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BEYOND the CALIPHATE

TURKEY
Islamic State Activity Outside the Group's Defined Wilayat

THE COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER is an independent, privately funded, research and educational institution
situated at West Point that contributes to the academic body of knowledge and informs counterterrorism policy and strategy.

and in eastern Turkey. or law en- areas and along major travel routes. travel routes. THE ISLAMIC STATE’S TWO-PRONGED ASSAULT ON TURKEY “O muwahhidin! Turkey today has become a target for your operations and priority for your jihad. November 2. and the most lethal event hap- Islamic State if a variety of government and media sources pened in Ankara. and add it to the scorching zones of your combat. is any type of support an individual expresses toward the Islamic State that ends in an arrest. Where there was a high concentration of events. geo-coordinates were dispersed so all would be visible. two days after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi instructed his followers to conduct oper. 5. the Islamic State did not claim any event in Turkey until November 2016. • The majority of attacks in major cities were conducted using explosive devices primarily delivered The following analysis employs an open source dataset by suicidal means. Support. Ankara (14%). 2016.Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Baghdadi1 by M arielle N ess On November 4. the Islamic State claimed its first major cities and along the country’s southern border attack in Turkey. so seek Allah’s assistance and attack it. as defined in this study. 4. while six attacks (26%) occurred around Istanbul. Only seven events did not have corresponding geo-coordinates and were. 1) illustrates. therefore. asserted the Islamic State was responsible or was the in- spiration for an event. Combating Terrorism Center research. reinforcing Islamic State links to those locales. plots were also disrupted in Adana. low-security in Turkey from June 2014 through January 2017. Al-Baghdadi speech. Plots4 were also concentrated in Istanbul (32%). • Islamic State activity in Turkey is clustered around ations against Turkey. Islamic State for the group. Attacks ers have coded events as being linked to or inspired by the also occurred in Izmir. Konya. Over 80% of all Islamic State arrests for support activity in Turkey was related to individuals attempting to travel to or return from Islamic State territory. Support activity data paints a similar picture border region. specifically targeting Kilis and Gaziantep. 2. page 6. facilitation of travel. 16 attacks (70%) occurred in the certain cities. The geographic visualization of Islamic State activity in Turkey was constructed using geo-coordinates of events from the dataset. As the map3 (Fig. while the plurality of attacks on the southern border utilized rockets. the Islamic State has some level of reach— activity occurred primarily in more densely populated inspirational or otherwise—into these areas. excluded from the visualization. In the subsequent days. and population density. and on KEY FINDINGS November 6. likely due to proximity. Turn their security into panic and their prosperity into dread. government blamed Kurdish terrorist groups. This diver- events of arrests for support activity for the Islamic State gence indicates that these regions could be focus areas in Turkey. Data corresponds with the location of the intended target of the plot. 28 plots. of directly linked and conceptually inspired Islamic State attacks. virtual support. including but not limited to recruitment. monetary or material support. or personnel support. the Turkish with Syria. plots. Over the dataset’s forcement is better equipped to manage the threat in 31-month time period. and along Turkey’s southern border (25%). the event marked a distinct divergence from the Islamic State’s previous policy in its approach to Turkey. the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed • The majority of Islamic State-linked attacks and plots responsibility for the attack. Geographic Overview However.5 1. and arrests in support2 of the organization • The Islamic State tends to attack soft. 2016. If individuals were arrested at a different locale.” . Since targets in Turkish cities. 3. and 100 Kahramanmaras. reports. 1 . Despite these conflicting in Turkey had some (formal or informal) connection back to the group in Syria and Iraq. The dataset consists of 23 attacks. they were coded as previous support personnel.

