ISIS in the Caribbean

Full Measure, October 14, 2018:

President Trump frequently says the US and its allies, have turned the tide in the battle against ISIS… especially, in the Middle East. But there’s another concern, much closer to home. In the last few weeks, the U-S government announced sanctions against two men for providing support to ISIS… both, were from a small Caribbean island near America’s shores. And to the surprise of many, it’s become a hotbed of support and recruitment, for the terror group.

From the battlefields of Syria to Iraq, in the fog of war, it can be difficult for American forces to know exactly who they’re up against–since foreign fighters supporting ISIS, have come from all over the world. Here, on this tiny Caribbean island, a not so small secret. In relation to its size, Trinidad and Tobago has sent more foreign fighters overseas, than any other western country. We went to this tourist destination just off the coast of Venezuela, to find out why.

Scott: Are there those who have gone, that you’re aware of as foreign fighters?

Abdullah: There are those who have gone and joined the battle of course. All right. Those individuals, I know some of them.

Umar Abdullah is a self-proclaimed Muslim leader in Trinidad…Accused of once helping to radicalize young men.

Scott: Do you believe it’s okay for them to go overseas and take up arms against American interests?

Abdullah: If, in the case where America is fighting our Muslim brothers and sisters in different countries, and individuals decide to leave and go there to fight against the American soldiers, that’s their call, right?

Scott: A lot of people hearing that, especially back in the United States, would find that a detestable comment. They wouldn’t be okay with any of what you just said.

Abdullah: So does the American people, the American government wish that when they go into a country and invade a country and starts fighting the people there, the people should just lay down and kneel before them and surrender? That’s what they expect what’s gonna happen? That’s not gonna happen. Let us be real. People are going to fight back.

And doing so, in alarming numbers. According to multiple reports, 135 Trinidadians have made their way to the Middle East. They’ve been documented taking up arms against Americans… and even dying in the fight. One of the first, was Shane Crawford. The 28 year old joined ISIS in Syria. Where the terror group used him in propaganda videos because of his English and his origin, even featuring his Trinidadian home in their online recruiting magazine. Imam Morland Lynch says he knows half a dozen men like Shane, who have since joined ISIS overseas.

Morland Lynch: He was quiet, but you never know when a man quiet what they’re planning, or what they’re thinking, or who’s giving them their school of thought, who’s teaching them or who’s training them.

Lynch preaches a different message. One of peace. He is critical of ISIS and its followers on the island. One of them, he says, retaliated, shooting and killing his 22 year old son Ackmal. That was three years ago. The problem, he says, has only grown.

Scott: Some people have reported, 135 Trinidadians have left and gone overseas as foreign fighters, do you think that number is high, low, accurate?

Lynch: I feel more than that.

Scott: You feel it’s more than 135?

Lynch: Yeah, I feel more than that.

Scott: Because the attorney general and the government seems to think it’s a relatively low number. Lynch: No, it’s huge. I don’t know where you’re getting your statistics from, it’s huge.

Al-rawi: That of course is on a population bed of 1.4 million citizens, but sometimes statistics don’t really let you know the phenomenon. You can say 100% of a teacup, or you can say 100% of the ocean.

While Trinidad’s attorney general, Faris Al-rawi, downplays the numbers, he doesn’t trivialize the threat, and under his watch, the government has passed stricter new anti-terrorism laws and frozen the assets of 356 individuals and entities.

Al-rawi: I can tell you that we have put it on steroids. We really ramped up the production. I think we’re headed in the right direction. Terrorism mutates, you must be always nimble and always prepared. We will not stick our heads into the sand and pretend that the phenomenon is one that can avoid us simply because we’re a beautiful people and wonderful Caribbean island.

The danger, isn’t just abroad. This February, Trinidad’s law enforcement, with U.S. Support, thwarted a plot to attack the island’s biggest annual festival, it’s carnival. The American embassy, was also a target. Police and security specialist Paul Nahous has long been monitoring the spread and actions of ISIS sympathizers here. He claims, they’re gearing up.

