Islamic State (ISIS) Claims First Ever Attack Carried Out By Its 'Turkey Province', Targeting Istanbul Church, Following ISIS Spokesman's Directive To 'Target Jews And Christians Everywhere'

January 29, 2024

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On January 28, 2024, the Islamic State (ISIS) official A'maq News Agency published a claim[1] reporting that two of the organization's fighters perpetrated an attack on a church in the Büyükdere neighborhood of the Turkish capital, Istanbul. Quoting a "security source," A'maq stated that the attackers entered the church while "the Christians were performing their customary rituals on Sunday," killing one congregant and wounding another, before "withdrawing … from the site of the attack unharmed."

According to A'maq's source, the attack was perpetrated "in response to the Islamic State's leaders' call to target Jews and Christians everywhere." The claim included an image of two masked men armed with pistols, identified as the perpetrators of the attack. Their names or aliases were not given.

On the same day, ISIS' "Turkey Province" issued its own claim, reporting that a "security detachment of caliphate soldiers" fired their pistols at a "gathering of unbelieving Christians" while they were performing "their polytheistic rituals," killing one and wounding at least one more.[2]

The pro-ISIS Bariqah News Agency posted two brief videos of the attack, taken from Turkish media. One shows two masked men walking through the church's parking lot, and the other the men entering the church from a door behind the worshippers, firing several shots, and fleeing out the same door.[3]

According to media reports, the shooting occurred at the Italian Church of Santa Maria during Sunday mass. Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya reported that the two shooters, whom he did not name, were apprehended.[4]

This is the first attack ever claimed in the name of ISIS' Turkey Province. ISIS claimed attacks in the country during 2016 and 2017, but did not at the time designate Turkey as one of its official provinces.[5] In an April 2019 video, ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was shown perusing booklets about ISIS branches worldwide, including one marked "Turkey Province,"[6] and in July 2019 the province released its first and only official ISIS video.[7]

A January 4, 2024 audio message by ISIS spokesman Abu Ḥudhayfah Al-Ansari, titled "And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them," called for the organization's fighters and supporters to "target the Jews and Crusaders and their criminal allies, above every land and under every sky."[8] ISIS subsequently launched a global campaign of over 110 attacks in 12 countries, killing and wounding more than 610,[9] but without specifying that any of the operations were aimed at Jews and Christians.


[1] Telegram, January 28, 2024.

[2] Telegram, January 28, 2024.

[3] Telegramr, January 28, 2024.

[4] Bbc, January 28, 2024.

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The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

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