I’ve been to Turkey at least a half dozen times over the years and have always loved it there. Just last October, I traveled to Istanbul for a series of meetings. I visited the Blue Mosque and various locations that I’d written about in The Third Target, including the area of restaurants and cafes where I’d set a fictional terrorist attack that nearly kills my main character, J.B. Collins, the New York Times foreign correspondent.
I’m so glad I went, but it’s going to be awhile before I go back. Turkey is fast turning from a moderate, peaceful democracy — indeed, long model of tolerance in the Islamic world since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1920s — into a dangerous dictatorship under President Erdogan, an increasingly tyrannical Islamist. What’s more, Turkey is becoming both a transit point for ISIS and al Qaeda and other jihadists, and even a target of Radical Islamic terrorism.
On March 20th, for example, a suicide bomber with links to ISIS blew himself up in the heart of Istanbul, killing four and wounded 36 people. Among the dead were three Israelis, including two with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. Eleven more Israelis were among the wounded. It was just one of many recent attacks.
Intelligence agencies are warning that Jews and Christians could be targeted with more terror attacks soon. Now the Israeli government is warning its citizens to leave Turkey immediately.
Soon, I plan to write more about the darkness falling over Turkey, a country I love dearly and one where I’ve taken my wife and children repeatedly over the years.
“The Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday issued a travel warning calling on the public to avoid visiting Turkey and urging Israelis currently there to leave as soon as they can,” reports the Times of Israel.
The warning, which raised the terror risk in Turkey from level 3 (basic concrete threat) to level 2 (high concrete threat), came in the wake of a terror attack in central Istanbul on March 19, in which three Israelis were killed and several others wounded,” the Times noted. “That attack, the PMO said in a statement, underscored the threat emanating from Islamic State cells that seek to attack tourism sites and proved that IS has ‘high capabilities of carrying out further attacks.'”
“Terrorist infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets – including Israeli tourists – throughout the country,” the statement added. Israelis in Turkey should “leave as soon as possible.””
On Saturday, Turkish police warned of possible Islamic State attacks against Christians and Jews. “IS has been blamed for four of six bombings that have rocked Turkey in the past eight months, including a double suicide attack at a peace rally in the capital, Ankara, in October that left 103 people dead,” noted the Times.
“The police have warned that IS group members may have scouted out places of worship as well as consulates and embassies, saying that churches and synagogues especially in Ankara, as well as foundations belonging to non-Muslims, should be on their guard,” the article noted. “Israel has not stated definitively whether last Saturday’s blast had deliberately targeted Israelis. It has praised Turkey for its handling of the aftermath of the bombing. The Israeli victims of the attack were Yonathan Suher, 40, Simha Dimri, 59, and Avraham Goldman, 69. Suher and Goldman were also United States citizens.”
- Order The First Hostage today — the new political thriller about ISIS plotting a chemical weapons attack against Israel, Jordan and the United States — is available in hardcover, e-book and audio formats.
- Subscribe (free) to the RSS feed (click here) and receive every new posting on this blog directly via email.
- Order THE THIRD TARGET today , the first in this new series — now out in paperback — the New York Times best-selling novel about ISIS capturing chemical weapons in Syria and plotting genocidal attacks.
- Make an investment in The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.net), our non-profit organization to help Christians care for Syrian refugees, educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, care for the poor and needy in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) with food and other humanitarian relief, care for Holocaust survivors, and strengthen the Church in the epicenter. Read our latest Donor Report, and make a tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution before the end of the year.
- Follow on Twitter — @joelcrosenberg