Nahous: What I observe in Trinidad is that the gangs now are starting look less like gangs and more like terrorists cells or insurgent cells because these type of weapons they have, the amount of ammunition they have stockpiled. They’ve been finding grenades all around. They’ve been finding AK-47 rounds, AR-15 is the new pistol now. All gangs have a stockpile of automatic weapons. So, the street violence now is beginning to resemble insurgency.

Scott: Does the government have a grip on what’s happening here?

Nahous: No, not at all. The government doesn’t have a grip and the police services don’t have a grip.

Just how severe the problem is and how prevalent recruitment may be differs depending on who you ask. But one consensus found among people we talked to, is that more U.S. Involvement is welcome. Earlier this year, the U.S. Military’s southern command, which helps oversee threats in the Caribbean, held a joint exercise with Trinidad’s forces to prepare for terror incidents.

Al-rawi: Can we happily say that we accept more? We’re always willing to accept more from our international friends Scott: Though solutions here seem outnumbered by the challenges. Despite the island’s lucrative oil reserves, wealth isn’t well spread. Unemployment is high, street crime too. And the tiny Muslim population, just about 5 percent, feels shut out. One gang even named itself Unruly ISIS. Online sermons from terror groups thousands of miles away, still prove persuasive here.

Abdullah: I’m fearful when that time comes, the government who is already showing indications that they’re unable to address the issue of crime, petty crime, they’ll be unable to address this issue.” Scott: Talk to me about that anti-American sentiment.

Nahous: There are those who don’t sympathize with terrorist cells, but at the same time have an anti-American sentiment and anti-Israeli sentiment and because we see what’s going on in the world, we see certain injustices done by first world nations.

Scott: And that’s what’s driving some of this recruitment?

Nahous: Yup, I think so. And I think it’s two sides of the same coin. They have that sentiment and anti-western sentiment, and then they have a lack of real knowledge in terms of the Middle East, in terms of what goes on there, in terms of culture there. So, what they know is what they read, what they see on tv. So they use that to formulate their opinions and I find in this nation that people are very hardened by their opinions.

Scott: An opinion both posing a threat to U.S. Soldiers overseas… and formulating, not far, from American shores.

President Trump’s new ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Joseph Mondello, is due to take up his post next week. At his confirmation hearing in the summer, he said radicalization and ISIS recruitment of Trinidadians is the most important issue he’ll face.

U.S. Is Top Target as ISIS Terror Plots Soar

Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, October 5, 2018:

The United States has emerged as the terror group ISIS’s top target, with 30 percent of the group’s recent plots centering on America, including 33 terror attempts in just the first part of 2018, according to a new congressional report.

ISIS-backed terrorists have attempted to launch at least 73 attacks on the American homeland since 2017, according to a comprehensive report released Friday by the House Homeland Security Committee.

ISIS continues to be the preeminent terror faction across the globe and is linked to 142 plots, including arrest and attacks targeting Westerners over the past two years, according to the report. ISIS has been tied to a total of 243 terror plots since 2014, or about “five terrorist incidents per month” according to the report.

There is no sign ISIS terror plots are on the decline, according to the report, which found a 63 percent increase in ISIS terrorism during the past two years.

The plots include those organized by at least 22 teenagers, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, a statistic that could provide the Trump administration further ammunition as it seeks to limit the number of refugees permitted into America from Middle East hotspots.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after a period of silence, has appeared back on the grid encouraging followers to strike America and its allies.

Baghdadi, in a recent speech reviewed by the committee, “not only offered definitive proof he is still alive—citing recent tensions between the United States and Turkey—he downplayed ISIS’ territorial losses and emphasized the importance of homeland attacks in the West to the overall strategy and long-term success of ISIS.”

“Carry out an attack that breaks their heart, and rip them apart, either with gunfire, or a stab to their bodies, or a bombing in their countries, for this is equal to a thousand operations here,” Baghdadi was quoted as saying in an August 2018 speech marking his return to the public forefront. “Do not forget about running people over on the roads. Ignite your fight, so that Crusaders will feel its flames.”

