IS threatens Turkey, calls Erdogan ‘traitor’
A new Islamic State video is taking aim at Turkey, issuing a call to arms to “conquer Istanbul.”
The undated footage, labeled “A Message to Turkey,” criticizes the Turkish president as a “traitor” for opening two of the country’s air bases to a U.S.-led coalition carrying out air raids against Islamic State.
The video calls for the people to rebel against what it calls “atheists, crusaders and these infidels.” “Fight against the friends of the devil,” the speaker says in Turkish, his face fully visible in the online post attributed to the Raqqa state media office, referring to the Islamic State’s de facto capital in northern Syria.
Sitting in front of white, barren hills, the pared-down video shows a man with a gray beard holding a rifle, sitting cross-legged between two other armed men who remain silent throughout the two-and-a-half minute clip. Absent are the flashy graphics and soundtrack seen in the bloody, publicized group massacres on Libyan beaches or Syrian soil.
The video surfaced as Turkey faces a domestic political crisis following parliamentary elections in June. Lawmakers have been unable to form a coalition government and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could soon call for new elections.
The leader has come under internal and foreign scrutiny for his delayed decision to directly support anti-Islamic State attacks. Turkey began bombing the extremist group in Syria late last month.
“He made you slaves to the crusader United States and sold all of your values…,” the Islamic State speaker tells Turkish viewers. “Erdogan continues to be a lackey just to maintain his post.”
The unidentified man in the video also accuses Ankara of siding with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Free Syrian Army. Kurdish militias and Syrian rebel groups are among those fighting off IS efforts at territorial gains.
But in Turkey, opposition groups allege the government was permissive in allowing fighters and equipment to reach Islamic State positions in Syria through a porous Turkish border as part of an attempt to weaken Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on the country. The Erdogan administration has repeatedly denied the allegations.