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HomeTurkeyIstanbulISIS Influence in Istanbul: A Call to Arms for the Arab World

ISIS Influence in Istanbul: A Call to Arms for the Arab World

A friend of mine is traveling to Istanbul in two months. He loved his first trip to Turkey and this will be his second time going. The bombing in the historic district did not dissuade him from changing his plans. He had purchased tickets for a famous soccer match months in advanced, secured great business class seats, and is redeeming points for a stay at a world-class resort. Thoughtlessly put, it would be a bit inconvenient to change all of this on the off-chance that another cowardly act could be carried out by a deranged imbecile.

That doesn’t mean he isn’t aware of the danger that is present in Istanbul. He’s assuming the risk not to defy the ‘terrorists’ but because he genuinely wants to take this trip. Though I can appreciate his desire to go on a trip that he worked and waited so long to experience, I still think there’s a larger issue here than whether going is a prudent idea.


To begin, you’ll notice that I put terrorists in quotes. It can be argued that anyone engaging in acts designed to intimidate or strike fear in the general public is a terrorist. Was this accomplished in aforementioned attack? Certainly it was. Does that mean that Istanbul is at risk of terrorist attacks? Not necessarily.

A distinction must be made between a criminal act and a terrorist attack. Random, sporadic actions carried out by those who may be sympathetic to the ISIS movement, feel some tacit bond between themselves and ISIS, or who are otherwise inspired to act because of ISIS do not make them part of the organization. These individuals were angry, felt disenfranchised, and were not integrated into society long before ISIS went from the JV team, as Obama once remarked, to the menace they have become.

Giving these loners credibility by calling them terrorists not only emboldens others to follow their lead but also empowers ISIS who can claim that their reach is far greater than it truly is. Before it was confirmed that the downing of the Russian jet was indeed a bomb which was detonated by ISIS, I speculated that they would claim credibility regardless so as to bolster their reputation as a powerful force. Indeed, I have always believed that ISIS started off as a small organization of young rabble-rousers who embraced the power of social media and applied that influence to advance their own agenda. As their notoriety increased, so did their mastery of marketing. The sinister black flag, the heinous executions streamed online in HD quality taken from multiple angles, and recruitment of Western spokespersons were all calculated. These modern-day savage pirates understood that creating a larger than life, almost mythical persona could strike fear in the heart of society while they pillaged and plundered with no regard for humanity. By developing a new brand of terrorism, they could be bigger than their actual numbers. This strategy worked and their legendary status, as revolting as it is to call it that, went viral as they committed more and more unspeakable atrocities, to the extreme that other terrorist organizations found their actions unnerving. The Western media played into the hands of this strategy by assigning members with villainous nicknames like Jihadi John, a degenerate whose stature in the terrorist community only grew bigger with his much deserved assassination.

Today, ISIS is a real, imminent threat. It is no longer a smoke and mirrors social media presentation. They are well-trained, organized, determined, and self-sufficient. Their numbers and influence continue to grow as they wreak havoc across the globe. Crushing their brutal regime will take more than air strikes and a declaration of war on terrorism by the Western world. The only way they will be obliterated is if the Arab world does the job themselves by physically battling ISIS in its own backyard and by exposing the ruse that their caliphate has been founded upon. Till that ideology is shattered, posers like the one in Istanbul will continue to be inspired by the illusion of a fallacious Islamic state.

This brings me back to my friend going to Istanbul and the reason I used his case to demonstrate that a call to arms is long overdue. I understand that there is inherent danger in any activity. Planes crash, lightning strikes, and as Al Pacino once said, “You can get killed walking your doggie.” I understand and appreciate these risks because it would be unreasonable to do otherwise. I’ve accepted these risks because, for the most part, they are out of my control. This is far different than the short-sighted approach of traveling everywhere because not doing so would mean that ‘the terrorists are winning.’ Breaking news: they are winning. Innocent people are being killed.

