Analysis: ‘Signs of Recovery for the Islamic State’

Henry Jackson Society, by Kyle Orton, April 22, 2017:

The operation to clear the Islamic State (IS) from its Iraqi capital, Mosul, began on 17 October and is now 188 days old. IS was announced cleared from east Mosul on 25 January, and the offensive that began on 19 February to clear the more densely-populated and difficult west Mosul has ostensibly swept IS from sixty percent of that area. Official sources claim IS now controls less than seven percent of Iraqi territory, down from forty percent in 2014. But yesterday, a car bomb struck Zuhur, the first attack of this kind in east Mosul since February, murdering at least four people. This is part of a pattern of attacks that suggests the Mosul operation itself was rushed and more importantly that IS is already recovering in liberated areas.

OUT BUT NOT DOWN

When the Mosul offensive began, there was reason to worry that the timing was more political than it was determined by facts on the ground. Towns like Qayyara and Shirqat, which had been formally cleared of jihadists and were being used as launchpads for the assault on Mosul, were under constant harassment from the rural surroundings. More important is Hawija, which IS continues to hold.

Hawija, a town of about 200,000 people, fell to IS on 16 June 2014, after Mosul collapsed on 10 June and IS swept across northern and central Iraq. Located one-hundred miles south-east of Mosul, and roughly equidistant—forty miles or so—east of Shirqat and west of Kirkuk, with Bayji and Tikrit within sixty miles to the south, Hawija sits in a prime location to cause mayhem behind the lines, and has done so. IS is able to organize attacks from Hawija, and then fall back to safe-haven in the city. Days into the Mosul operation, IS executed a major raid in Kirkuk that killed dozens of people; the jihadists that did not blow themselves up slipped back into Hawija. This has happened despite the Kurdish Peshmerga having imposed a siege last August and blocked the four city gates.

In simple military terms, Hawija should have been cleared before Mosul, and now there are new worries. The recent announcement, which might well prove untrue, that IS’s occupation of Hawija, an overwhelmingly Sunni Arab town, will soon be brought to an end by al-Hashd al-Shabi, the conglomeration of Shi’i militias where Iranian proxies are the backbone, and the Kurdish Peshmerga, would continue one of the worst aspects of the campaign against IS, namely the use of demographically inappropriate forces to cleanse local areas that has meant IS’s military losses are not political losses.

Further to the east in Iraq, on the provincial boundary line between Saladin and Diyala, there is even more trouble as documented in an important recent report by Niqash. IS’s strategic depth is in the rural areas where it rode out defeat after 2008, a lesson it has taken into its foreign wilayats like Libya. The Jalam desert to the east Samarra—abutted by the Hamrin mountains to the north that stretch east into Diyala and west to the Tigris in Ninawa—with ad-Dawr to the south-east of Tikrit is a near-perfect location for IS. It was from the Jalam desert that IS invaded into Samarra in June 2014.

“The difficult terrain and long stretches of unpopulated land that straddle several provinces make this territory excellent for hiding, or for the establishment of secret bases,” Niqash notes. “[T]he IS fighters who are locals know the caves and valleys well and they know it would be very difficult to hunt them down here, if not impossible.” From these bases, IS have already managed to cut the road between Tikrit, the administrative centre of Saladin Province, and Kirkuk City. The area between Hawija and Kirkuk is known as the “death strip”. There have been many small raids, as well as some more significant ones, such as IS demolishing the police station in Albu Khado, which killed a number of people, or the attack on a police station in the village of Nayeb. To the west, there is the mountainous Makhul area, north of Bayji, where IS attacks at will, and the Iraqis are well aware that IS cells are spread all throughout Saladin and Diyala.

One special problem the Iraqis are having is Mutaibij, a remote village about twenty miles east of Duluiyah near the Udhaim River in the Euphrates River Valley. Mutaibij was occupied by Albu Issa tribesmen, who were opposed to IS, and now the village is abandoned. Despite four sweeps, however, the Iraqi Security Forces can never capture or kill any IS members when they move in. It has “become a mysterious place,” says local policeman Ziyad Khalaf. “Every time we raid that village, we don’t find anybody there. Then a few hours later, we are attacked again and we lose men.”

