Turkish media on Thursday revealed that the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist who in a video on Monday called to "conquer" Istanbul while branding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a "traitor" is in fact a candy seller.
The daily Vatan reported that the man codenamed "Abu Ammar," who appears in the video speaking in Turkish and accusing Erdogan of "befriending the Jews" and making the country "slaves" to the "crusaders" – namely the US – is in fact Fatih Acipayam, a 47-year-old confectionary seller.
Acipayam, who hails from Turkey's northwestern province of Bursa in the Gursu district, is married and a father to four daughters, reports the Hurriyet Daily News.
According to his neighbors, he is "harmless." They reported hearing rumors that he crossed into Syria to join ISIS, but said he wasn't a particularly devout Muslim before moving to Bursa from Kahramanmaras, a southeastern province where he was raised.
"Before he moved to Bursa, he wouldn’t even perform salah (daily Muslim prayers – ed.). His transformation happened here. At first, he wouldn’t even enter the mosque. He sold his confectionaries at the mosque’s entrance," claimed a relative.
According to an acquaintance of Acipayam, he was detained three years ago and later released. "Police knew about them (radical Islamists) and kept them under surveillance. The Wahhabis (followers of an orthodox branch of Sunni Islam – ed.) could deceive them because their theological knowledge is inadequate."
Reportedly Acipayam left for Syria in 2014 with his family, carrying 100,000 Turkish Liras (around $33,800) with them after selling all their property.
Previously Turkey was shown to be cooperating with ISIS, but last month it started a crackdown on the group following a lethal suicide attack, and likewise launched a much harsher crackdown on Kurdish militants.