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January 13, 2015 Off

New ISIS Threat Campaign Capitalizes on Paris Attacks

Image from Twitter campaign

Image from Twit­ter campaign

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has launched a new cam­paign on Twit­ter call­ing for addi­tional home­grown attacks in West­ern coun­tries in the after­math of the attacks in Paris last week that killed 17.

The cam­paign, adver­tised with the hash­tag #Fight­forHim was espe­cially promi­nent on Twit­ter on Sun­day, when both offi­cial ISIS accounts and mul­ti­ple sup­porter accounts Tweeted images fea­tur­ing mes­sages to Mus­lims “liv­ing in the West” and quotes by Anwar al-Awlaki advo­cat­ing “the duty of killing those who insult our Prophet Muhammad.”

Awlaki was an Amer­i­can pro­pa­gan­dist for Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula. He was killed in a drone strike in 2011 but his writ­ings and say­ings con­tinue to be a moti­va­tional force for extrem­ists, includ­ing the Kouachi broth­ers, who are believed to have been two of the three indi­vid­u­als who attacked the Char­lie Hebdo offices last week, and Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be one of the two indi­vid­u­als behind last week’s hostage inci­dent in a kosher gro­cery store in Paris.

At the same time, ISIS sup­port­ers are also con­tin­u­ing a cam­paign of hack­ing Jew­ish insti­tu­tional web­sites and, increas­ingly, sites that are affil­i­ated with gov­ern­ments, mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions, and other orga­ni­za­tions, replac­ing the orig­i­nal text on the site with anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist mes­sages. Mon­day after­noon, ISIS sup­port­ers claimed respon­si­bil­ity for hack­ing the social media accounts affil­i­ated with U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

One of the Tweets from the #Fight­forHim cam­paign fea­tures a red ban­ner image with the quote, “You are a Mus­lim? Liv­ing in the West? Being a city wolf is your task! For you are the only ones to do so! You are already ’cit­i­zens’, and no doubt you are the suit­able ones to be cho­sen for such a task. You are shar­ing the same land with them! The same busses and trains, the same neighborhoods!”

Sev­eral Tweets also fea­tured what appeared to be pages ready for inser­tion into an English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine that quoted Anwar al-Awlaki nar­rat­ing a story about a “Jew­ish leader and…very elo­quent poet” who wrote poems that spoke out against Muham­mad, after which he was killed. In the story, Muham­mad stated, “I am the Prophet of mercy and I am the prophet of war” and “he has harmed us and he has defamed us with his poetry, and none of you (Jews) would do this except we would deal with him with the sword!”

Image from Twitter campaign showing Anwar al-Awlaki

Image from Twit­ter cam­paign show­ing Anwar al-Awlaki

The three pages that make up this story are titled Char­lie, ref­er­enc­ing the mag­a­zine. In its sub­ject mat­ter, the story also can be read as sup­port­ing attacks on Jews more broadly.

These images and oth­ers were Tweeted directly from mul­ti­ple indi­vid­ual Twit­ter accounts. This may indi­cate that they were part of a coor­di­nated cam­paign run through the Dawn of Glad Tid­ings app, a Twit­ter appli­ca­tion that allows ISIS to Tweet directly onto users’ pages, thus rapidly and widely dis­sem­i­nat­ing pro­pa­ganda and enabling effec­tive hash­tag cam­paigns. Some of the images were Tweeted from between 80 and 100 accounts in minutes.

The cam­paign was sup­ple­mented by an essay writ­ten by an ISIS sup­porter that urged attacks in West­ern coun­tries and pro­vided sug­ges­tions for car­ry­ing them out.

The essay cites Inspire mag­a­zine, Anwar al-Awlaki, Osama bin Laden and ISIS as sources for inspi­ra­tion and lists mul­ti­ple cities, states, and coun­tries that can be attacked, includ­ing mul­ti­ple loca­tions in the U.S.

“Until life in Nor­way, Florida, Mon­treal, Fin­land, Lis­bon, Lux­em­bourg and Can­berra becomes…a land that burns, a sky that rains rock­ets, and cities through which wolves walk, the lions of jihad, and where breaths are con­ceal (sic) until they taste our sever­ity” it states. The essay later threat­ens addi­tional attacks includ­ing San Fran­cisco, Bel­gium, Lon­don, Madrid, Syd­ney, Rus­sia, Boston, Dal­las, Vir­ginia and Ams­ter­dam with explo­sive devices, booby traps and poison.

This essay was picked up and cir­cu­lated by offi­cial ISIS media out­lets fol­low­ing its post­ing on, an online pub­lish­ing site reg­u­larly used by ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers to quickly and anony­mously post text and images online.

Although the #fight­forHim hash­tag is new, calls by ter­ror­ist groups for home­grown attacks have a lengthy his­tory. In the past year, ISIS, Al Qaeda, AQAP and Al Shabaab have all called for such attacks. In the wake of the attacks in France, addi­tional groups includ­ing the Pak­istani Tal­iban, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Moura­bitoun have also called for copy­cat attacks.

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February 8, 2012 Off

Boko Haram’s Capabilities Pose Threat Outside Nigeria

In the lat­est demon­stra­tion of its evolv­ing capa­bil­i­ties, Boko Haram, a mil­i­tant group seek­ing to cre­ate an Islamic state in Nige­ria, claimed respon­si­bil­ity on Tues­day for car­ry­ing out a sui­cide car bomb­ing at the Niger­ian mil­i­tary head­quar­ters in the north-central city of Kaduna and another bomb­ing at a nearby airbase.
The tac­tic employed at the mil­i­tary head­quar­ters – a sui­cide bomber dressed as a mem­ber of the mil­i­tary – may demon­strate the con­tin­u­ing influ­ence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s affil­i­ates in North Africa and Soma­lia, on the group’s oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ties. AQIM and Al Shabaab’s grow­ing ties to Boko Haram also raises the specter that the group may seek to emu­late their strat­egy of under­tak­ing inter­na­tional attacks tar­get­ing West­ern interests.
Although the group has not car­ried out attacks out­side Nige­ria, Boka Haram has expressed intent to expand its tar­gets glob­ally, includ­ing the United States. Fol­low­ing its August 2011 bomb­ing of a United Nations build­ing in the Niger­ian cap­i­tal of Abuja, mul­ti­ple Boko Haram lead­ers cited oppo­si­tion to West­ern pow­ers as the dri­ving fac­tor behind the attack. In a March 2010 inter­view with West­ern media, a man claim­ing to be a Boko Haram spokesman iden­ti­fied the U.S. as “the num­ber one tar­get for its oppres­sion and aggres­sion against Mus­lim nations… and its blind sup­port to Israel.”

The threat posed by Boko Haram has not gone unno­ticed. Gen­eral Carter Ham, com­mand­ing offi­cer of the United States Africa Com­mand (AFRICOM), has indi­cated that he believes Boko Haram poses a threat to the United States and U.S. inter­ests. In Novem­ber 2011, Con­gress held a hear­ing on the threat posed by the group “to the U.S. Home­land.”  West African nations have also held regional secu­rity sum­mits con­cern­ing Boko Haram’s abil­ity to act beyond Nigeria’s bor­ders, con­cen­trat­ing on its links to other ter­ror­ist organizations.

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