In the west of Iraq, along the Euphrates River Valley, where Anbar Province borders Syria’s Deir Ezzor Province, an IS-held zone the group calls Wilayat al-Furat (Euphrates Province), the terror group now has its centre of gravity. As Raqqa comes under pressure, IS has moved the bulk of its administration to Mayadeen in eastern Syria, seventy miles up-river from al-Qaim, long a main gateway for IS jihadists flowing into Iraq from Syria. “We are always under threat from the Islamic State group,” says an Iraqi border guard. “The danger doesn’t end when we arrive at our barracks. … [W]e are continuously losing men to the IS attacks. There are not enough soldiers or weapons to confront an enemy like this. They know that we are weak and they know the government is negligent.” Unlike the areas mentioned above, this desert wilderness has not yet even been nominally cleared and it remains to be seen if it can be. Until then, IS is able to use this base to strike at areas that have been cleared, like Rutba and Heet and devastated cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, with bombings and assassinations.

HISTORY AS A GUIDE TO THE FUTURE

In 2007-08, IS had been politically isolated and militarily driven from its cities by the Surge and Sahwa. Throughout 2010, the organization’s leadership structure was nearly destroyed. Yet in 2011, the IS movement was into a recovery—so much so it dispatched operatives into Syria to form a secret branch. By 2013, even as it underwent a schism with its Syrian wing, IS had nearly eliminated the Sahwa and launched a campaign of terrorism, particularly against the prisons, that freed important operatives, and seriously destabilized the Iraqi government. The heavy-handed reaction of the government, and its increased reliance on Iran, only fed IS. How had IS recovered in just five years?

Western inattentiveness was certainly part of it: the belief the Surge was a done deal rather than a process to be maintained. The political disengagement after 2009 allowed the worst, most sectarian and authoritarian instincts of the Iraqi Prime Minister free rein, polarizing the Sunni community, and IS reaped the benefits of that. IS did also realize it had made mistakes; it reassessed some tactics, especially in dealing with the tribes, though maintained remarkable continuity in ideology.

Still, the major part of the answer to IS’s resilience lies, as Craig Whiteside has written, in its deeply bureaucratic structure and strategic outlook that gives it the ability to wage a Mao-style revolutionary warfare. IS has proven capable of moving through the three stages: an infiltration and building stage by terror and inducement; expansion with terrorist and insurgent tactics; and then into the decisive phase of governance and state administration. Just as importantly, IS can move back through the stages when necessary. [emphasis added]

This means IS’s loss of territory should not be seen as the sole measure of how this war is going. What is needed in a revolutionary war is legitimacy over the long-term; if military defeats contain political victories, they can be absorbed, which is why IS has chosen simply to retreat in most areas before the attacks on its capitals. Fallujah was a classic case: IS held about two-thirds of the city; after evidence of atrocities by the Shi’a militias appeared, giving IS a political win, it pulled out within five days. The U.S.’s narrow focus on defeating IS, with the mistaken emphasis on when IS is defeated rather than how, has meant supporting Iranian-run Shi’a militias in Iraq and the PKK in Syria, playing into IS’s hands, legitimizing the group even as it loses territory, and assisting IS becoming a global movement that can mobilize its supporters abroad for external attacks.

The holding of a specific territory has never been the basis of IS’s legitimacy. Over the last year, IS has crystallized this view that the caliphate is more a cause than a destination, presenting the impending loss of its twin capitals, Mosul and Raqqa, as merely one stage in a cycle, part of the travails of the believers—a gift from god, indeed—to purify the herd before final victory. After inflicting terrible losses on the infidels, the jihadists will “retreat into the desert” temporarily, as they did last time only with hideouts stretching into Syria this time as well, and come back stronger, IS says. Given the conditions—no major U.S. troop presence on the ground; massive destruction, displacement, and persecution in the Sunni areas; heightened sectarianism; dysfunctional political systems all across the Fertile Crescent—IS’s belief that trends are on its side even more than in 2008 cannot be dismissed as self-serving delusion. In some areas those trends toward IS’s recovery are already becoming a reality.