Until the propaganda machine that is ISIS is annihilated, there will continue to be random suicide bombers who foolishly deem themselves martyrs when the unmistakable truth is that they are nothing more than gutless cowards. The indiscriminate violence can happen and at anytime and anyplace regardless of security enhancements. Bluntly put, no one can stop someone from blowing himself up.

Having said that, it is not the adventurous traveler’s responsibility to take on ISIS by defying their mission by going, like I did to, Sharm el-Sheikh, days after their attack. The actions of few to carry on with their travel plans is not going to break the will of this organization. Only the the Arab world can intervene and restore peace and order. Only the Arab world can rise up and eliminate the cancer of radical Islam.

Prophetically, like any scheme established out of vice not virtue, the cracks in the dubious foundation are beginning to show. As ISIS’s funds begin to dwindle and as more fighters witness first-hand that their Utopian society is a devolution into the Dark Ages, defectors are emerging. The Arab world must capitalize on this growing disillusionment and reclaim a religion hijacked by an imposture standard-bearer whose tenets are not aligned with the true teachings of Islam. 

There is no other solution. 




    • I hope you are kidding. That’s the most ‘america fuck yeah’ response to everything. “Don’t let the terrorists win!” Did you miss the whole part about how the ‘sleeper cell’ loser is just a loner thinking he’s part of ISIS but in reality he’s just an outcast. They’re not keeping score, they’re trying to create their own society. Random acts of violence that are linked back because someone liked ISIS on Facebook isn’t organized terrorism, stop making them seem more significant than the scum they already are.

      • It’s true. Terrorism depends on irrational fear. One major goal of these terrorist attacks is to discourage tourism and that hurts the local economy. This results in more poor an disenfranchised people that are ripe for ISIS recruitment. I was in Istanbul a couple weeks ago and I want to go back as soon as I can, it’s an amazing city. And statistically, I took a far bigger risk with my life by driving my car to the airport, than any terrorist threat. If Istanbul is too risk for you, you better stay out of cars, don’t get in the shower, don’t walk down a set of stairs, and don’t eat that cheeseburger. ALL of which are WAY more likely to kill you, than a terrorist.

        • There is something to be said about gun violence in America, about statistics of getting killed by a terrorist versus walking your dog in NYC but this is not the basis for my argument. Even if the odds are indeed lower, the chances of something happening to you today in Istanbul as it relates to terrorism are much higher than when I was there post Taksim Square. The problem is that these attacks are arbitrary so until the root of the problem is eradicated such ‘one in a billion’ events will continue to unfold when in a modern society, there should be no chance that a civilized human would blow himself up on the basis of any belief.

          I do agree that they are hurting the tourist industry but why doesn’t the Arab World put a stop to it. They have the money and the forces but until Saudi Arabia is overrun by ISIS, until the UAE feels threatened, none of this is going to stop.

        • And at the end of the day, Turkey will increase police presence in Istanbul and Ankara, round up a bunch of Kurds, oppress some journalists, and everyone will get back to their daily lives. Problem solved.

        • More nonsense from your end. Did you even read what I wrote? Here’s a quick recap: “Bluntly put, no one can stop someone from blowing himself up.”

        • “The Arab world must capitalize on this growing disillusionment and reclaim a religion hijacked by an imposture standard-bearer whose tenets are not aligned with the true teachings of Islam.”

        • NO! In the words of George Farah “Learn how to read!” Skim, that’s all the West does when it comes to these problems, skim + airstrikes which go nowhere. Here’s a new solution. Leave and let the Arab community deal with it. They want to live in the Dark Ages, let them have it.

        • Again, you are missing the forest for the trees. It is not about the probability of getting killed. It’s not about statistics of plane crashes, the number of times people get hit by cars in the street. It is about common sense.

          To spell it out, when I went to Sharm, I was going to a place where ISIS had purposefully planned and targeted a Russian chartered jet days after Russia decided to help their nemesis, Al-Asaad maintain power. They were sending a message to Russia, mind your own business or else.

