Turkish Islamic State emir continues to operate through dozens of social media accounts
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- Halis Bayancuk Halis Bayancuk (also known as Abu Hanzala) is a member of...[+]
- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Affected Countries: turkey;
On June 27, 2018, the court board of the second criminal court of Sakarya province in Turkey sentenced Halis Bayancuk aka Ebu Hanzala to 12 years and six months in prison for the crime of “establishing and managing an armed terror organization” and to another year, six months, and 22 days for “organization propaganda,” for a total sentence of 14 years and 22 days.
A member of the Zaza ethnic group born in 1984 in Diyarbakır, Turkey, Bayancuk had been arrested in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017 in police raids connected to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as in a raid connected to the 2003 truck bombings of the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues in Istanbul that killed 23.
Though he was imprisoned for about five and a half out of the last 10 years, Bayancuk’s June 2018 sentence is the longest he has received. Turkish media, including state-run media, consistently describe Bayancuk as the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Turkey.
In December 2014, a video surfaced in which Bayancuk said: “The Islamic State (ISIS) is our brother in faith. We count every attack against them as against ourselves. I believe that this war is a war of creed. I am with my brothers. I consider whoever does an attack against our brothers, to have done this attack against me. For this reason each of us must make our side on this issue clear.”
In May 2017, the Sakarya attorney general’s office accused Bayancuk of operating a secret mosque to recruit members for ISIS. A May 2018 indictment following an investigation in Diyarbakır stated that Bayancuk had said in his religious lectures that jihad is a religious obligation for all Muslims and that those who do not wage jihad are idolators.
To those who wished to make jihad, he reportedly said: “Let’s send you on jihad, we’ll cover all the expenses.” Levent Uysal, who was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in planning the June 2016 attack that killed 46 people and wounded 163 at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, was found with audio and video recordings of Bayancuk’s lectures on his phone. Uysal said of Bayancuk: “Like my other teachers, Ebu Hanzala is one who gives Islamic knowledge. I listen to Ebu Hanzala to learn Islam.” According to Bayancuk’s personal Twitter account, he is being held in the Silivri Closed Prison No. 9, located outside of Istanbul.
Bayancuk’s writings and videos are shared and promoted on many Turkish-language Salafi-jihadi websites and social media accounts, but the content is first uploaded to two websites with which Bayancuk is personally associated. One, Tevhiddersleri.tv, hosts over 2,000 videos and audio recordings of his lectures, while the other, Tevhiddergisi.net, hosts his writings and those of 35 other writers who appear to share his Salafi-jihadi views, along with a monthly Salafi-jihadi magazine called Tevhid (“Monotheism”).
Aside from their focus on Bayancuk’s lectures and writing, the two websites also link to the same social media accounts, have the same “About Us” page, promote the same books, and share a similar appearance and writing style. Many videos on Tevhiddersleri.tv discuss jihad, and Tevhiddergisi.net offers books such as The Method Of The People Of The Sunnah And The Fundamentals Of Jihad, and Scenes From The Jihad Of The Prophet’s Companions for sale and in PDF. Almost every issue of Tevhid magazine mentions jihad, while well over half of the issues have full articles on the subject.
Though the administrators of this collection of websites and social media accounts do not refer to themselves as such, they can be thought of as parts of a single organization and therefore will be referred to in this report as the Tevhid Organization. The Tevhid Organization has at least five websites: Tevhiddersleri.tv and Tevhiddergisi.net, which are mentioned above; Radyotevhid.net, which hosts the Internet radio station Radyo Tevhid (“Monotheism Radio”); Tevhidsiparis.com or Tevhid Sipariş (“Monotheism Order”), which is an online bookstore offering hundreds of books as well as print copies of Tevhid magazine for sale; and a fifth website, Ebuhanzala.kim, describing Bayancuk’s life and trial. Four of these five websites are hosted in Michigan, U.S., while the fifth, Tevhidsiparis.com, is hosted in Turkey.
The organization has at least 13 Twitter accounts, three Facebook pages, five Telegram channels, three YouTube channels, two Instagram accounts, two WhatsApp numbers, four mobile apps, a Google Plus account, and an account on the Denmark-based digital publishing platform Issuu. In total these platforms have approximately 113,000 followers, to whom they distribute Bayancuk’s video lectures and issues of Tevhid magazine in PDF, as well as graphics and other content. Many of these accounts and pages include the Tevhid Organization’s original material translated into other languages. The organization also has nine physical locations in five cities in Turkey, of which eight hold weekly meetings. On October 4, 2018, Turkish counter-terror police raided the Tevhid Organization’s Ankara office.
