The Islamic State (ISIS) planned to assassinate Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and the leader of the main opposition Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Tuesday.
The report refers to the confessions of the group’s Turkey ‘governor’ Kasım Güler, codename ‘Abu Osama al Turki’, who has been indicted by an Ankara prosecutor. The 74-page long confessions detail the activities of ISIS in Turkey.
According to Güler, ISIS had plans to assassinate two of the most important figures of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP): Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chair of the party, and Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul and a recently rising political figure who is believed to have the capability to influence voters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Güler also claimed in his confessions that orther potential targets included the United States airbase in İncirlik, Adana, an Alevi religious centre in the Turkish capital of Ankara and a LGBTi community in the western city of Izmir.
Güler was captured on the Syrian border while he was trying to cross into Turkey with weapons and ammunition in June 2021. His trial will take place in Ankara.
Güler’s trial is likely to trigger a new wave of criticism of Turkish government’s tolerance towards ISIS affiliates.
In September 2021, an ISIS ‘judge’, Jamal Abdul Rahman Alwi was spotted in the southern city of Antep, running a pet shop. Alwi had allegedly issued a ‘fatwa’ to burn two Turkish soldiers to death in Syria back in 2016. He was arrested and charged with ISIS membership in 2020 in Turkey, but was released after a detention of only nine months.
The fact that the highest-ranking ISIS members like ‘the provincial governor in Turkey’ and the ‘judge’ could live freely on Turkish soil may in fact lead to the conclusion that Turkey then might as well be home to thousands of lower rank ISIS members, within the knowledge of Turkish authorities and intelligence services.
Turkish authorities are alleged to have prior knowledge of the Diyarbakır, Suruç and Ankara bombings by ISIS in 2015, all targeting the Kurdish political movement and its political allies, killing 148 and injuring several hundred.