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Three reasons why Turkey misunderstands ISIS

Turkey's creative conspiracy theorists cannot seem to grasp that ISIS is an extremist Islamist actor with genuinely held beliefs and self-defined goals.
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces, at a street in city of Mosul, June 12, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad ISIL fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. They continued their lightning advance on Thursday, moving into towns just an hour's drive from the capital. Picture taken June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (I

When the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured Mosul on June 10, kidnapping more than 80 Turks, Turkey woke up. The militant jihadist group, which was hardly a matter of concern in the media before this incident, became a national preoccupation. Despite this focus, however, there exists an ideological blind spot that, I believe, should be addressed to develop a more factual understanding of the world, in Turkey as well as beyond.

The blind spot is simply this: Many Turkish opinion leaders, especially those in the pro-government media, cannot accept ISIS, or its ilk, as extremist Islamist actors with genuinely held beliefs and self-defined goals. Rather they take it for granted that these terror groups are merely the pawns of a great game designed by none other than the Western powers.

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