ISIL and al-Qaeda booksellers are thriving in Erdoğan’s Turkey
By Abdullah Bozkurt
An al-Qaeda-linked bookstore owner in Istanbul who has been selling jihadist books to Turks continues to operate without many obstacles despite a clear pattern of radicalization among Turks who derive guidance from the poisonous literature, including a police officer who assassinated Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara in December 2016.
The bookstore proprietor is not the only one who promotes radical and violent views through literature in Turkey, however.
Osman Akyıldız, a known figure among radical groups, was in fact investigated on charges of terrorism with respect to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But just like many jihadist cases in Turkey, he was quickly released thanks to the political cover provided by the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Akyıldız was detained on Feb. 26, 2013 and formally arrested two days later by the court as part of a criminal investigation into a network that smuggled jihadist fighters into Syria. He was again detained on July 24, 2015 but was let go despite the fact that he had been openly supporting armed jihad and promoting al-Qaeda in his writings.
Akyıldız, who knows Arabic and translated many jihadist books from Arabic to Turkish, runs a publishing house called Küresel Kitap and owns religious magazine İslâm Dünyası Dergisi. Akyıldız’s name came up during an investigation into the connections of Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the 22-year-old police officer who gunned down Russian Ambassador Karlov on Dec. 19, 2016. It turned out the reclusive police officer was radicalized after he started attending lectures of jihadist clerics close to the Erdoğan government and taught himself al-Qaeda ideology by purchasing books from Akyıldız and others. The details of financial transactions and wire transfers that were examined by the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) show the assassin sent money to Akyıldız’s account on Oct. 14, 2015 in the amount of TL 59.75.
Akyıldız was questioned as a witness about this transaction and told the prosecutor that the police officer ordered four books, including “Hattabın Anıları” (Memories of al-Khattab), a book written by Jordanian jihadist Amir ibn al-Khattab (whose real name is Samir bin Salih bin Abdullah al-Suwaylim). Al-Khattab was born in Saudi Arabia and promoted jihad in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Dagestan and finally in Chechnya, where he fought against the Russians and was killed. Khattab’s role in and influence on global jihad is huge, and his memory served to radicalize many after his death including the Turkish police officer who gunned down the Russian diplomat in Ankara.
Another book sold to the killer by Akyıldız was titled “Allah İslama Zafer Hazırlıyor” (Allah Is Preparing Us for Victory), written by Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) cleric who espoused individual jihad. It is no coincidence that al-Awlaki was among jihadist clerics who influenced Damon M. Joseph, an American citizen who was arrested in Ohio in December 2018 for allegedly planning to open fire on a synagogue in Toledo. Moreover, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who killed 14 people in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015 had studied Awlaki’s teachings just like Omar Mateen, who massacred 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2015. Ahmad Khan Rahami, who placed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at locations in New York and New Jersey in September 2016, also referenced Awlaki, among others, as an ideological guide in his notebook.
The Turkish al-Qaeda hitman also ordered a book titled “Siyonizm İdeali Peşinde Koşan Bir Hahambaşı: Haim Nahum” (A Chief Rabbi who chased Zionist Idealism: Haim [Chaim] Nahum) by Hüseyin Serkan Elönü, an anti-Semitic Turkish Islamist writer. The book talks about the last chief rabbi of the Ottoman Empire and blames the rabbi for sowing hostile sentiments between Turks and Arabs. Other books provided by the bookseller were the translated works of Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, who was the lead theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood and whose teaching inspired radical views among Muslims.
Source: Turkish Minute