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The ISIS Rockets “Made In Turkey”

In Iraq, near Mosul, ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. A new report has found much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey.

Confiscated ISIS chemical weapons
Confiscated ISIS chemical weapons
Tolga Tanis

ISTANBUL — The events took place after the beginning of the Mosul operation. The Iraqi military had gained control of both the Gogjali neighborhood and the town of Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, both near Mosul. The Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a British NGO researching arms in conflict zones, entered these areas alongside the military. They found terror group ISIS's weapons manufacturing facilities.

It turns out that ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. They apparently had the same standards as a country would have. Much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey — the sugar used in rocket fuel, the grade of aluminum needed for bombs, the grease to smooth guns and ammunition, the cement used for making mortar shells, the potassium nitrate manure used to make rockets.

There are two important angles here. First, CAR had published another report in February that detailed the materials used by ISIS to produce explosives. The NGO revealed that 13 Turkish companies supplied the components used by ISIS. Nine months later, CAR saw in its Mosul research that these materials remained on the ISIS supply chain. Second, CAR staff could not make any progress when they contacted the Turkish companies and government because no one shared information.

I recently met CAR executive director James Bevan to speak about the findings of his NGO's research. I asked for details about their findings of potassium nitrate to deepen my research. Why did I choose this substance? It's because all the other materials are legal in industrial production. But potassium nitrate was banned in Turkey in June because of its usage in the production of bombs. So how did it enter the ISIS supply chain?

First, I got the numbers on the packages with the logo of the Turkish company Doktor Tarsa: 18258, 21019, 18745, 100427, 12657, 120215, 11407, 240412 and 18472. Then I contacted Doktor Tarsa. It's a respected company with foreign partners and manufacturing plants in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions of Turkey. I wanted to know the name of the retail dealers the company sold the packages to. I received an answer from the communications associate at their sales department. They first wanted to know why I was asking for this information, and then told me: "I want to inform you that we can answer officially when this information is requested by an official document in writing or to share the information with the National Intelligence Organization of Turkey." I contacted the company's higher executives. This time the answer came from the company's general director Ali Behzat Özman; it was a response with accusations that advised me to contact the government of Turkey.

So, I contacted the government. I was told that related data is at the agriculture department. But the official I spoke with at the ministry told me that their database does not include the numbers on the packages. He told me they know which retail dealer gets how much but they do not keep track who the packages go to. Since the company has already stated that they would share this information only with Turkish intelligence, I had exhausted my options as a journalist.

I do not know if Turkish intelligence asked for this information or Doktor Tarsa told them. The company refused to answer that question too. I do have some data that might be useful though. The potassium nitrate manure used by ISIS to make rocket fuel in the kind of rockets that hit Kilis among other places. Ammonium nitrate manure used by ISIS directly produces explosives. Check the website of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) to see when Turkey had exported ammonium nitrate to Syria before the civil war. It was sent just twice — in 2003 and 2008. What about after the war started? "Syrian farmers' suddenly realized the importance of ammonium nitrate and started to import it from Turkey since 2013 — 1195 tons in the first year, 9542 tons in 2014 and 2576 tons in 2015. They were well-stocked before it was also banned in 2016. I thought you had the right to know this.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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