swisstopo.Fig. Getmapping. CYPRUS Operational Dynamics C onnections to I slamic S tate C entral : The over- whelming majority of attacks and plots in Turkey during Fig. n=23. 1 Map of Islamic State Activity in Turkey JUNE 2014–JANUARY 2017 ISTANBUL Attack High� Population� Provinces� � (2014) KOCAELI Plot 1�to�2�million Support 2 �million �or �more ANKARA Km 0 110 220 330 BINGOL IZMIR KONYA DIYARBAKIR KAHRAMANMARAS GAZIANTEP ŞANLIURFA ADANA ANTALYA KILIS Designed by Larisa Baste and Mapped by Brandon Mohr for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Similarly. IEDs. including but not limited to suicide vests. The data indicates that the disbanding of one cell does not necessarily lead to INDIRECT FIRE the disruption of another cell by Turkish law enforcement. USDA. suicide vehicles. all EXPLOSIVE DEVICE 39% were either directed by the organization or there was ev- idence that operatives were in direct contact with Islamic State personnel. DigitalGlobe. Combating Terrorism Center 2 . Service Layer Credits: Source: Esri. What is not evident in the data is the relationship between the various Islamic State-linked operational cells in Turkey. CNES/Airbus DS. Earthstar Geographics. Except for one plot and one attack. the number of attacks carried out for were delivered using either a suicide vest or vehicle. Aerogrid. and grenades. 2 Weapons Used in Islamic State Attacks the 31-month time frame were linked to the central or- ganization of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Explosive device is defined as anything that combusts. IGP. nine (39%) attacks used explosive devices and six of those For Figures 2 and 3. as 4% a weapon for attacks in Turkey. which target and weapons were identified. Of the 23 attacks. WEAPON 30% Weapons: The Islamic State relies heavily on explosive EDGED WEAPON devices. This finding can primarily be explained by Turkey’s close proximity to Islamic State territory and that Turkey has been the primary means of entry for emigrants and foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq. USGS. GeoEye. AEX. whether formal or informal.6 primarily delivered through suicidal means. of the 28 plots. 11 (39%) involved individuals 6. and the GIS User Community. IGN.

8. Aaron Stein. 1. on the other hand. 11. “New info on ISIS role in deadly Istanbul New Year’s attack. the data illustrates cide bombs is not novel.” Associated Press. (2) the suicide attack rockets used to target Kilis. but they are less ac- City of Kilis 35% curate than artillery.11 He was instructed by his handler to find a marily relied on Katyusha rockets for indirect fire weapon new target. the New Year’s Eve nightclub killing 55 individuals. For the last quarter of a century.e.” in Ami Pedahzur ed. Abdulkadir Masharipov. machine gun. 12. or inghimasi. 3 Target of Islamic State Attacks in Turkey weapon system rather than artillery because they can set up numerous rockets on stands to fire simultaneously 3 OUT OF 5 ATTACKS without an individual present to operate them. with 45 deaths. direct ties to the group—that the group is flexible and re- After explosive devices. Other main categories of attack targets—each at 13% of the total number—were planning to use explosive devices. and the military.10 Insurgents and terrorists tend to resort to this which he had passed earlier that evening. 2017. that border towns and soft targets was a key Islamic terror organizations’ reliance on suicidal means of deliv. Of the 23 attacks. Indirect fire weapons are defined in this study as rocket artillery and mortars. Root Causes of Suicide Terrorism: The Globalization of Martyrdom (New York: Routledge. “Introduction: Characteristics of Suicide Attacks. requires a crew of operators constantly firing the gun to hit the Journalists target. As a whole. as the combination of the ery has “proven to be one of the most efficient and least group’s indirect fire attacks against the border out- expensive tactics ever deployed. handguns.Fig. and wed- to deliver the weapon using suicide vests. journalists. The Islamic State has pri. these weapons devastate a target and leave the other party with no target upon which to return fire. 2016. State targeting priority. it is difficult to identify trends in Islamic State targets in Turkey. Anecdotal evidence tied to on a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep on August 20. but May 2016 in Kilis and resulted in a casualty rate of less due to an increase in security at that location. “ISIS and Turkey: The Rocket Threat to Kilis. the data indicates the Islamic State targets a va- Other 13% riety of sectors and individuals. Katyusha targeted border towns & soft targets rockets have a maximum range of roughly 30 kilometers and offer quick effects on the target. youth activist meeting. 2016. and the media account for 61% of all incidents. 2015. 35% targeted the city center of Kilis. A suicide fighter. p. 3 . with 103 deaths. pistols). not appear to be a distinct difference in weapon choice between attacks and plots. 10. suicide attacks are the most lethal. Ibid. Events 13% T argets : Due to the small sample size of attacks and the group’s use of indirect fire weapons (which often do Police and Military 26% not have a precise or disclosed target). or crew served (e. Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger. There does ding). January 18. also suggests—at least for those operatives with on the Istanbul Airport on June 28. Use of Katyusha rockets is a classic insurgent tac- and Media 13% tic. Although based on a small sample. 2006). As has been widely reported. 9. Artillery. and ultimately selected the Reina nightclub.g.12 7. Masharipov orig- Turkey (30%). journalists and media. attacks. shoulder-fired rocket/RPG..” Atlantic Council. April 26. peace rally. These pears to be no relationship between the chosen target include (1) the suicide attack on a peace rally in Ankara on and type of weapon employed other than the Katyusha October 10. medium/heavy machine guns). ed the plan. 10 of which planned events (i. The group’s reliance on sui. AK47.”7 post of Kilis and its attacks on events. Direct fire weapons are defined as small arms (e.g. and (3) the suicide fighter8 attack attacker. is an individual who conducts an operation without the expectation of survival. indirect fire weapons9 are the sponsive to on-the-ground conditions when it comes to second most utilized weapon in Islamic State attacks in targets. 2016. There ap- In this dataset. he abort- than five causalities per attack. The majority of these attacks occurred in inally planned to attack Taksim Square in Istanbul.

