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July 30, 2014

ISIS Augments Its Threats Against Israel

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A graphic posted by Al-Minhaj Media states: “The Islamic State pounds the Zionist entity with rockets and will continue hitting their fortresses with a bloody clap that will worry them. We will raise the disgrace with our hands and with all our strength we will push them back.”

Since the start of the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda inspired terrorist organization based in Syria and Iraq, has used its media prowess to release a stream of threats against Israel while explaining to supporters that ISIS is currently unable to actively fight against Israel.

In the second issue of ISIS’s English language magazine Dabiq, released July 27, 2014, it clearly explained this position, while wasting no words in espousing its intentions against Israel:

“As for the massacres taking place in Gaza against the Muslim men, women, and children…” read the magazine’s forward, “the Islamic State will do everything within its means to continue striking down every apostate who stands as an obstacle on its path towards Palestine. It is not the manner of the Islamic State to throw empty, dry, and hypocritical words of condemnation and condolences like the Arab tawāghīt do in the UN and Arab League. Rather, its actions speak louder than its words and it is only a matter of time and patience before it reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric jews (sic) and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees – the trees of the jews (sic).”

The mention of gharqad trees refers to a hadith, a statement attributed to Mohammed, sometimes cited by extremists as an order to kill Jews.

Although threats against Israel make up a small portion of ISIS’s overall rhetoric, they are an ongoing element of the group’s overall messaging. Official ISIS media accounts included a number of graphics last month threatening Israel. Several similar graphics have been posted since, including an image of missiles pointing upward with the caption “The Islamic State pounds the Zionist entity with rockets and will continue hitting their fortresses with a bloody clap that will worry them. We will raise the disgrace with our hands and with all our strength we will push them back.”

Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts have also regularly reposted statements from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Ansar Jerusalem), a terrorist group based in Gaza and the Sinai that has proclaimed allegiance to ISIS. These have included statements of support as well as videos of attacks against Israel claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

Semi-official pro-ISIS Twitter accounts have added to the threats as well. For example, “The Light Series,” a group that distributes pro-ISIS videos to YouTube that has received high levels of acclaim from ISIS members and supporters online, has shared images of allegedly Palestinian children dressed as Hamas militants and a poster depicting a quote from Osama bin Laden saying, “Their rejection of Hamas after it had won the election confirms that there is a Crusader-Zionist war against Muslims.”

Similarly, the Twitter account “Prophet’s Khilafa,” an unofficial ISIS account that claims to be “dedicated to spreading the news of the Islamic State to the English speaking audience,” has posted images of destruction in Gaza and a series of posters depicting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as “Jews after emancipation involved in slave trade, women trafficking and prostitution.”

Individual supporters are also adding to the chorus. One image in particular depicts ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (now calling himself Caliph Ibrahim) standing in front of an ISIS flag and a pile of ruins, while the Dome of the Rock mosque (and in some versions also the Al Aqsa mosque) shine in the background. Posted on July 9th and in modified form on July 11th, the images have been shared on a number of pro-ISIS accounts.

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July 11, 2014

ISIS Weighs In On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Al-Battar Media tweet threatens: “Patience, Jews, our appointment is at al-Quds [Jerusalem] tomorrow, for the one who waits is close.”

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, an Al Qaeda inspired terrorist organization seeking to create an Islamic empire) gains confidence, territory and expands its extensive online presence, the terrorist group (and its supporters) are increasingly making threats against Israel in response to the ongoing conflict.

One of ISIS’ several media wings, Al-Battar Media, tweeted a series of graphics threatening Israel. One graphic posted July 9 shows storm clouds over Jerusalem with a warning: “Patience, Jews, our appointment is at al-Quds [Jerusalem] tomorrow, for the one who waits is close.” Another image posted the same day shows the Dome of the Rock mosque superimposed in front of militants and features the same language. 

ISIS’ Dawla Media Twitter feed, which regularly posts ISIS propaganda materials, tweeted a quoteon July 8 purportedly from a Hamas spokesman saying, “All our military operations till now are just [a] message for Israel.”

Dawla Media has also tweeted a statementon July 9 indicating that ISIS must fight the surrounding Arab states before it can attack Israel “because they are the protective fence supporting the Jews.”

Other statements have been tweeted from a feed associated with the pro-ISIS extremist forum “Al-Platform Media,” which has been tweeting statements by forum users. For example, one tweet from July linked to a conversation on the forum proclaiming, “Allah’s curse upon those of you who have made filth on the holy places. Zionist dogs…I would crucify you.”