Tevhiddersleri.tv, the homepage of “Tevhid Dersleri (Monotheism Lessons),” hosts at least 2,252 videos, almost all of which are lectures, commentary, interviews, and Q&A by Bayancuk, and most of which are about 40 minutes long, though they range from two minutes to well over an hour. There are also videos in Turkish on learning Arabic, street interviews, and a nasheed (“Islamic song”). The videos cover many subjects from a Salafi-jihadi standpoint, and are divided into categories, including: “Creed Lessons,” “Commentary Lessons,” “Islamic Jurisprudence Lessons,” “Hadith Commentary,” “Moral Lessons,” and “Method Lessons.” The page has an “Other Languages” section that includes pages for content in the English, Albanian, Georgian, Russian, German, French, Dutch, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, and Uzbek languages, though some of these pages are empty. The homepage of the website shows a picture of Bayancuk and, as of this writing, reads: “Teacher Ebu Hanzala has been imprisoned for 501 days in his last arrest and 2,081 days in total.” This image is updated each day on the organization’s websites and is shared on its many social media accounts.
The website has books for sale, among them The Method Of The People Of The Sunnah And The Fundamentals Of Jihad, and Scenes From The Jihad Of The Prophet’s Companions. These books, which are 324 and 284 pages respectively, can be downloaded in PDF or bought. The links to buy the books go to a page on Tevhiddergisi.net, where the organization hosts most of its articles as well as its monthly magazine Tevhid. Tevhiddersleri.tv has recommended reading lists, 12 books by Bayancuk, and seven books by other authors available to buy or download.
The opening sentence of a third book, The Responsibilities Of The Muslims To Allah, which is 304 pages and written by Bayancuk himself, reads: “In this book we will try to examine especially the duties of the mujahideen and, naturally, along with this the duties of Muslims in general.” In this book the word “mücahid (mujahid)” appears 50 times and the word “cihad (jihad)” appears 53 times.
The image shown along with 37 separate audio recordings on the website of readings from and commentary on this book gives the book’s title not as The Responsibilities Of The Muslims To Allah but rather as The Responsibilities Of The Mujahideen To Allah. This may be because the title of this book was changed or because an error was made on the website.
A search on Tevhiddersleri.tv for “cihad (jihad)” brings up 42 videos, among them are videos titled: “They Make Jihad In The Path Of Allah,” “The Types And Ruling Of Jihad,” “Preparation For Jihad,” “Fundamentals Of Jihad,” “Can We Contribute Materially To The Jihad That We Do Not Join?” “Can A Person With Debt Go To Jihad?” “When An Islamic Congregation Has Forbidden Jihad, Can This Command Be Followed?” “How Should We Think Of The Phrase ‘We Returned From The Greater Jihad To The Lesser Jihad’?” “Is It A Requirement That There Be A Congregation In Order To Make Jihad?” “What Should Be Understood Today From The Phrase ‘Jihad Is Fard Al-Ayn (requirement on each individual Muslim)’?” “What Is The Ruling On Killing Civilians In The Jihad Environment?” “What Is Fey And Can It Be Applied Outside Of Jihad Environments?” “If A Person Does Jihad, Is This Evidence That They Have Taken Islamic Rule (i.e., that they are a Muslim)?” “Can Groups That Do Not Share The Same Creed Make Jihad Together?” “What Should Our Stance Be Against Congregations That Are Against Jihad And Second Marriage?” “What Should Be Done When A Young Person Wants To Join Jihad But His Family, Who Is Muslim, Does Not Want Him To?” “What Do You Think Of People Calling You A Jihadi Or An Enemy Of Jihad? Teacher Ebu Hanzala,” and “Is It Suitable For A Person To Leave His Spouse To The Idolaters And Make Jihad?”
Tevhiddergisi.net is the homepage of a “monthly Islamic education magazine” called Tevhid. On the homepage of the website is the same graphic counting the days that Bayancuk has been imprisoned. The website lists 35 writers aside from Bayancuk.
