The Islamic Great East Raiders Front (İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncıları Cephesi, IBDA-C), a militant Turkish jihadist organization that openly endorses Al Qaeda ideology, have raised alarm about the potential rise of extremism in Turkey. The group, known for its history of violence and involvement in several terrorist acts, including the 2003 bombings in Istanbul and an attack on the US Consulate General in 2008, has once again come under scrutiny for its menacing rhetoric and aggressive stance against the Jewish community and Western nations.
In response to Hamas’s recent pogrom and subsequent attacks and the ensuing conflict in Gaza, the IBDA-C openly called for a siege of military bases hosting NATO and US troops in Turkey, as well as a declaration of war against Jews. The group’s leader, Ali Osman Zor, who himself has a criminal record and a history of imprisonment, made inflammatory statements in a video interview published on the group’s platform on October 18, 2023.
Zor’s rhetoric included demands for the confiscation of Jewish assets and imprisonment of Turkish citizens endorsing Israeli views. He also advocated for Turkey to sever ties with NATO and Western nations and assume a leadership role in the formation of a coalition against Israel. Such calls for violence and aggression underscore the growing concern over the group’s radical agenda and its potential impact on the stability of the region.
According to Nordic Monitor news site, Ali Osman Zor, who has a criminal record and has previously served time for engaging in terrorist activities in a statement on October 18, 2023 said: “Jewish capital that belongs to Israel, that pours money into Israel and that controls the lifeline of the economy must be confiscated immediately”.
Furthermore, he emphasized, “Any action or utterance that lends support to Israel within the country must be deemed tantamount to endorsing terrorism. Investigations should be promptly launched into such individuals, culminating in their immediate arrest”.
Osman Zor, in his call for total war against Jews, the US, the UK and France, underscored the need for Turkey to spearhead a coalition against Israel. He advocated for a siege on all NATO bases on Turkish territory and proposed issuing a 48-hour ultimatum for their exit from these bases. Additionally, he urged the government to compel the navies of these nations to quickly depart from the eastern Mediterranean.
“We must dispense with the pretense of being a mediator as Turkey will no longer fulfill that role. Instead, Turkey must emerge as a nation that forges a [war] front against Israel and assumes a leadership position in its formation”, he further said.
“It will be officially announced that we are leaving NATO, and a 48-hour ultimatum will be issued to NATO bases, compelling them to evacuate [their troops] and depart from Turkish soil. If the situation necessitates, appeals will be made to the locals residing in the vicinity of these NATO bases, mobilizing our entire nation of 80 million people. Similar to the blockade enforced on Gaza, our citizens will surround the NATO bases, effectively blockading them. The pressure will mount on NATO bases until they comply and vacate within the specified 48-hour timeframe,” he said in articulating IBDA-C’s position.
The leader of IBDA-C also referenced statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on October 17 during a speech in Lebanon. Fidan had said, “We require new definitions. When you occupy someone’s land, confiscate their home and demolish it then displace the occupants to replace them with others, you label them ‘settlers.’ In reality, this act should be called theft, and we must acknowledge it as such”.
The IBDA-C, established in 1984 by Salih İzzet Erdiş, has propagated a radical interpretation of Islamist ideology, incorporating violence and armed struggle as legitimate means to achieve its objectives. Despite being designated as a terrorist organization, the group has reportedly experienced a resurgence under the current leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This has raised questions about the level of political support and protection extended to the group by elements within the Turkish government.
Furthermore, allegations of government funding and the integration of IBDA-C members into various governmental positions have cast a shadow over the relationship between the organization and the state. Concerns have been voiced about the group’s apparent influence within Turkish intelligence agencies and its involvement in mobilizing jihadists, both domestically and internationally.
While Turkish authorities had previously taken measures to combat the IBDA-C, the recent shift in the political landscape has led to a notable change in approach, with some key figures within law enforcement either sidelined or removed from their positions. This shift has raised concerns about the lack of robust counterterrorism efforts and the potential consequences for the security situation in Turkey and the broader region.
The resurgence of the IBDA-C and its growing influence within the Turkish government highlight the need for a comprehensive approach to tackle extremism and ensure the safety and security of all communities within the country. Addressing the underlying factors contributing to radicalization and promoting tolerance and inclusivity remain crucial in countering the spread of violent ideologies and preventing the escalation of extremist activities.