Drug cartel attacks 'ISIL recruiters' in Istanbul: Report

Drug cartel attacks 'ISIL recruiters' in Istanbul: Report

Drug cartel attacks ISIL recruiters in Istanbul: Report

The Ayışığı (Moonlight) Association in the Gültepe neighborhood of Istanbul's Kağıthane district.

A recent gunfight that killed two people in Istanbul started when a drug cartel attacked a “shady” association, which has been accused by locals of recruiting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, a Turkish daily has reported.

A group of men began shooting at the Ayışığı (Moonlight) Association late April 13, in the Gültepe neighborhood of the Kağıthane district, when people from inside the association responded. The gunfight left two people dead and five injured. 

Quoting testimonies of the eight people detained by police, Turkish media had initially reported the gunfight was the result of “an existing hostility between the two rival groups,” without elaborating.

Daily Vatan reported April 15 that the association conducted “strange” activities. Locals have accused the organization of recruiting ISIL militants and some detainees claimed the association indoctrinated children with radical Islamist views, while pretending to teach them how to use a computer.

In photos published on the Facebook page of the association, children were seen praying, reading the Quran and making presentations on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Another photo featured a gallows from a theatre play apparently staged by the association in front of the children to depict an execution scene.

Children targeted

Those who were detained with their guns in the association claimed the incident followed a neighborhood fight they had engaged in with a drug cartel. Association members said the cartel had sold drugs to two children earlier in the day, which led to the fight, the report added.

It was not immediately possible to verify the testimonies about the association or the group. Initial media reports had said the first dispute on April 13 broke out when association members warned neighborhood youths not to sit at the entrance of the association building.

“Considering its radical activities, anti-terror police have launched a probe into the association’s possible links to a magazine, which was recently attacked,” the newspaper said, referencing an incident when a pressure-induced bomb left at the entrance door at the office of Adımlar Magazine in Kağıthane late on March 25 left one dead and three injured.

The magazine, which allegedly has close ties with illegal Turkish Islamist group the Islamic Great East Raiders Front (IBDA-C), has organized campaigns demanding the release of Salih Mirzabeyoğlu, the leader of the group, and supports ISIL.