Today, (as of the moment of this writing) thirty-six people and perhaps more to come paid for Turkey’s trip with their lives– murdered by three suicide bombers reportedly carrying AK 47s and other guns. One of the ISIS killers blew themselves up in Istanbul’s international airport parking lot, and two managed to make it to the “Arrivals” hall. At least 147 people and perhaps many more have been injured and maimed.
It was obviously a planned and coordinated attack.
Graphic videos show the blasts.
Who are the killers? Kurdish separatists have used violent means in the past to demand a separate state be carved out of Turkish territory, but several indicators point to ISIS as the murderous culprit of this particular massacre.
ISIS’s war is not just with Turkey, but with the Western World. ISIS likes to target “godless” foreigners whenever it can, and the Istanbul Airport, named for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the secular founder of Turkey as a modern state, and full of foreigners, indicates that it may indeed by an ISIS operation.
Turkey is an important bridge state between Western Europe and the Middle East. It has a long and porous border with Syria. It is easy for ISIS to come and go from either side. ISIS likes to hit at tourism, at history, at great art and culture, at everything it despises about the West. And what ISIS especially despises about Turkey is not just its governmental secularism, but its special brand of Islamic practice– Sufism. Sufism, a mystical sect with ancient roots, has inspired some of the greatest poetry in the world.
ISIS wants to derail Turkey’s Western ambitions and cripple its economy, but it also wants to destroy Turkey’s Sufi embrace, as well as its tolerance for other faiths. Modern Turkey represents what is truly the best and most tolerant in mainstream Islam, and ISIS loathes Turkey for just that reason. And ISIS wants to kill as many Westerners and those who love and support the West as it can. ISIS hopes to bring Turkey, a nation that makes no bones about wanting to join the West, to its knees.
ISIS"s Istanbul ariport attack is not its first assault on Turkey.
In January 2016, Nabil Fadli, an ISIS suicide bomber who’d entered Turkey as a refugee, killed himself and ten other people, nine German tourists and a Peruvian, in Istanbul’s historic Sultanhamet Square. Sultanhamet Square is a broad expanse filled with gardens, bounded by the ancient seat of the Holy Roman Empire: The Western Hagia Sophia bursts forth in Byzantine splendor on one side, and the sublimely Eastern Blue Mosque glitters on the other. Sacred Sufi shrines– something that ISIS believes is an abomination to be wiped out– are elegantly lit in the evening. A nearby ancient Egyptian obelisk is a much-loved landmark. In the night, Sufis dance in modest family-friendly restaurants and before ancient stone walls, where people sit comfortably outside, under sheltering trees. The streets are full of strolling, laughing people from Turkey and everywhere.
Sultanhamet is ordinarily a magical place, renowned for its relative safety and friendliness to foreigners.
But not now. Not now, now that ISIS has come calling.
ISIS militants told Fadli’s family, stuck back in the ruins of Aleppo, Syria, that their son had died valiantly during a clash with Kurd fighters. But when Fadli’s family learned the truth, they publicly disowned the way Fadli died. “When we heard about the attack, we felt ashamed,” said the ISIS fighter’s father, Abdullatif Fadli.
If only more people whose children ran away to join ISIS felt the same.
Turkey has set itself apart from other states aiding terrorists. It joined the multinational Western-inspired Coalition Against the Islamic State, and in doing so, it made itself even more of an ISIS target than before.
But perhaps the two biggest reasons for ISIS targeting Turkey are these: One, Turkey has a Donald Trump-like policy of deporting and denying entry to thousands of people as an exercise of its national security; and two, Turkey allows the United States and Coalition forces to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base to strike at ISIS in Syria. Incirlik has always been a strategic jumping-off point for the U.S. military. As far back as 1960 at the height of the Cold War, Gary Powers and his infamous CIA U-2 spy plane departed from Incirlik base, entered Soviet airspace, and spied from the skies until the Russians shot it down, to enormous international fanfare and a diplomacy-wrecking show trial.
Even back then, Turkey was trying to be America’s friend.
However, ISIS itself uses Istanbul’s international airport to move its own fighters and weapons back and forth– an arrangement that perhaps was being brought to an abrupt end. Did ISIS decide to make the airport massacre a powerful dare to entice Turkey to engage the terrorist group in a full-fledged war?
Or is this just ISIS’s special, demented and heretical way of celebrating in the final days of Ramadan?
Something similar happened back in December 2014, when Turkey and the United Kingdom agreed to stop the flow of foreign fighters to Syria, and to also share intelligence. Retaliation for being chummy with the West came three weeks later when Diana Ramazanova, a beautiful, pregnant 18 year-old girl from Dagestan, a Russian Muslim region, blew herself and a Turkish policeman up with a grenade at an Istanbul police station. More might have perished, but Ramazanova’s first grenade failed to detonate, and police successfully shot her as she detonated the second. Ramazanova was an ISIS “black widow” killer, the actual widow of Abu Aluevitsj Edelbijev, a Chechen-born Norwegian citizen who’d been killed in Syria only a month earlier. Ramazanova and Edelbijev gave themselves ISIS “fighter” names: She became “Sumayrah,” and he became “Idris.”
The Romeo and Juliet of ISIS terrorists and ISIS’s hateful, hate-filled ideology that is little more than a death-cult and bears no relationship to modern Islam, except the relationship that arises between a corruptor and its victims.
ISIS struck again in late July 2015, a woman (or a man disguised as a woman) blew herself up with a cluster bomb in the Amata Cultural Center in Suruc (near the Syrian border), killing thirty and wounding over a hundred more. Here, ISIS’s targets were members of the Socialist Party university students who were announcing a planned good-will trip to reconstruct the war-torn Syrian border town of Kobani. Turkey swiftly retaliated with its first attacks on ISIS in Syria. A month later, Turkey struck ISIS again, brazenly invading Syrian airspace to do so. But ISIS struck back powerfully, killing 98 people at a lunchtime peace rally in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.
Why has ISIS not yet claimed credit for bombing Instanbul’s airport today?
Because ISIS is playing a popular terrorist game called “Make the innocents sweat.” The terrorists get more mileage these days by striking anonymously from the darkest shadows, instilling even more fear in their victims through making them wait through days of uncertainty. ISIS leaders get genuine pleasure from watching the videos detailing the chaos and panic they cause.
But they have to watch it while knowing that the United States is about to destroy them. ISIS in Aleppo is presently surrounded– showing that if the Obama Administration fails to respond to ISIS itself, it CAN respond to the threat Donald Trump presents to Hillary Clinton’s anticipated presidential coronation.
It’s Donald Trump– and the idea of a Donald Trump presidency– that is making ISIS sweat for a change.