— The Islamic State’s video producers have turned their fury on Turkey
’s president over his collaboration with the United States
and other Western powers to combat the militant group.
In a video released Monday night, an Islamic State fighter made a direct plea to Muslims in Turkey, urging them to rise up against their “infidel” president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and capture Istanbul, the country’s largest city, from those who are cooperating with the West.
The release of the seven-minute video came a few weeks after Mr. Erdogan had expanded Turkey’s commitment to help an American-led military effort to strike Islamic State targets in Syria
. The Turks are permitting the use of two air bases for American bombing missions, and they have started bombing in Syria.
The video appeared at a delicate time in domestic politics for Mr. Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party lost its parliamentary majority in a June 7 election. Efforts to form a coalition with other parties have failed.
The video was posted on Twitter by the Islamic State’s media office from its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria, and it was the first in which the militants used a Turkish speaker to address Turks directly in a filmed message.
“O people of Turkey, you must stand and fight those crusaders, atheists and tyrants who have deceived you and made you slaves to the crusaders,” an unidentified, gray-bearded man flanked by two armed militants says in the video. “You must fight them before it is too late.”
Last month, the Turkish authorities carried out house raids that led to arrests of suspected Islamic State members, including Ebu Hanzala, who is sometimes called the “spiritual leader” of the Islamic State within Turkey.
Until recently, Turkey, a NATO member and longtime American ally, had been criticized for not taking a more active role against the Islamic State. Its reluctance stemmed partly from fear of retaliation within Turkey and from across its 500-mile border with Syria, where the militants have made significant gains.
Mr. Erdogan’s government decided to move more forcefully against the Islamic State last month after a suicide bombing in the southeastern district of Suruc
that killed at least 32 people. A Turkish member of the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, was suspected of carrying out that assault.
Although the speaker in the video did not make any specific threats against Turkey, the message to Turks was to reject democracy and the Turkish government and instead support the caliphate “wherever you are and however you can.”
The message and its tone match the themes of the group’s Turkish language magazine that published its first issue, titled “The Conquest of Istanbul,” in June, calling on Turks to take back Istanbul from the “apostates,” apparently a reference to country’s political leaders.
With his efforts to establish a coalition government stalled, Mr. Erdogan is expected to call for a snap election as early as November.