While detaining dozens, Turkey shuts down major ISIS-linked websites
by Özge Bulur
ISTANBULJul 14, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Özge Bulur
Jul 14, 2015 12:00 am
After detaining numerous individuals with suspected links to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, Turkish authorities blocked access to three websites on Tuesday due to their propaganda-sharing on behalf of the extremist terrorist group.
Turkey's Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication (BTK) blocked access to "enfalmedya.com", "takvahaber.com" and "darulhilafe.com" websites in line with the decision by Gölbaşı district's Criminal Court of Peace for canvassing for the ISIS terror organization. Thereupon, the abovementioned websites launched a social media campaign against the court ruling, as well as publishing articles to disapprove the court's decision and the Turkish government.
Having recognized ISIS as a terrorist organization in Oct. 10, 2013 with an official declaration, Turkey remains committed to fighting the organization. The country has identified and delivered potential foreign fighters seeking to cross the border to Syria to join ISIS, in spite of little cooperation in intelligence sharing from its Western partners. Statistical data released by official sources show that since the first day of 2015, Turkish security forces have detained more than 500 individuals for suspected links to ISIS. Moreover, courts handed down prison sentences to approximately 100 individuals on terrorism charges.
As part of its commitment to fight the ISIS threat in the region, the National Security Council (MGK) on June 29 held a meeting during which Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declared that additional security measures were discussed and they will work toward their implementation. From then on, the police has tightened security at transfer points such as airports, terminals, bus stations and rental car companies with a special risk analysis system, and a team has been tasked with tracking suspicious foreigners who travel to Turkey for the first time and those who are minors who do not have hotel reservations. After the simultaneous operations, last Friday morning police raided the addresses of those who have suspected links to ISIS in four provinces, namely Istanbul, Kocaeli and the southern provinces of Mersin and Şanlıurfa. Including three foreign nationals, 21 people were taken into custody by law enforcement agents. Separately on Monday, police detained nine suspects in the central province of Konya on suspicion of providing members and logistical support to the terrorist group. The suspects were reportedly luring people with promises of paradise, cars and money to join the militant group. As a result of all the extra measures taken by the Turkish Armed Forces to secure the nation's borders and Turkey's allies sharing more information on their citizens travelling to Turkey in an attempt to join ISIS, the country has effectively controlled the influx of foreign terrorist fighters into the region. So far, Turkey deported more than 1,500 suspected ISIS members. The Turkish authorities banned nearly 15,000 individuals from 98 countries from entering the country.
According to a U.S. study called The Isis Twitter Census, released by the Brookings Institution in March 2015, there are at least 46,000 Twitter accounts operating on behalf of the ISIS terrorist organization. The institution reports that the actual number identified in the last three months of 2014 is possibly much higher. While three-quarters of those Twitter accounts tweet in Arabic, about one-in-five of them tweet in English. Moreover, those accounts have nearly 1,000 followers on average. The study illustrates that typical ISIS supporters are located within the organization's territories in Syria and Iraq, as well as in regions contested by ISIS. However, hundreds of ISIS-linked accounts tweet with location metadata embedded. The co-author of the study, JM Berger, says that ISIS is much more successful than any other militant groups who exploits any sort of technology for their interests.