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Lessons from Turkey’s Al Qaeda Magazine

İslam Dünyası or “Islamic World” is the Turkish language edition of Al Qaeda’s magazine. I had previously referenced it here when, late last year, the magazine called for attacks on the United States. The latest edition is now available, at least in Jihadi chat rooms. What is most interesting is that it provides biographies for three slain Turkish fighters, two of whom were killed fighting against NATO in Afghanistan, and the third of whom was killed fighting for radicals in Syria.

According to SITE monitoring, which translated the biographies, one of the three grew up in Istanbul, and two grew up in Ankara. All were from poor families and began taking Islam classes in Turkey.

The reason why this is important is simple: The Turkish government has long acknowledged that Turks were active in Al Qaeda and its affiliates (under the group Taifetul Mansura), but always claimed that Turkish Jihadists were Diaspora Turks radicalized in Germany. Now it looks like this isn’t the case, and the real problem is in Turkey itself.

Here, the Turkish government is culpable: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has revised his predecessors’ regulations that had regulated Koran schools to prevent radical cleric from leading them and had also placed minimum age and maximum time limitations on the supplemental schools. Back in 2005 and 2006, Erdoğan’s hostility toward any regulation checking the promulgation of religious incitement or radicalism had grown so great that illegal Koran schools advertised openly in Turkey’s Islamist newspapers.

The question for Turkish policymakers—and a question members of the Congressional Turkish Caucus should put forward to Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States is this: Regardless of past blame, now that Al Qaeda is openly acknowledging that terrorists are being indoctrinated and recruited inside Turkey and not abroad, what steps is Turkey taking to rectify the situation?

Alas, I suspect the answer is hiçbiri, none.



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