          Here, you have Turkey, a country with a porous border to Syria. Utilizing common sense, you can see how the prevalence of ISIS or ISIS ideology could infect the populous. The next, more important point that you continue to miss is that this isn’t about whether or not you should go to Istanbul. You want to go, go but understand that so long as ISIS is piping it propaganda there is going to be the ‘lone wolf’ fake ‘martyr’ who will think they are called to action. That is why, as I wrote, the ideology that ISIS supports, the extreme form of Islam they practice, needs to be destroyed. If Catholics went back to the days of the Inquisition, I hope peaceful Catholics wouldn’t sit idle and say ‘this is a religion of peace’ while doing nothing to stop the ‘radicalized’ killers.

        • Stop thinking travel for a damn minute! I know it’s a travel blog but that was just the springboard that prompted this piece.

        • It’s why you should or shouldn’t go that’s the issue, not if you should or should not go! I’m resorting to exclamation points now because my words are being ignored.

        • im saying my friend is going because he booked all the stuff. Personally, I would not go, I would not advise going because I don’t have some close-minded, short-sighted point to prove. “not on my watch, terrorists, I go where I please when I want!” Nobody ever walked into a lions den and told the lions this is his house now, except for the man who killed Cecil.

          Get your house in order Arab World or this will be your daily reality and I’m not talking Baghdad.

      • I’m not going to get into a discussion about my religion vs. your religion. Aaron is correct on this one and to think Christianity is a more peaceful religion because it has already had its dark days (the Crusades) is ignorant.

        There was a time when Catholics, Christians, Muslims of different sects all lived peacefully together and it was not long ago. Though I am not religious, my background is Iraqi Catholic, a culture that has co-existed with others for generations.

        Islam is the world’s second largest religion and I’m guessing many of them read the Koran. By your misguided comments, there is no solution, just perpetual fear.

  1. This is hard to read, really. The whole discussion is circular. You advise against travel to Istanbul and that Arab nations should deal with the problem. But you also say this “no one can stop someone from blowing himself up.”
    So PointsofLife person, based on this logic, where is it safe to travel? Paris, or is that still a problem. Oregon or California? How about Oslo? Based on your reasoning, we should all be very afraid and consider not travelling until someone else deals with the problem.
    You are just filled with fear. Once ISIS is defeated there will be another radical group, or individual(s) that come along and create chaos. The advice should be this…don’t let fear change your perception of the world. Bad people exist now and will exist in the future. Take precautions, be smart and sensible, but travel, and experience the world.
    I’m thinking about going to Cologne soon. Oh wait, that is scary and in the headlines. Maybe Munich. Nope, bad stuff there, I think I’ll skip Germany altogether too many immigrants streaming in. I think I’ll vote for Trump instead and lock down our borders and go to war with everyone. Yup, that’s what I’ll do, and watch more headline news….

    • Oh here we go again. 900 words and the 2 that say it’s a bad idea/advocate against it are taken out of context.

      Everything you wrote had nothing to do with my message. But, since I want my message to be heard and not misinterpreted, I have made clarifications above. I’m sure now I’ll be attacked for making changes.

      Bottom line: this isn’t about your mr traveler, this is about ISIS and the Arab world’s inaction on something that is longer overdue.

      Get it now? Or should I spell it out more?

        • I don’t even like Istanbul! i should’ve added it to my places not to go in 2016. I’m going to Jordan in November, who’s winning now b!tch.

        • I went to Jordan in 2007.

          And i distinctly remember your reporting from Istanbul as being very positive. “These people really know how to go out! The nightlife is amazing! This is a party city!”

        • lol so last time i was there before Mongolia they wouldn’t let me in the club. opinion changed hahah but yeah party scene good, food bleh, people are not nice at all.

    • And perhaps I should but won’t say thank you for missing the point of what I wrote. It has improved my post and made my message clearer. But doing so would mean that I have capitulated to commentators hijacking my blog.

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