ISIS’s online supporters are also tweeting their own threats. One supporter wrote that the kidnappings and deaths of the three Israeli teenagers Naf­tali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach would be the first of many such attacks. And at least one supporter posted the anti-Semitic “Khaybar” slo­gan evok­ing the story of slay­ing thou­sands of Jews from the tribe of Khaiber in Ara­bia 1400 years ago. The slogan has been retweeted and favorited by many ISIS supporters.

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ISIS map that reads, “We fight in Levantine and our eyes are dedicated towards beit al Maqdis [Jerusalem]”

ISIS propaganda targeting Israel is not without precedent. Even before the current conflict, maps distributed online by ISIS demonstrating its territorial ambitions regularly included Israel as part of the Islamic State. A map released by ISIS in March claimed that the organization held territory 220km away from Israel and threatened rocket attacks, saying, “We fight in the Levantine and our eyes are toward Jerusalem.”

A video released by ISIS last month before the current conflict included threats against Jews and Chris­tians to rally its militants. The video includes explicit anti-Jewish statements, including “Wherever our war goes, Jewish rabbis are humiliated.”

ISIS has a long history of threatening Israel. As early as 2005, the organization’s predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed at least 2 rocket attacks against Israel. In 2008, the organization’s leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi issued an audio statement calling for attacks on Israel and proposing to use Iraq as a “launching pad” for missile attacks against Israel.

ISIS has become well known for its sophisticated use of social media, where it disseminates propaganda, threatens western nations and enables supporters to take part in that process.

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June 27, 2014

ISIS Propaganda Campaign Threatens U.S.

Friday image one graphicThe Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced a new social media campaign this week designed to threaten the U.S. and warn it against sending military assistance to Iraq.

The campaign, “Warning to the American People,” is being organized on social media around the hashtag #CalamityWillBefallUS and is being directed through one of the many Twitter handles purportedly belonging to ISIS. Participants are encouraged to tweet using that hashtag in English or Arabic, although “tweeting in English is preferred.” Participants are also encouraged to repost officially sanctioned tweets that appear on the ISIS “union page” and use “photos of signs or designs with warning to Americans” when possible.

A number of images and slogans were pre-released beginning on June 24. These include images of the falling World Trade Center, quotes by the American Al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, and pictures of advancing ISIS fighters.

The official slogans feature threats against American invasion and a range of particularly inflammatory messages, including:

  • “If the United States bombs Iraq, every citizen is a legitimate target for us.”
  • “This is a message for every American citizen. You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are.”
  • “For every drop of blood shed of the Iraqis, Americans will shed a river of blood.”
  • “Every American doctor working in any country will be slaughtered if America attacks Iraq.”
  • “Don’t come to Iraq unless you want another 11th September to happen.”

ISIS is particularly adept at harnessing the power of social media. The organization maintains a variety of Twitter accounts in multiple languages and several ISIS regional groups maintain Twitter feeds as well. ISIS also runs an app that automatically directs its propaganda onto supporters’ accounts, significantly augmenting its message and reach.Terrorist exploitation of online forums has become an increasingly important element of the radicalization process in recent years.

In addition, ISIS regularly takes advantage of hashtags that enable ISIS’s message to trend on Twitter. It also maintains a Twitter feed dedicated to informing supporters of trending hashtags. Supporters can then tweet ISIS messages that will be viewed by anyone looking at a trending topic (for example: an ISIS user might post a pro-ISIS ISIS hashtag usemessage along with the hashtag “#worldcup” as demonstrated by the image at right).

The current campaign marks a departure from standard ISIS propaganda. The majority of ISIS’s past attention has been geared to bolstering its image and recruiting fighters; surprisingly little has been directed against the U.S. But ISIS has nonetheless always expressed anger and suspicion about U.S. policy. An April 2014 speech by the group’s main spokesman, for example, conflated the U.S. with Satan, saying, “Yes, verily the plot of Shaytan [Satan] is weak. America came to Iraq leading a frenzied crusade….The Crusaders thought that no one would be able to overcome them; however Allah the Mighty and Majestic disgraced them and showed us the weakness of their plot.” In the same speech, he claimed that ISIS “is America’s toughest enemy.”

In addition to Twitter, the “Warning to the American People” campaign is being posted on Facebook, in YouTube videos, and on various extremist forums.

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