First pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi after ISIS’ “Wilayat Turkey” video


In the aftermath of the video published in 2019 where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seen holding notes designating Turkey as a “wilayat” (province), ISIS-linked media agency Amaq published a video of Turkish speaking individuals pledging allegiance (ba’yah) to ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. Several heavy weapons are seen in the video, alongside prominent messages addressed for Erdoğan and the US.

The video published on 29 April 2019 was the first in five years to depict the ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and he was seen in the video receiving a dossier from a member of his cadres with the label “Wilayat Turkey” written on it. ISIS had not made an official announcement declaring Turkey a province before, but this footage revealed that ISIS has already started to view Turkey as one of its provinces, and that there is a hierarchical structure in Turkey that is linked to the ISIS leadership. Two months later, a video showing one person speaking Turkish surrounded by four others pledging their allegiance to al-Baghdadi was published by ISIS-linked media agency Amaq.

Nearly four minutes of the five minute-long video shows three individuals surrounded by weapons. All three are seen to be wearing balaclavas and sunglasses to obscure their faces, two sit on either side holding Kalashnikov rifles, while one individual with the nom-de-guerre Abu Qatada al-Turki makes a statement in Turkish.

Abu Qatada al-Turki, who announces the end of the disintegration of the Islamic Ummah with the Islamic State, starts his statements by talking about the Global Coalition against ISIS and the aims of ISIS: “By applying the laws of Allah, all the world’s taghut [people or institutions derive their power from other sources but Allah] established a coalition never seen before, with which it attacked the glorious caliphate with all its equipment and armies. Allah SWT commanded as follows: ‘Say: Can you expect for us [any fate] other than one of two glorious things [Martyrdom or victory]? But we can expect for you either that Allah will send his punishment from Himself, or by our hands. So wait [expectant]; we too will wait with you.’ Know that, for us, there is only one purpose in battling against all the world’s infidels. That is to save man from slavery, and make them into the servants of Allah. Our fight is not for worldly possessions or comforts, rather fulfilling Allah’s command and bringing about His dominion all over the earth.”

Message to Erdoğan and the US

Addressing President Erdoğan and the United States for the remainder of his speech, Abu Qatada al-Turki says: “O Turkey’s arrogant taghut Erdoğan. Do not believe that the swords of the soldiers of the caliphate are far from you and your sycophants. Know that, your search for glory alongside the Crusaders will do you no good when faced with the soldiers of the caliphate. O America, if you think weakening the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham will cause lions of ISIS to concede and abandon jihad, you are mistaken. Because we are on our pledge for our emir, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” and he goes on to express their loyalty to al-Baghdadi: “As the ranks are cleansed, we will continue to fight with you until Allah’s religion dominates the entire world. To persevere on this path, at the command of the believers, we renew our pledge.”

The pledge is recited by Abu Qatada al-Turki in Arabic, and repeated by the four individuals seen in the picture.

Although there are five individuals seen in the footage, only one of them speaks Turkish. After the four minute-long statement in Turkish, the pledge is recited by Abu Qatada al-Turki in Arabic, and repeated by the four individuals seen on screen.

The entire video was shot in a single room, which has tarpauline that the flag of the Islamic State has been painted on to. There are no clues as to the identities of the individuals due to their use of black balaclavas, coats and jerseys. It also does not seem possible to determine whether the video was filmed in Turkey or another country.
 

The Wilayat Turkey seal seen at the beginning of the video remains on the top right corner for the duration of the footage.  

Heavy weaponry: Dragunov, Bixi, RPG and Kalashnikov 

Throughout the duration of the video one Dragunov sniper rifle, one PKM machine gun commonly known as Bixi, one loaded anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG), and two Kalashnikov rifles can be seen. 

Pledge frenzy in the wake of al-Baghdadi appearence

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seen for the first time in five years since the sermon following the capture of Mosul in 2014, when ISIS’ media channel al-Furqan published an 18 minute long video in April 2019.

In the penultimate two minutes of the video, a member of Baghdadi’s cadres was briefing him on 10 dossiers in front of him. The commander was handing the dossiers to al-Baghdadi, explaining their contents as al-Baghdadi listened.

On the 10 dossiers (or monthly reports) seen in the video were written the following titles: Wilayat Iraq, Wilayat Levant, Wilayat Khorasan, Wilayat West Africa, Wilayat Sinai, Wilayat Libya, Wilayat Yemen, Wilayat Somalia, Wilayat Caucasus, Wilayat Central Africa, Tunisia (the term ‘wilayat’ was not applied) and Wilayat Turkey.

Following the publication of this footage of al-Baghdadi, videos of pledges were published by Amaq News Agency allegedly from West Africa (Mali and Burkina Faso), Sinai, East Asia (The Philippines), Caucasus, Khorasan (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir and Iran), Azerbaijan and Libya. The last of these videos published by Amaq News Agency has been the Turkish video.

Second time: “So wait; we too will wait with you”

In his statement, Abu Qatada al-Turki, uses the phrase: “So wait; we too will wait with you” making it the second time that a video made by ISIS targeting Turkey, utilises the statement shared by 52nd verse of at-Tawbah Surah and 158th verse of al-An’am Surah.

The ‘Crusader’s Shield’ video published by ISIS in which Turkish fighter Talip Akkurt speaks. 

Following the start of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016, ISIS revealed its anger by publishing a video on December 22, 2016 named ‘Crusader’s Shield’ that depicted the immolation of privates Fethi Şahin and Sefter Taş. After the deaths of Şahin and Taş, Turkish fighter Talip Akkurt quoted the 52nd verse of at-Tawbah Surah: “So wait; we too will wait with you”.

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