France Identifies 39-Year-Old Suspected Islamist Who Had Shot Officers Before as Paris Attacker

THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty

Breitbart, by Oliver Lane April 21, 2017:

French media have identified a French citizen as the dead suspect after his attack on a police patrol on the Champs Élysées which saw one police officer killed and two others injured.

A so-called ‘suspected Islamist’ went on a rampage in Paris Thursday evening, the third terror attack in France in 2017 so far. Local media has identified 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi as the man who was shot dead by police after a running attack against officers with a Kalashnikov-style rifle.

French newspaper Le Monde reports that whilst the identity has not yet been officially confirmed, the individual named is a native of the riot-hit migrant suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis and was considered by the security services as an “excessively dangerous” individual.

Already jailed for 15 years in 2005 for attempted murder after shooting at police officers, Cheurfi had come under investigation again in March 2017 for using social media apps to communicate his desire to kill officers. In addition to his previous conviction for attacking police, he was also known to the force for other criminality including theft and violence.

Three relatives of the suspected killer were arrested by French security services immediately after the attack. A search of the perpetrator’s car, from which he disembarked before opening fire, revealed knives and a pump-action shotgun.

A second suspect handed himself over to police in Belgium on Friday morning. Described as “very dangerous”, police discovered firearms in a search of the man’s domestic address.

The victim of Thursday’s attack has also been identified in French media as 37-year-old Xavier Jugele. Le Parisien reports the officer, who was assigned to the public order and traffic division of Paris police, had been present at the re-opening concert of the Bataclan theatre in 2016, which had itself been the target of a significant terror attack in November 2015 in which 137 died across the city.

Speaking to People magazine at the time, the Jugele said: “I’m happy to be here… glad the Bataclan is re-opening. It’s symbolic. We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civil values. This concert is to celebrate life, to say no to terrorists.”

Many commentators have already remarked that the proximity of the attack to Sunday’s presidential election in France will likely influence the vote, with some remarking it could boost support for law and order and pro-border candidates. Not least amongst those is U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who was moved to remark: “The people of France will not take much more of this.”

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Islamic State seeking alliance with al Qaeda, Iraqi vice president says

A member of the Iraqi rapid response forces walks past a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, at a hospital damaged by clashes during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in the Wahda district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Reuters, by Babak Dehghanpisheh, April 17, 2017:

Islamic State is talking to al Qaeda about a possible alliance as Iraqi troops close in on IS fighters in Mosul, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi said in an interview on Monday.

Allawi said he got the information on Monday from Iraqi and regional contacts knowledgeable about Iraq.

“The discussion has started now,” Allawi said. “There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing Baghdadi and representing Zawahiri,” referring to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda.

Islamic State split from al Qaeda in 2014 and the two groups have since waged an acrimonious battle for recruits, funding and the mantle of global jihad. Zawahiri has publicly criticized Islamic State for its brutal methods, which have included beheadings, drownings and immolation.

It is unclear how exactly the two group may work together, Allawi said.

Islamic State blazed across large swathes of northern Iraq in 2014, leaving the Iraqi central government reeling. Baghdadi declared a caliphate over the territory the group controlled from the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul the same year, which also became a point of contention with al Qaeda.

Last October, Iraqi security forces and Shi’ite volunteer fighters, commonly referred to as the Popular Mobilization Units teamed up with an international coalition, including the United States, to drive Islamic State from of Mosul and the areas surrounding the city.

The group has been pushed out of the half of Mosul that lies east of the Tigris River, but Iraqi soldiers and their allies are now bogged down in tough fighting in the narrow streets of the Old City of Mosul, west of the river, according to Iraqi security officials .

Islamic State has used suicide bombers, snipers and armed drones to defend the territory under their control. The group has also repeatedly targeted civilians or used them as human shields during the fighting, according to Iraqi and American security officials.

The militant group has lost ground in Mosul but still controls the towns of Qaim, Hawija and Tal Afar in Iraq as well as Raqqa, their de facto capital in Syria.

