Turkey is in the midst of a wave of terror attacks that will probably escalate as long as they remain a desirable target for jihadi groups, according to Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT).
“The motivation for ISIS to attack Turkey is two-fold – one is on the operational level in that it’s easy to carry out attacks there because it’s a large country with a long, porous border with Syria where there are large amounts of foreign fighters and weapons moving, and there are also sleeper cells in towns and villages all over the country.
So the ease itself becomes a motivator for attacks.”
The other motivation, according to Ganor, is what Turkey represents to jihadi groups like ISIS. He used an anecdote from a speech he gave a decade ago to a group of Turkish military commanders and politicians in Ankara, in which he said that it is Turkey – not the US or Israel – that is the greatest threat to al-Qaida.
“Turkey shows that you can be pious Muslims and also open to the West and be a part of NATO and have moderate policies. This was the biggest threat to global terror, and that was true for al-Qaida and for ISIS. These terror attacks are very specifically against the idea of a Muslim alternative [to radical Islam].”
Ganor added that he believes that the reconciliation between Turkey and Israel would be “on the margins of the margins” in regards to being a possible motivator for the attack, which he said most likely took months of planning, and was drawn up long before anyone could predict the Ankara-Jerusalem reconciliation.
He also said that while Turkey may draw on some assistance from Israeli security officials, “Turkey is quite well-trained in dealing with terrorism, more so than many countries in the West.”