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August 25, 2020 11:24 am

US State Department Slams Turkish President Erdogan for Hosting Hamas Terrorists

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, March 4, 2020. Photo: Turkish Presidential Press Office / Handout via Reuters.

The US State Department slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for his meeting last weekend with two leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas — one of whom is the subject of a $5 million bounty for his part in the murder of an American-Jewish teenager.

“The United States strongly objects to Turkish President Erdogan hosting two Hamas leaders in Istanbul on August 22,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the US and EU and both officials hosted by President Erdogan are Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”

Ortagus highlighted the presence in Ankara of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri.

It was Arouri who announced Hamas’s responsibility for the June 12, 2014, terrorist abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, including dual US-Israeli citizen Naftali Fraenkel, praising the atrocity as a “heroic operation.”

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Ortagus said the US government’s Rewards for Justice program — which is offering a $5 million reward for Arouri’s capture — was seeking further information about his participation in “multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings.”

Ortagus made clear that the State Department would keep monitoring Erdogan’s interactions with Hamas leaders with concern.

“President Erdogan’s continued outreach to this terrorist organization only serves to isolate Turkey from the international community, harms the interests of the Palestinian people, and undercuts global efforts to prevent terrorist attacks launched from Gaza,” she said. “We continue to raise our concerns about the Turkish government’s relationship with Hamas at the highest levels. This is the second time President Erdogan has welcomed Hamas leadership to Turkey this year with the first meeting occurring February 1.”

The State Department’s official condemnation of Erdogan came one day after President Donald Trump briefly discussed his positive personal relationship with the Turkish leader at the Republican National Convention.

During a conversation with  Andrew Brunson — the American pastor imprisoned in Turkey during a brutal purge in 2016 and released two years later —  Trump was careful not to criticize Erdogan.

After Brunson thanked Trump for helping to secure his release, the president emphasized, “To me, President Erdogan was very good.”

“Ultimately, after we had a few conversations, he agreed, so we appreciate that,” Trump said.

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