As of this writing, there have been 76 issues of Tevhid. The issues range in length from approximately 60 to 100 pages and are available for download in PDF on the website.
The following are examples from three articles on jihad found in the first three issues of Tevhid magazine, though each article is longer and more detailed than what is provided here. Page 41 of Issue One says of Qur’an verses discussed earlier in the article: “We understand that Allah does not expect any benefit or value for Himself from people. Here what is desired by Allah from His slave, what is necessary for the slave to do for himself is jihad; because jihad is the believer’s helper in this world and in the hereafter.”
Under the heading “Jihad’s Benefit For The World,” the article continues: “A society that cannot realize its jihad, its resistance in the world, is a despicable society that is crushed by the pharaohs. The societies that yesterday were crushed under the heavy stones of the pharaohs’ pyramids, today are crushed under the heavy taxes of the pharaohs. Because here there is the problem of ‘abandoning jihad in the path of allah.'”
Under the subheading “The Harms Of The World That Come From Abandoning Jihad,” the article cites several hadith that encourage jihad. It goes on: “The society that avoids jihad is the community that the Messenger of Allah mentions (above). Whereas the community that makes jihad is a community of honor… Inshallah we will touch on the benefits of jihad regarding the hereafter when the time comes in our article series.” Under the subheading “Jihad Is A Test,” the article continues: “Allah tests us in this world with the unbelievers. He wants to make plain those who are right in their faith and follow the command of jihad, and those who are liars in their faith and avoid attending this command.”
On page 43 of Issue Two, an article titled “The Matter Of Preparing For Jihad” reads: “Communities in the world that are unable to realize jihad are condemned to live in despicableness, to be oppressed and treated contemptuously under the exploitative orders of the pharaohs.”
One passage of the article reads: “This is a fact: Just as jihad separates the believer from the hypocrite, the preparations for jihad also separate the believer from the hypocrite.”
On page 48 of Issue Three, an article titled “The Importance Of Spiritual Preparation For Jihad,” reads: “Just as Allah made jihad a religious duty on the believers, He also made the preparations (necessary) for this obligation to be carried out a religious duty on the believers.”
One passage of the article reads: “As a matter of fact, Allah commands: ‘Satan scares you with poverty and commands you to (do) evil.’ (Imagine) one day you watched jihadi videos on the internet, in a religious discussion you listened to (the stories of how) the companions of the Prophet became martyrs in the arenas of jihad, at that moment the motion of the blood in your veins made you desire to be a martyr and you decided to make jihad. Satan, who heard this decision that brings honor to a person, (will say) right away with his waswasa (satanic whisperings): ‘Oh! The soldiers and the technological weapons of the army that opposes you are too much. Your battle will not harm them, then what will your family, your child do…’ And will make (you) forget Allah’s help and power, and will release within you the love of the world and the fear of death.”
Issue 30 page 15 of Tevhid reads: “We, as Tevhid Magazine, have criticized and do criticize the Islamic State Of Iraq and Syria’s hard line, its Caliphate declaration initiative, its forcing of groups outside of itself to pledge allegiance to it, its still having not put forward a clear creed and method, leaving the door open to different comments. But none of these (reasons) are justification for war with a Muslim group.”
A search of Tevhiddergis.net using Google for the term “cihad (jihad)” brings up 625 pages.
Tevhiddersleri.tv and Tevhiddergisi.net also link to Radyotevhid.net, which hosts Radyo Tevhid (“Monotheism Radio”).
The page’s “Broadcast Schedule” tab brings up a schedule showing what programming will be played on the channel on given days of the week and hours of the day. The programming includes Quran recitation in Arabic and in Turkish, Arabic lessons, lectures, and Q&A sessions. It appears that radio plays seven days a week and nearly 24 hours a day.
The “Discussion” tab on the website brings up many lectures on a range of Islamic subjects. Among them are a 42-minute lecture titled “They Make Jihad In The Path Of Allah” and a one-hour lecture titled “The Types And Ruling Of Jihad.”
Tevhidsiparis.com, the homepage of Tevhid Sipariş (“Monotheism Order”), offers 334 books and print copies of 15 issues of Tevhid magazine for sale. The website gives the WhatsApp number 05513865301. This number may require the Turkish country code +90.
