Turkey's Islamic State sleeper cells

A former lawmaker says the Islamic State has more potent live bomb capacity than the PKK through its sleeper cells in Turkey.

al-monitor An Islamic State flag flies over the custom office of Syria's Jarablus border gate as it is pictured from the Turkish town of Karkamis, in Gaziantep province, Turkey, Aug. 1, 2015.  Photo by REUTERS/Murad Sezer.

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Aug 6, 2015

Reading news reports that the mass-murdering, head-chopping Islamic State (IS) is preparing for revenge attacks and that it may well activate its sleeper cells in Turkey as live bombs, we recalled the warnings of former Nationalist Action Party deputy Sinan Ogan. In my May 19, 2014, article, I had quoted him as saying: “IS has semi-sleeping cells in Turkey. The man could be a barber, a grocer or butcher, whatever, but only until he gets a message. The minute he gets the order for an operation, he will turn into a live bomb — a terrorist.’’

In those days, similar warnings from other deputies were not taken seriously. But today, along with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) actions, there is a serious IS threat of live bombs against Turkey. This may explain why security units are on alert for those sleeper cells and police operations are continuing in all parts of the country.

Yesterday, I discussed IS sleeper cells again with Sinan Ogan, who now works full time as the chairman of the International Relations and Strategic Research Center. These are the salient points of what I learned:

The PKK is a terror organization that fires on police and soldiers, but IS has more potent live bomb capacity. We are talking of hundreds of independent cells not in touch with one another, which can be activated by instructions from Iraq or Syria. Most of these cells are not made up of people deceived [or] fooled by IS, but by people who volunteered on their own accord. On their Internet sites, they are debating who the real representative of IS is.

Until now, IS crafted an image of bearded, black-dressed, Kalashnikov-carrying types wearing sports sneakers. Don’t think that that image represents all fighting in IS ranks. Many of them are clean-shaven, normally dressed people. There are plenty of Turkish-citizen Kurds fighting in IS and Kurdish People's Protection Units ranks. There are Turks also in other organizations fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The region is becoming an arena of Turkish citizens fighting each other. This is the most dangerous aspect, because those fighting there today can tomorrow bring their war to Turkey.

There can be attacks against Turkey because of our military operations and opening of the Incirlik base to the use of coalition forces. Don’t forget. What is going to hurt IS most is not opening the bases in Turkey to US airplanes, but fully blocking IS smuggling over our borders.

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