Even if Islamic State loses its territory in Iraq, Allawi said, it will not simply go away.

“I can’t see ISIS disappearing into thin air,” Allawi said, referring to the group by a commonly used acronym. “They will remain covertly in sleeping cells, spreading their venom all over the world.”

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US military drops MOAB on Islamic State in Afghanistan

AP

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, April 13, 2017:

The US military dropped the “MOAB,” the GBU-34 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb which is better known as the “Mother of all Bombs,” on Islamic State fighters in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. The strike took place in Achin, the same district where a US special forces solider was killed last week.

From the US Forces Afghanistan press release:

At 7:32 pm local time today, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan conducted a strike on an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, as part of ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017.

The strike used a GBU-43 bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft. The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” said General John W. Nicholson, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

U.S. Forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. U.S. Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan.

US and Afghan forces have been attempting to clear the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province from Achin and several other districts in eastern Afghanistan for nearly two years, but like the Taliban in other areas of Afghanistan, the group remains entrenched. The deployment of the MOAB may indicate a degree of desperation in the fight against the Islamic State in Achin district. This is the first use of such a weapon, which is described as the largest bomb next to a nuke, in Afghanistan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

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6 Ways Russia May Respond to St. Petersburg Bombing

The aftermath of the subway bombing in St. Petersburg on April 3, 2017. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, April 4, 2017:

Russia says that the suspect behind a subway bombing in St. Petersburg that killed at least 11 people is from Central Asia and has links to radical Islamic terrorist groups. Here are six ways the Russian government may respond to the attack.

  1. Blame the West
    Why? Because that’s what the Russian government-controlled, conspiratorial media always does. In fact, Pravda almost immediately published this interview with the heading, “CIA Involved in St. Petersburg Terror Act?” The source was an individual with the background of “government and business consultant.”
  2. Double-Down on Alliances with Shiite Wing of Radical Islam
     Russia is a long-standing ally of the Shiite wing of radical Islam represented by the Iranian and Syrian regimes and their Hezbollah terrorist proxy. The civil war in Syria has tightened this alliance, making Russia a direct ally on the battlefield.If ISIS or any other jihadist group based in Syria is behind the bombing, Russia’s resolve to keep Assad in power and expand the regime’s territorial holdings will only stiffen. The bombing makes it less likely Russia will pressure Assad and his inner circle out of power (even if a pro-Russian regime remains), as that’ll give the appearance that Russia caved in to the jihadists.Expect Putin to tempt the West into a laxer policy towards Iran and Hezbollah, claiming that their anti-American hostility is a byproduct of U.S. aggression that will disappear when the U.S. changes its tune and abides by Russia’s strategy for the region.
  3. Use It as a Pretext for Action Against a Neighbor
    Putin has a dual strategy conquering neighboring territory under the guise of protecting and unifying Russian minorities while depicting Russia as the best hope of the civilized world as America declines.Putin has been setting the stage to once again seize Georgian territory ever since he had Russian forces rip away Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. Russia has been slowly taking more land, eliciting a condemnation from the European Union and a complaint from Georgia about “creeping annexation.”In March 2015, Vasil Rukhadze of the Jamestown Foundation warned that Russia “might be preparing for a final assault on Georgia.”Russia consistently accuses the pro-U.S. government of Georgia of responsibility for Islamist terrorist attacks on its soil. The Russian foreign minister said in January 2016 that ISIS has a training base in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia.The region is indeed a hotspot for ISIS recruitment, but the accusation that ISIS has a training base implies Georgian acquiescence.There are other neighbors that could be in Russia’s sights, but Georgia is most likely to be blamed for the bombing of the subway.
  4. Retaliate with Syrian Kurds
    Russia has been arming Syrian Kurdish forces that have a Marxist orientation and are accused of being part of the PKK terrorist group. Increased assistance and coordinated action with them is a likely form of retaliation.The Turkish government, which views PKK as a terrorist threat of the highest order, is furious about this but eager to grow its military ties with Russia.
  5. Increased Support to the Taliban in Afghanistan
    Senior U.S. military leaders say that Russia is backing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran is likewise helping the Taliban fight ISIS in Afghanistan.Increased support to the Taliban is an option for retaliating against ISIS (if ISIS is deemed responsible for orchestrating or inspiring the bombing) and also serves other interests.The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan believes Russia wants to undermine the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan.  Russia has also sided politically with the Taliban in opposing long-term agreements for U.S. and NATO involvement and demanding the departure of foreign forces from the country.
  6. Suppress Massive Protests
    Putin has been facing the biggest protests in five years with demonstrators fueled over frustration over corruption. The U.S. State Department condemned the arrests of hundreds of protestors, including a major opposition leader.Putin warned the protestors that they risked making Russia follow in the footsteps of the Arab Spring, referring to mass violence and chaos. He obviously wants to use national security as a justification for shutting down the opposition.

