Erdogan meets with Hamas leaders despite $5 mln US bounties, terror designations

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met on Saturday with a large delegation of Hamas leadership, including the extremist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh and deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, both of whom have a $5 mln bounty on their heads after being designated as terrorists by the US.

Erdogan also received the chairman of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh alongside the accompanying delegation at Istanbul's Vahdettin Palace, according to state broadcaster TRT.


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The meeting took place behind closed doors in the presence of the head of the Turkish intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, the presidential communications officer, Fahrettin Altun and the presidential palace spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin.

The US State Department had designated Haniyeh, leader of the extremist Palestinian group Hamas, as a terrorist in 2018. Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, advocates Israel’s destruction and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and some other Western countries.

More than a week ago, a report by the Telegraph confirmed Turkey had granted senior operatives within a Hamas militant cell with citizenship. The Telegraph said it had seen papers that showed at least one of the 12 senior Hamas members in Turkey had received Turkish citizenship and an identity number.

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