A new kind of war

A new kind of war

Turkey was the site of yet another terrorist attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Jan. 12, in Istanbul’s highly touristic historical area Sultanahmet. The attack killed 11, including the suicide bomber, and wounded 15.

Saudi-born Syrian national Nabil Fadli, who according to police records was born in 1988, detonated himself near a group of mostly German tourists near a historical monument known as the German Fountain, some 50 meters from the Blue Mosque and 250 meters from the Hagia Sophia.

After calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer condolences, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced that all people killed in the attack were (mostly German) foreigners, “guests of Turkey.” Among the injured were also Norwegians and Peruvians. It was actually Davutoğlu who announced that the attacker was linked to ISIL.

President Tayyip Erdoğan, who has vowed that the attack would not deter Turkey from fighting terrorism regardless of the religious, ethnic, political identities it uses, announced last week that Turkish soldiers had killed 18 ISIL militants who attacked a Turkish military site where anti-ISIL groups are trained near Bashiqa in Iraq. 

Turkey was also attacked by ISIL suicide bombers recently on Oct. 10, 2015 at a peace rally in Ankara, killing 103 people and wounding hundreds. Turkish security units recently said they had uncovered another wave of planned attacks on New Year’s Eve targeting six cities in Europe, including Istanbul and Munich. The German government took the threat seriously and later expressed appreciation for the uncovering. 

There have been reports that Turkish intelligence warned the police and military earlier in January that ISIL could attack touristic targets, together with a list of suspected ISIL members, mostly Turkish nationals.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said yesterday after the attack that the name of the Jan. 12 suicide bomber was not on the list of terrorists wanted by the police. He also said there was no security failure in the attack - a line that the government stuck to after last year’s Ankara attacks.

One important aspect of yesterday’s attack was that it was carried out by a foreign terrorist on Turkish soil and all those killed were also foreign nationals. This is something that has never happened in Turkey before, and it highlights the global dimension of the fight against ISIL and similar organizations. It was obvious after 9/11 that global guerilla warfare had been declared by al-Qaeda, which was at the time the spearhead of jihadist organizations before being overwhelmed by ISIL. 

As proxy wars evolve into confrontations between real armies in the Syrian and Iraqi theaters, with the inclusion of Iranian and Russia, the outlook indicates the possibility of a new kind of global or world war. In this new kind of war, there are no longer battlefields or limited geographies (like Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, or Syria); instead, the entire planet is a battlefield and it is necessary for all governments to cooperate closely against this new kind of threat.