Both Russia and the West are threatened by Islamist terrorism and should be natural, full-fledged partners in this struggle against both Sunni and Shiite extremism. Unfortunately, Putin is—and always will be—a former KGB spymaster.

Not withstanding Russia’s pledge to join forces with Trump to fight terror, Putin’s intense desire to challenge the West means opportunities for international cooperation that would otherwise be obvious will be missed.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak please contact us.

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PC kills: Will the West ever wake up from delusional approach to jihad?

oneinchpunch | Shutterstock

Conservative Review, by Benjamin Weingarten, April 2, 2017:

A jihadist attacks individuals in the public square of a Western town.

The media refuses to provide a description of the attacker, reporting only the weapon he used.

A physical description of a man of African, South Asian, or Middle Eastern descent leaks out in the ensuing hours.

Law enforcement authorities deliver a press conference confirming the attacker’s Islamic name and stating that at this time, his motive is unclear.

Rumors on social media percolate about the man screaming “Allahu Akbar.”

Mainstream reporters ask local Muslim community leaders and neighbors about the attacker. They express universal shock, describing him as a decent man who might have been rough around the edges but never showed signs of being a terrorist. The man came from a middle-class family, liked playing video games with friends, and by all accounts lived a normal existence. Toward the end of the stories, those close to the attacker note that he had grown increasingly devout in recent years.

Bloggers begin to research and quickly find that the attacker was a member of a mosque led by an imam who had been recorded preaching hatred and violence toward the West. The attacker posted violent verses from the Quran and railed against the “Crusaders’” wars in the Levant on social media pages captured by screenshot before they were taken down. It emerges that he had spent months in the Middle East during recent years.

Several days later, law enforcement authorities report that the attacker in fact appears to have been a terrorist. But he had no direct ties to IS or Al-Qaeda, so there is no reason for alarm.

Politicians plead with the public that this man perverted one of the world’s great religions – Islam, “the religion of peace” – and that his acts were “non-Islamic.” They urge us all to come together in a shared belief in tolerance and diversity. Love trumps hate. Lone wolves are a fact of life, and their efforts only underscore the need for community engagement to “counter violent extremism.”

How many times are we in the West going to see the above script play out before something changes?

How long will we live a naïve fantasy in which we act as if all is well as the global jihadist movement metastasizes, bringing the violent murder of infidels to our shores?

If the murder of 3,000 innocents on American soil has not caused the West to openly and honestly examine who the enemy is and what animates him, and to develop a comprehensive strategy that mobilizes all of our resources and capabilities to defeat him, do we expect anything to change the next time we experience a mass attack?

Meanwhile, those who do understand the enemy are dismissed as cranks or called bigots. Those who assert that jihad is the motive – that violent subversion with the goal of world domination is justified by core Islamic texts, as the jihadists themselves clearly illustrate – are told to pipe down.

If you offend by speaking truth, you will cause violence. Shut up, and maybe you can keep your head.

Government service predicated on an understanding of the theopolitical Islamic supremacism that animates jihadists is simply out of the question. Heaven forbid that national security and foreign policy officials have any understanding of the Sharia law that both de facto and de jure governs the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

What will it take for the West to flip this script?

