MW/TKD: Islamic State Khurasan (ISKP) Continues to Vilify Turkey’s Role in the Middle East and Afghanistan
In early December, Turkey announced the arrest of two Islamic State (IS) militants accused of plotting an attack inside the country on New Year’s Eve. The detained persons are said to be foreigners from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who have links to IS’s Khorasan branch and were caught after trying to flee from police in Istanbul. The Tajik, Abu Maimun, is described as an improvised explosives expert, trainer of jihadists in battlefield tactics, and producer of propaganda for social media. Turkish authorities claim the plot was modeled after the January 1, 2017 nightclub shooting in Istanbul. Notably, the perpetrator of the said attack, Abdulkadir Masharipov, was also of Central Asian descent — an Uzbek national — while another suspect deemed complicit was later arrested in Kyrgyzstan.
In the months prior to the most recent arrests, additional signs of apparent linkages between the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and IS networks in Turkey have emerged involving recruitment, logistics, and fundraising. In August, the Afghan Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) said it apprehended an ISKP operative overseeing fundraising, weapons procurement, and facilitating the travel of fighters, including the route from Turkey to Iran. These connections appear to be stronger in the domain of propaganda activities targeting Turkey with the pro-Islamic State Turkish language media foundation Meydan Medya frequently featured on pro-ISKP channels. More specifically, ISKP channels in the Uzbek language regularly upload publications and audio statements from Meydan Medya highlighting how ISKP mouthpiece Al-Azaim is serving as a platform for amplifying propaganda in the Turkish language or more often in the Uzbek language directed against the Turkish state. At the same time, Meydan Medya channels share ISKP magazines like the Voice of Khorasan, Khorasan Ghag, and Sawt-al Khorasan, archiving them together with their own publications.