The New New Jihadist Thing
Meeting the ISIS Challenge
The Myth of the Caliphate
The Political History of an Idea
Collateral Damage in Iraq
The Rise of ISIS and the Fall of al Qaeda
State of Confusion
ISIS' Strategy and How to Counter It
The Women of ISIS
Understanding and Combating Female Extremism
Syria's Democracy Jihad
Why ISIS Fighters Support the Vote
How ISIS Makes Bank
ISIS Sends a Message
What Gestures Say About Today’s Middle East
Syria and the Violence in Iraq
Why Turkish Citizens are Joining ISIS
Turkey's Kurdish Buffer
Why Erdogan Is Ready to Work With the Kurds
ISIS Enters Egypt
How Washington Must Respond
ISIS' Next Prize
Will Libya Join the Terrorist Group's Caliphate?
Crime and Punishment in Jordan
The Killing of Moath al-Kasasbeh and the Future of the War Against ISIS
This is What Détente Looks Like
The United States and Iran Join Forces Against ISIS
ISIS Goes to Asia
Extremism in the Middle East Isn't Only Spreading West
Measuring the Threat from Returning Jihadists
Don't Hype the Threat of Returning Jihadists
ISIS' Gruesome Gamble
Why the Group Wants a Confrontation with the United States
ISIS' Worst Nightmare
Why the Group Is Not Trying to Provoke a U.S. Attack
Staying Out of Syria
Why the United States Shouldn't Enter the Civil War—But Why It Might Anyway
The Hollow Coalition
Washington's Timid European Allies
Hammer and Anvil
How to Defeat ISIS
ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group
Why Counterterrorism Won’t Stop the Latest Jihadist Threat
ISIS on the Run
The Terrorist Group Struggles to Hold On
Ready for War With ISIS?
Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In
The past few weeks have seen a wave of Muslims from all around the world joining the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Although most of the attention has been on those coming from the United States and Europe, the bulk of foreign fighters has actually come from Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey.
The flow of jihadists from Turkey is particularly puzzling. For one, in the past, Turkish citizens have not joined jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in large numbers. In addition, ISIS advances in Iraq and Syria have come at a high cost to the Turkish people. During the assault on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in October, for example, Turkish Kurds took to the street in large numbers, protesting Ankara’s inaction. Riots left around 50 people dead. More than a thousand buildings, including schools, banks, health centers, and administrative offices, were burned to the ground. Business confidence in the Kurdish provinces was severely undermined. Finally, the appeal of radicalism is hard to square with Turkey’s image as a role model of Muslim democracy. The country has a history of electoral democracy going back to 1950, longer than any other Muslim-majority nation in the world, and has been ruled by a moderate Islamist party since 2002. Theorists have long posited that Islamist political participation would diminish radicalism as Islamists become stakeholders in the existing system.
In fact, radicalization in Turkey is peculiarly suited to the evolution in recent years of the country’s civil society and political institutions under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)—and, in turn, the types of Turks who have been caught up in the jihadist net make for unusual recruits.
According to recent reports, around 1,000 Turkish citizens have joined ISIS and several hundred have joined Jabhat al Nusra, the al Qaeda branch in Syria. These numbers likely underestimate the real scope of jihadist mobilization in Turkey, owing to the weak patrolling along the Turkish-Syrian border.
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