Yayla. with the last completed attack in early Oc- with Syria and the month leading up to and the month of tober 2016.” Chicago Tribune.15 Fig. or the Department of Defense. however. the largest num.g. The event. law enforcement in recent weeks has increased enforcement increasing security for high-profile events raids. lation to the group’s activity surrounding border towns. there appears Turkish military forces have pushed the Islamic State to be a relationship between major events and arrests for farther into Syria. This is specifically illustrated in use indirect fire weapons (e. necessary to counter this threat. Conclusion tacks. Combating Terrorism Center 4 . During 2015. “Islamic State suspects detained in Turkey raids rises to nearly 750. and support activity from June 2014 through The data presented here illustrates the varied and dy- January 2017 and denotes significant events that occurred namic threat posed by the Islamic State in Turkey. personnel with some media sources reporting up to 750 ber of Islamic State plots disrupted in a month by Turkish arrests. Katyusha rockets) against April 2015 when Turkey closed official border crossings13 the country. February 6. does mark a distinct Turkish policy change and is reflected in the data. recent investigations have highlight- authorities (four plots) took place in September 2016. 2017. In re- during this time period. greatly limiting its ability to accurately Islamic State support. as illustrated by the timeline. arresting hundreds of Islamic State supporters and and after policy changes. This alludes to law cities. Despite this initial closing of official border crossings. 14. Regarding the group’s operations in major the G20 Summit (November 2015).T iming C onsiderations : The timeline below charts at. 10 March 2017. Furthermore. “The Reina Nightclub Attack and the Islamic State Threat to Turkey. the Department of the Army.” CTC Sentinel.14 However. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the position of the United States Military Academy. the border was not completely shut and migration and foreign fighter flows contin- ued over the time frame of this study. Ahmet S. 4 Timeline of Islamic State Activity in Turkey JUNE 2014–JANUARY 2017 Number of events June January 2014 2017 Islamic State Activity Support Plot Attack 13. plots. 15. month after Turkey’s invasion into northern Syria. one ed the extent of the Islamic State’s network in Turkey. Three and increased military and law enforcement pressure is of these four plots targeted Istanbul.