Islamic State social media accounts have uploaded a fatwa to the Internet calling for the death of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself politically an Islamist, for collaborating with the United States on airstrikes against the jihadist terror group.
The “death warrant” is allegedly signed by a judge of the Islamic State’s makeshift court system, Shaykh Abu Khabab al-Iraqi, and calls Erdogan an “apostate” who must be killed for working with American military units and NATO and participating in the “shedding of Muslim blood.” He is also accused of “acting in unison with Arab Alawites and Jews,” the former likely a reference to the most prominent Alawite leader in the region, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan has referred to Assad as a “terrorist” and repeatedly called for his removal from power.
The author of the fatwa appears most incensed with Erdogan’s agreement to work with NATO and the United States, calling him a “cheap doll in their hands” with little discretion as to how the Turkish military is actually being used. Erdogan is given a chance to “repent,” upon which time the fatwa will be revoked. “Anyone who has joined or supported this coalition, even if by a single word or action, is considered an apostate and should be killed. He [Erdogan] has no intercessor but to repent,” it reads. It is unclear what actions Erdogan must take as head of state for the Islamic State court to accept his “repentance.”
As with most official Islamic State documents, journalistic outlets have found no way of independently verifying the fatwa.
The Turkish government has condemned the Islamic State repeatedly in public, and in July, launched an air campaign against the terrorist group in Syria. At the time, a Turkish cleric issued a fatwa allowing the killing of members of ISIS. The airstrike campaign–though appearing to target Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) strongholds more than ISIS itself–triggered a response in the form of a video from ISIS, titled “A Message to Turkey,” in which Erdogan was labeled an “infidel” working on behalf of the “crusaders” to eradicate the terrorist group. In a subsequent message, the Islamic State called for the full conquest of Istanbul.
The acrimony towards Erdogan–whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) is widely accepted as an Islamist movement–on behalf of the Islamic State is a new development following the announcement of his new airstrikes. Throughout 2014, reports surfaced of ISIS fighters crossing the Turkish border into Syria almost freely and widely using Turkish hospitals to recover when wounded in battle. “I am sick of treating wounded ISIS militants,” a nurse in a hospital on the Syrian border told journalists anonymously in 2014. In March, reports surfaced that a senior ISIS commander had taken shelter in a Turkish hospital after being wounded by airstrikes, and the most recent (and most incendiary) rumor claimed Erdogan’s daughter was personally running an underground hospital in the service of Islamic State jihadists.
Turkey announced this weekend that its military had officially begun conducting airstrikes alongside American planes in Syria against the Islamic State, triggering the latest wave in anti-Erdogan propaganda from the jihadist outfit.