TEL AVIV – The wave of terror attacks in Turkey is likely to escalate because, as a moderate Muslim country, it represents a threat to jihadi groups, Boaz Ganor, the founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) said on Wednesday.
“The motivation for IS to attack Turkey is two-fold – one is on the operational level in that it’s easy to carry out attacks there because it’s a large country with a long, porous border with Syria where there are large amounts of foreign fighters and weapons moving, and there are also sleeper cells in towns and villages all over the country. So the ease itself becomes a motivator for attacks,” the Jerusalem Post cited Ganor as saying.
Repeating his words to a group of Turkish military commanders and politicians from a decade ago, Ganor said Turkey, and not the U.S. or Israel, is the greatest threat to terrorist groups.
“Turkey shows that you can be pious Muslims and also open to the West and be a part of NATO and have moderate policies. This was the biggest threat to global terror, and that was true for al-Qaida and for ISIS. These terror attacks are very specifically against the idea of a Muslim alternative [to radical Islam].”
Ganor said that the possibility that the rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara motivated the attack is “on the margins of the margins.” Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish and Israeli officials inked a reconciliation deal. In the aftermath of the attack which killed at least 38 people and wounded more than 140, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suggested that the motivation may have been related to Ankara’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Jerusalem.
However, Ganor casts doubt on the idea, asserting that the attack likely took months of planning.
A more likely scenario, according to Yoram Schweitzer, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, is that all the attacks in Turkey over the past year are the result of “dangerous policies” by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the Turkish-Syria border.
“It’s obvious that the Turkish game of allowing Turkey to be a transit country for IS volunteers and fighters going to Syria would boomerang against them,” Schweitzer, who is also the head of the institute’s program on terrorism and low intensity conflict, said.
“According to the worldview of IS, Erdogan and his countrymen are infidels. They don’t subscribe to the worldview of ISIS and it was obvious that eventually they would target Turkey,” he added.
IS sees the Turks as Muslim infidels who made a deal with the devil when they joined international efforts against the terror group.
Schweitzer agreed with Ganor over the likelihood that attacks in Turkey will rise. He added that the Islamic State is in all probability planning more frequent attacks in the West as well and that the international community needs to pull together to combat the radical Islamist group and prevent them from capturing more territory in Syria and Iraq.