Jihadist books written by radical al-Qaeda clerics who inspired terrorists are being openly sold on Turkey’s largest e-commerce platform, n11.com, despite a ban issued by a Turkish judge in 2016.
An essay by Yemeni-American Anwar al-Awlaki, titled “44 Ways of Supporting Jihad” (Cihadı Desteklemenin 44 Yolu in the version translated into Turkish) was published by Küresel Kitap, a media outlet known to publish and distribute literature in Turkish by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The book was for sale on the N11.com website as of May 27, 2019 when it was last accessed by Nordic Monitor.
The book was banned by a criminal court of peace judge in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mersin near the Syrian border on February 2, 2016. The judge’s order, numbered No. 2016/873, banned the sale and distribution of al-Awlaki’s book and authorized the police to collect all editions of it from retail outlets. Yet N11.com allowed its platform to sell the book in defiance of the judgement and also permitted bookseller KampanyalıKitaplar to continue to distribute and sell the book.
The e-commerce website n11.com was established in 2012 in Istanbul as a joint venture between the Doğuş Group, a pro-Recep Tayyip Erdoğan business conglomerate run by Ferit Şahenk, and the SK Group, the South Korean telecom giant. The website boasts over 6 million customers and some 100,000 professional sellers.
Al-Awlaki was believed to be the cleric who inspired Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman in the November 5, 2009 shootings that killed 12 US soldiers and a doctor at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as it landed in Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009, was reportedly one of al-Awlaqi’s students. Al-Awlaqi was killed in a US drone attack in 2011.
N11.com uses its platform for the sale of other jihadist books as well, an investigation by Nordic Monitor, showed. For example, the book titled “Lovers of the Paradise Maidens” (Hurilerin Aşıkları in Turkish), written by Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a Palestinian cleric and founding member of al-Qaeda, was also offered for sale on the site. Azzam, described as the Father of Global Jihad, reached out to Turkish youth through translated works such as this book, which memorializes the lives of more than 150 Mujahideen who died in the Soviet–Afghan jihad. He was killed in 1989.
The judge’s order in the ban for the sale and distribution al-Awlaki’s book also includes this book by Azzam on the list of prohibited books. Yet multiple sellers listed the book for sale on N11.com, and some even offered a discounted price.
In contrast to the jihadist books that are freely circulated in Turkey, the Erdoğan government has been cracking down on journalists, authors and publishers who were involved in producing legitimate works that are critical of it. Nearly 200 journalists are behind bars in Turkey on fabricated terrorism charges as of today, while the government has seized more than 150 media outlets, publishing houses and bookstores on charges of involvement in producing critical publications.