To date, murder, bloodshed, and fear abound. In spite of that fact, much of the West would rather cling to a narrative that makes it feel good about itself than recognize the reality of a global jihadist menace that threatens its very survival. This insane delusion will continue to have fatal consequences until we wake up.

Ben Weingarten is Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax and PJ Media on national security/defense, economics and politics. 

Islamic State propagandist was ‘brainwashing’ children, US military says

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, March 3, 2017:

The US military announced today that a senior Islamic State (ISIS) propaganda official was killed in an airstrike on Mar. 25 in Al-Qa’im, Iraq. The propagandist, Ibrahim al-Ansari, was killed along with “four of his associates,” according to Joe Scrocca, the public affairs director for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).

Al-Ansari “was a leader in producing and disseminating propaganda to direct, encourage and instruct terror attacks, as well as to recruit foreign terrorist fighters,” Scrocca said. He “promoted terror attacks against US and Turkish citizens” and was also responsible for “the brainwashing of young children to perpetuate ISIS’s brutal message,” Scrocca added.

The Islamic State is not only “brainwashing” children, but has also used dozens of them in suicide bombings, including during its defense of the city of Mosul. And the group openly boasts of using children in its vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks. See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State uses improvised weapons of war in Mosul, Iraq, for two photos of children recently used in VBIED operations. The Islamic State’s propaganda machine regularly produces many more examples.

Some of the organization’s gruesome videos also feature children performing executions on behalf of their elders.

Al-Ansari’s “propaganda encouraged ISIS followers to conduct knife attacks, vehicle attacks and arson attacks against American and other Western citizens,” Scrocca explained. “This strike will disrupt ISIS’s ability to create propaganda — propaganda to [incite] terror into the region as well as in our homeland, and has struck communications between other ISIS members.”

The US and its coalition partners have repeatedly targeted the jihadists’ senior media personnel. This effort goes back to the height of the Iraq War, when al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) became a prolific producer of videos, photos and other media. AQI and its successor, the Islamic State, have repeatedly replaced these propagandists. But the targeted strikes do, at times, slow the group’s ability to produce content.

Al-Ansari was not alone in promoting knife and vehicle attacks. This is one of the Islamic State’s long-standing themes.

For example, the group’s first spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, implored followers to use such crude tools in the West. “The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies,” Adnani said in one speech (titled, “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful”). Adnani continued: “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or
run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”

Adnani was killed in a US airstrike near Al Bab, Syria in Aug. 2016. Another jihadist, known as Abu al Hassan al Muhajir, was announced as Adnani’s successor in Dec. 2016. In his first message, al Muhajir promoted attacks Turkey and the West.

The Islamic State has continued to promulgate Adnani’s guidance long after his death. The third issue of Rumiyah (Rome) magazine, which was released in Nov. 2016, included an article devoted to vehicle attacks that was entitled, “Just Terror Tactics.” The author wrote: “Having a secondary weapon, such as a gun or a knife, is also a great way to combine a vehicle attack with other forms of attacks. Depending on what is obtained, the kill count can be maximized and the level of terror resulting from the attack can be raised.”

The so-called caliphate’s followers have apparently followed through with this advice on multiple occasions, sometimes using knives, trucks, or both. Just weeks after Rumiyah was published last November, a Somali refugee named Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his car into a crowd of people at Ohio State University before exiting the vehicle and using a knife to assault his victims. Eleven people were hospitalized as a result. Artan was quickly shot dead by a campus police officer. Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State’s main propaganda arm, claimed afterwards that Artan was a “soldier” of the caliphate.

On Mar. 22, Khalid Masood drove his car into a crowd near the British parliament in London and then jumped out and used a blade to assault others. Four people were killed and dozens more wounded. Amaq again claimed that Masood was a “soldier” of the caliphate. Still other Islamic State supporters have driven their vehicles into large gatherings elsewhere.

The Islamic State celebrates its media personnel as “martyrs” after they are killed either in combat, or in airstrikes by the US-led coalition. For instance, the two photos below purportedly depict members of the group’s propaganda division who were recently killed. The first one was identified Abu Ibrahim al-Iraqi.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

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