Among the books for sale on the website are The Method Of The People Of The Sunnah And The Fundamentals Of Jihad, Scenes From The Jihad Of The Prophet’s Companions, and a third book called Jihad And Martyrdom.
The Tevhid Dersleri Twitter account @Tevhid_Dersleri has 8,657 followers and was opened in July 2015. The pinned tweet on the account from June 27, 2018, is about Bayancuk’s recent sentencing. The account regularly posts videos of Bayancuk, graphics with his photo and quotes, and updates on his incarceration and trial.
There are Twitter accounts with the same format as Tevhid Dersleri account in English with 225 followers, in French with 236 followers, in German with 90 followers, and in Arabic with 478 followers.
The Tevhid Dergisi Twitter account @Tevhid_Dergisi was opened in July 2015 and has 7,028 followers. The pinned tweet on the account from June 27, 2018, is about Bayancuk’s recent sentencing. The account posts videos, graphics, information about Bayancuk’s trial, articles from Tevhiddergisi.net, and links to issues of the Tevhid magazine in PDF.
The Tevhidi Gündem (“Monotheistic Agenda”) Twitter account @Tevhidi_Gundem was opened July 2015 and has 9,264 followers. Tevhidigundem.biz and Tevhidigundem.org appear to have been other websites belonging to the organization that have been shut down. Tevhidi Gundem’s Instagram, Telegram, and Facebook, accounts, to which the Twitter account links, remain active. The link on the Twitter account to Tevhidi Gundem’s YouTube channel is broken. The pinned tweet on the account from July 7, 2018, is a broken link to the full text of Bayancuk’s “court speech.”
The Tevhid Ekip (“Monotheism Team”) Twitter account @TevhidEkip was opened April 2014 and has 10,400 followers.
Bayancuk’s personal Twitter account @EbuHanzalaHoca3 was opened in May 2012 and has 4,243 followers. The location given on the account is Silivri 9 No’lu Kapalı Cezaevi (“Silivri Closed Prison No. 9”), which is in a prison complex located outside of Istanbul, Turkey.
There are Twitter accounts with the same format as Bayancuk’s personal account in English with 1,436 followers, in German with 1,411 followers, and in Arabic with 1,051 followers. The German Twitter account links to a German Facebook page and the Arabic Twitter account links to an Arabic Facebook page. Both Facebook pages appear to have been shut down.
The Radyo Tevhid Twitter account @radyotevhidnet has 553 followers, was opened in November 2017, and links to the organization’s Radyo Tevhid website, to a Facebook page that has been shut down, and to a Telegram channel that has 54 members. The pinned tweet on the account from February 6, 2018, shows a photo of Bayancuk in handcuffs and gives a now outdated update on his trial. It also frequently retweets posts from Bayancuk’s personal Twitter account.
The Tevhid Dersleri (“Monotheism Lessons”) Facebook page had 1,440 “likes.” This page appears to have been shut down in early October 2018.
The Tevhid Dergisi (“Monotheism Magazine”) Facebook page has 6,168 “likes.”
The Tevhidi Gündem (“Monotheistic Agenda”) Facebook page has 4,996 “likes.”
The organization has at least five Telegram channels. The Tevhid Dersleri Telegram channel has 1,315 members.
Bayancuk’s personal Telegram channel has 510 members.
The Tevhid Dergisi Telegram channel has 483 members.
The Tevhidi Gündem Telegram channel has 233 members. Until January 2017 this channel frequently shared links to articles on Tevhidigundem.org. It is possible that the Tevhidi Gündem website was shut down around that time.
The Tevhid Dersleri YouTube channel has 28,510 subscribers and 55 videos.
Bayancuk’s personal YouTube channel has 10,596 subscribers and 532 videos.
The Tevhid Dergisi YouTube channel has 1,680 subscribers and no videos. The background picture of the channel directs users toward the Tevhid Dersleri YouTube channel and Bayancuk’s personal YouTube channel.
A search for “Ebu Hanzala,” on YouTube brings up many videos of Bayancuk’s lectures uploaded by many different channels, indicating that the original videos are downloaded and re-uploaded by his followers.
A search using Google for “Ebu Hanzala” on YouTube.com brings up 27,900 hits, indicating that though Bayancuk’s personal YouTube channel has uploaded 532 videos of his lectures, it is possible that they have been downloaded and re-uploaded by followers as many as 27,900 times.
