Drug Cartel vs. ISIS: 2 Killed in Gunfight at Alleged Islamist Recruiters’ HQ

Cihan News Agency

A mysterious gun attack at the headquarters of the Ayışığı (Moonlight) Association in Turkey has left two dead, with law enforcement and local sources claiming the violence is a result of tensions between the Ayışığı group, accused of terrorist recruiting, and a local drug cartel whose members claim the group attacked for selling drugs to minors.

A group of men stormed the headquarters of the Moonlight Association for Orphans on April 13, shooting indiscriminately at those inside. Two were killed, five injured, and eight arrested, including one minor, for the incident.

The Turkish daily Zaman reports that eyewitnesses have claimed members of Moonlight had publicly argued with members of the attacking group — which was not named, but identified by multiple media sources as a “drug cartel” — earlier in the day, leading law enforcement to believe the shooting was retribution for meddling in their business. Zaman notes that “hundreds” of bullet casings were found on the scene.

While Zaman described the earlier dispute as an incident in which “people from the foundation yelled at a group of youngsters sitting in front of the building,” the newspaper Hurriyet claims Moonlight Association individuals had begun the fight when encountering drug cartel members attempting to sell drugs to the children they mentor. While noting that initial reports claimed the gunfight was a new episode in “an existing hostility,” Hurriyet reports that members of Moonlight claim the earlier fight begun when “the cartel had sold drugs to two children earlier in the day.”

A third violent incident occurred following the gunfight. As relatives of those slain and injured arrived at the hospital, a large violent confrontation occurred at the hospital itself between the rival groups. Police arrested 24 people in the aftermath of that incident.

Hurriyet reports that Moonlight, while ostensibly serving the community as a youth aid association for orphans, has been repeatedly accused of indoctrinating minors with radical Islamist propaganda and even recruiting some of its members to fight for the Islamic State. “Locals have accused the organization of recruiting ISIL militants and some detainees claimed the association indoctrinated children with radical Islamist views,” the newspaper reports.

Citing the Turkish-language Daily Vatan publication, Hurriyet adds that the newspaper reported two days later that, “considering its radical activities, anti-terror police have launched a probe into the association’s possible links to a magazine, which was recently attacked.” Adımlar, a pro-Islamist magazine, was attacked with a bomb in March following their demands for the Turkish government to release Islamist terrorists associated with the Islamic Great East Raiders Front (IBDA-C) terror group.

Owners of the magazine, naturally, blamed “the CIA and the Mossad” for the attack on Facebook, though authorities at the time claimed a much likelier suspect was the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a rival Marxist terror group most recently responsible for the assassination of a prominent Turkish prosecutor. The DHKP-C has not taken responsibility for the bombing, however, possibly leading authorities to investigate other potential suspects such as drug cartels whose business is negatively impacted by radical Islamism. Sharia law strictly prohibits drug use, though captured Islamic State terrorists have testified that they were given hallucinogens before going into battle.