “infiltrate” from the cantons of the Syrian wing of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey has long been criticized for overlooking the ISIL threat by allowing radical fighters into Syria to ease the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Western media outlets ran several stories labeling Turkey a “jihadist highway,” a claim denied by Turkey.