Narrowing this search to results in German brings up approximately 90 videos, and narrowing it to results in French brings up approximately 70 videos.
The Tevhid Dergisi Instagram account _tevhiddergisi_ has 1,389 followers.
The Tevhid Dersleri Instagram account _Tevhiddersleri had 424 followers. This page appears to have been shut down in early October 2018.
On April 7, 2018, the Tevhid Dergisi Twitter account wrote: “Suggestions to monotheist teachers. For subscription or orders WhatsApp +90 545 762 15 15. Delivery to everywhere in the world. Annual subscription: 70 TL + free shipping + 3 books as a gift. Don’t miss this opportunity!” This is the phone number given for the organization’s three offices in Istanbul.
On April 21, 2018, the Tevhid Dergisi Twitter account wrote: “Dispute Jurisprudence – Ebu Hanzala Teacher. WhatsApp for orders + 90 551 386 53 01 (Tevhid Bookshop). Delivery to everywhere in the world. Annual subscription: 70 TL + free shipping + 3 books as a gift. (From the (camera) frame of our follower in Denmark).”
The Tevhid Organization has four mobile apps available for download on the Google Play Store. The Tevhid Dersleri app has a five-star rating with 614 reviews. The app has been installed over 10,000 times, was last updated April 9, 2018, and two email addresses associated with it are Tevhidltdg@gmail.com and Tevhiddergisi@gmail.com.
The Radyo Tevhid app has a five-star rating with 17 reviews, has been installed over 1,000 times, and was most recently updated April 11, 2018. The Tevhid Dergisi app has a five-star rating with 25 reviews, has been installed over 1,000 times, and was most recently updated April 11, 2018. The Tevhidi Gündem app has a five-star rating with 16 reviews, has been installed over 500 times, and was most recently updated on April 10, 2018. The organization also promotes its apps on Tevhiddersleri.tv.
Another website, Ebuhanzala.kim, has only one page and gives a favorable description of Bayancuk’s life and his incarceration along with links to the Tevhid Organization websites and several of its social media accounts. Bayancuk’s personal Twitter account links to this page.
The Tevhid Dersleri Google Plus page has 470 followers
Tevhid Dergisi also has an account on the Denmark-based digital publishing platform Issuu, where it has 36 followers and has uploaded each of its 76 issues of Tevhid magazine in PDF.
The Tevhid Sipariş website gives the address Kaynartepe mah. Gürsel cad.no 90 A Bağlar, Diyarbakır and the WhatsApp number 05513865301. The Tevhid Dersleri website lists eight addresses in six cities and gives phone numbers and weekly “seminar” meeting times for each location. There are three locations in Istanbul and one each in the Turkish cities of Konya, Diyarbakır, Van, Bursa, and Ankara. The phone numbers likely require the country code +90 when calling from outside of Turkey. The locations are:
– Kirazlı Mh. Mahmutbey Cd. No:120 Bağcılar/İstanbul – 0545 762 15 15 – Saturday, 9:00 pm.
– Yeşilkent Mh. Balık Yolu Cd. 3/G Sk. No: 1 Kat: 2 34325 Avcılar/Istanbul – 0545 762 15 15 – Saturday, 9:00 pm.
– İsmetpaşa Mh. 90. Sk. No: 4 34270 Sultangazi/Istanbul – 0545 762 15 15 – Saturday, 9:00 pm.
– Mengene Mh. Büyük Kumköprü Cd. No:78/A 42020 Karatay/Konya – 0543 225 50 49 – Saturday, 9:00 pm.
– Mezopotamya Mh. 327. Sk. Seval Kent Sitesi A Blok No: 1/A Kayapınar/Diyarbakır – 0536 680 82 76 – Sunday, 8:00 pm.
– Bahçıvan Mh. Sıhke Cd. Karatekin Sk. Yavuz Canlı Apt. Kat: 2 65040Tuşba/Van – 0543 225 50 45 – Saturday, 8:00 pm.
– Kazım Karabekir Mh. 2061. Sk. No: 18 06794 Etimesgut/Ankara – 0543 225 50 48 – Sunday, 9:00 pm.
– Bağlarbaşı Mh. Nilüfer Cd. 2. Fırın Sk. No: 4 16160 Osmangazi/Bursa 0543 225 50 46 – Sunday, 9:00 pm.