On Sunday, for the fourth time since taking over as the head of the Islamic State following the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. Special Operations Forces raid based on intelligence gathered by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Abu Hamza al-Qurashi posted an audio recording to his supporters urging them to target westerners in Saudi Arabia, as well as the country’s economic infrastructure because “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be targeted for its support for the normalization of the Gulf states with Israel.”
The timing of the audio message, however, has raised suspicion among some regional observers. The release of the recording comes just days after a popular campaign in Saudi Arabia to boycott Turkish products has gained steam, with activist in other countries calling for similar boycotts.
There is sufficient evidence to believe that some degree of coordination or cooperation exists between Turkish intelligence and the Islamic State.
Two U.S. officials told Foreign Policy that during the October 2019 Turkish invasion of Tel Abyad and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) in North and East Syria, factions in the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) with ties to extremists were, “deliberately releasing detainees affiliated with the Islamic State from unguarded prisons.”
A recent report by the Rojava Information Center has identified 40 former Islamic State fighters and leaders now in the ranks of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).