As ISIS continues to expand its control over Iraq and Syria, the nature of the group and its membership are coming under increasing scrutiny, as is the Turkish factor, particularly important as ISIS now spans much of Turkey’s southern border.
According to Germany’s Die Welt, of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 ISIS members, some 1,000 of them are known to be Turkish citizens. The group has recruited worldwide, but such a broad Turkish contingent could be significant given their proximity to southern Turkey.
ISIS, along with other rebel factions, have used Turkey as a staging area as well as a source of fighters. In addition to the Turkish citizens, some 1,200 people from EU member nations have joined ISIS as well, also traveling through Turkey.
Turkey’s problem with ISIS is only going to grow, and the Erdogan government is trying to keep the media from covering it too broadly, imposing a gag order on stories about the 49 Turkish citizens captured by ISIS in early June. The situation remains unresolved, but essentially uncoverable inside Turkey.