Terrorism reared its deadly head again in Turkey on Monday and an attack in Germany is also strongly suspected of links to radical Islamic terrorism, events that Act for America President Brigitte Gabriel says appear to be the latest indications of a bloody ideology fighting for power.
On Monday, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was gunned down while speaking at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara. According to reports, the killer then shouted a familiar Islamic refrain.
“God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!” he said, while also condemning the crushing of the Syrian rebels in Aleppo.
“Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria! Step back! Step back! Only death can take me from here,” he reportedly said.
Turkey has been inundated with terrorist attacks this year in addition to the failed attempt to topple increasingly radical President Tayyip Erdogan.
“Turkey is basically on the cliff of a complete collapse, between the forces of moderation within Turkey who feel they are losing the fight and the forces of the radicals who feel empowered and that they are winning,” said Gabriel.
She says the best chance for Turkey to reverse course has come and gone.
“I think it’s already too late for the moderates to turn the ship around. Unfortunately, the coup was the last straw, the last attempt at being able to take over the government . Moderates realize that Erdogan has literally driven the country, over the decades since he has been leading the country, into the abyss of radicalism,” said Gabriel.
“That basically killed any chance or any hope for the moderates to really take back their government,” said Gabriel.
She says it is a tragic departure from Kemal Ataturk, who less than a century ago turned Turkey into a secular Muslim nation.
“It is sad to see how far Turkey has come from being a beacon of moderation in the Islamic world in the last century under President Ataturk. He basically ended the Islamic caliphate back in 1924, less than a hundred years ago,” said Gabriel, noting Ataturk banned women from wearing hijabs or men from sporting long beards.
“Turkey went from being the example of what secularism under Islam looks like to being more radicalized now with the world heading back into the Dark Ages,” she added.
Hours after Karlov was assassinated, reports emerged of a shooting at an Islamic Center in Switzerland and a deadly truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, leaving at least nine dead and 50 injured.
Gabriel says while the tactics vary, the motivations are often the same.
“What is driving everything is the ideology that is bringing all the radicals together: the warning not only of the caliphate which was established, but the growth and power of the caliphate . And the radical Islamists now feel that the caliphate is under attack,” said Gabriel.
“They are using the attacks against ISIS as a rallying cry to basically recruit and mobilize anybody who believes the way they do,” said Gabriel.
She says inspiring jihadists is far easier now than it was on 9/11 thanks to the internet and the power of videos and social media.
“Any jihadi, regardless of what tongue he or she speaks, they can listen to these jihadi messages and they can feel inspired to carry on their own jihadi attacks and their own martyrdom operation,” said Gabriel, who says the inspiration is working because we can see many of the deadly suggestions being carried out.
“They are instructing people to go out and plow into people using a truck or a fast-driving machine, go out and slash people with a knife and cutting them, go out and carry out your own personal jihad. You can make bombs under your mom’s kitchen or in your own kitchen,” she said, noting many of the ingredients for explosives can be found in a grocery store or pharmacy.
Gabriel urges intelligence officials to be more aggressive in pursuing terrorism leads in order to avoid cases where advanced warning went unheeded, such as the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber or the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers.
She also says individual citizens can make a difference.
“On our website, ActforAmerica.org, we have a program called ‘Open Eyes Save Lives.’ We are carrying this campaign on social media, on Twitter. If you go to our website, we give tips as to what people can look out for, what you can do in the case of a terrorist attack, how to protect yourself, how to protect your community,” said Gabriel.