Few Westerners have paid much attention until now, but the Islamic State has put the people and leaders of Turkey — and particularly Istanbul, which for centuries served as the seat of the Islamic kingdom or “Caliphate” — in its crosshairs.
- On August 9, 2015, the Islamic State put a photograph of Turkish President Recip Erdogan on the cover of Issue #11 of its recruiting magazine, Dabiq, putting the Turkish leader on notice that he is being targeted by the jihadist movement. In one of the articles, ISIS denounced “the apostate regime and army of Turkey.” The editors then added: “We ask Allah to support the mujahedeen [fighters of jihad] of the Islamic State against the agents of [the infidels] until the banner of the Caliphate is raised high above Istanbul….”
- Also last August, ISIS released a video calling on Muslims to “revolt” against Erdogan. In the video, an unidentified speaker says that Erdogan “did not rule by the laws of God. He befriended Americans, Jews, crusaders, atheist PKK members, Atatürk’s secular friends, the FSA and the apostate spies of the (Saudi Arabian) Saud family.”
These two threats echoed a video ISIS released in the fall of 2014 vowing to “conquer” Turkey and declaring to Erdogan, “Be prepared for the good news, for the time for your rule to end is getting close at the hands of the state of the caliphate.”
Ironically, Erdogan (pronounced “AIR-do-wan”) is an increasingly dangerous and authoritarian Islamist himself, and a rising threat to the West, as I noted in a column last month. He is cracking down on journalists who criticize him. He’s building close ties with the terrorist leaders of Iran. He provides safe haven for Hamas terror leaders. He has also been allowing foreign fighters to cross through Turkey for years to join ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq and, for the most part, turning a blind eye to their presence.
These are some of reasons Turkey plays a key role in my new novel series, including a terrorist bombing in the heart of Istanbul in The Third Target.
But as a member of NATO, a long-time ally of the U.S., and a cooperating partner in the European Union economy, Erdogan isn’t nearly Radical enough for the leaders of ISIS. Nor does Erdogan share the fanatic End Times theology driving the leaders of ISIS.
What’s more, Turkey has diplomatic ties with the State of Israel, and has actually been working on improving those ties in recent months. Notably, yesterday’s savage terror attacks at Istanbul’s main international airport came on the same day that Turkey and Israel announced the normalization of diplomatic relations after six years of strains.
In recent months, therefore, ISIS is believed to have been responsible for planning a series of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, though some (fortunately) have been foiled. Last October, 128 people were killed in suicide bombings in Istanbul. Turkish officials said they believed ISIS was responsible.
And earlier this year:
- A suicide bomber killed four people in Istanbul and wounded 36. The Turkish Interior Minister said the evidence pointed to ISIS.
- The Turkish government warned Christians and Jews of coming attacks in Turkey.
- The Israeli government warned its citizens to leave Turkey immediately.
- The US government warned of a “credible threat” to tourists in Istanbul and Turkey’s coastal resort city of Antalya.
- The Turkish government arrested several suspects and say they foiled a New Year’s Eve terror plot against the capital city of Ankara.
Now Turkey’s new Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, is telling reporters that all signs point to ISIS being responsible for these latest attacks in Istanbul.
So far, however, ISIS has not formally claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, the death toll keeps climbing. As of 5pm local time on Wednesday, there were 41 confirmed deaths, as well as at least 239 people wounded. Also dead are the three terrorists involved in the operation, two of whom detonated suicide bombing vests after opening fire with automatic weapons.
Please pray for Turkey.
- Pray for the Lord to comfort & heal all those injured in & traumatized by the attacks.
- Pray for the Lord to comfort the families and friends of all those who were killed.
- Pray for Turkish authorities to get serious in defeating ISIS and protecting their people — and foreign guests, businesspeople, tourists, etc — rather than allowing ISIS fighters to transit the country with a free hand.
- Pray for the Church in Turkey to be bold, loving, compassionate servants to the Turkish people.
- Pray for the Gospel to be proclaimed to every person in Turkey that they may find the hope, peace, healing, comfort, forgiveness and eternal life only available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Order The First Hostage today — the new political thriller about ISIS plotting a terrorist attacks against Israel, Jordan and the United States — available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats.
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- Order THE THIRD TARGET today , the first in this new series — now out in paperback — the New York Times best-selling novel about ISIS capturing chemical weapons in Syria and plotting genocidal attacks on the U.S. and our Mideast allies.
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