As the Trump administration targets ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and other countries—devastating the group and wrenching from it control of key territories—ISIS has shown that it can still organize terror attacks abroad, particularly in the United States and European nations.

“Since the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State declared its self-proclaimed caliphate and Baghdadi appeared at the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, Iraq, to declare himself the ‘Caliph Ibrahim,’ ISIS has lost nearly 98 percent of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria,” the report noted.

“Most of these losses have occurred over the last two years, but despite its setbacks, ISIS and its adherents have been linked to 142 incidents—arrests, plots, and attacks—targeting Westerners or the West over the last two years,” the report states.

“That compares to 101 ISIS-linked incidents reported in House Homeland’s ‘Terror Gone Viral’ report released in 2016,” according to the report. “Cumulatively, over the 2014 to 2018 period covered by the Terror Gone Viral reports, ISIS has been linked to 243 incidences, averaging five terrorist incidents per month.”

ISIS continues to recruit followers via online websites and social networking applications.

The report’s findings show “that despite ISIS’ battlefield losses, the group remains a potent threat in large part due to the viral success of its online propaganda and ‘how to’ efforts,” the report warns.

Also see:

Islamic State Finds A Familiar Place To Regroup With Devastating Effects

Daily Caller, by Joshua Gill, September 18, 2018:

  • ISIS’s Libyan branch has regenerated after two years of regrouping near the Tunisian border.
  • The militants have waged over a dozen attacks against militia groups, security forces, and oil facilities, posing a threat to the countries crude oil supply to Europe.
  • The group’s resurgence largely follows the 2017 predictions of terrorism analysts, some of whom theorized that ISIS would try to destabilize surrounding countries by unleashing a mass migration from Libya.

The Islamic State has reared its ugly head in Libya once more, conducting over a dozen attacks, drawing recruits, and threatening Libya’s oil production.

The terrorist group re-emerged in the country in early 2018, two years after the Libyan National Army, backed by U.S. airstrikes, drove ISIS out of their stronghold in the town of Sirte. The militants regrouped in remote desert hideouts and, buoyed by funds and taxes stolen from Sirte’s treasury, have waged a series of attacks that not only threatens to disrupt the flow of oil from one of Africa’s richest oil reserves, but could also destroy the country’s fragile potential for recovery from civil war. (RELATED: Former Anti-Nuclear Peace Activist Sentenced For Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attacks)

The terrorist group has claimed responsibility for attacks on rival militia groups, Libyan security forces, and the May bombing of the headquarters of the Libyan election commission. They also attacked Libya’s state oil company with gunmen and suicide bombers last week, killing two employees.

“They use these attacks to show they’re back in business, to rebrand themselves, to draw recruits,” Frederic Wehrey, a Libya expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Wall Street Journal. “The best recruiter for the Islamic State in Libya is political turmoil, political infighting. When Libya is divided, that gives room for the Islamic State to grow.”

While the attack on the state oil company did not disrupt oil production, it did temporarily drive up oil prices worldwide and also deepened concerns that potential supply disruptions in Libya would add to those already happening in Venezuela and Iran. Given the fact that Libya provides high quality crude oil to European countries, the country’s oil facilities are all the more appealing to ISIS as potential targets. ISIS has, in fact, said as much.

“We stress that the oil fields supporting the Crusaders and their projects in Libya are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen,” an ISIS communiqué concerning the attack on the state oil company read.

ISIS’ resurgence in the region is anything but unexpected, given analysts’ observations from as early as 2017 that the militants were regrouping in towns along the Tunisian border. Their attacks on Libya’s oil facilities lend further credence to the 2017 prediction of Joseph Fallon, Islamic Extremism expert and U.K. Defense Forum research associate, who said that ISIS would likely take advantage of the chaos in Libya to carry out such attacks.

Fallon predicted that ISIS would use the attacks on the oil facilities and ports “to unleash a mass migration of people to destabilize neighboring countries and Europe,” according to Fox News.

While ISIS’ new series of attacks has aided the militants’ recruitment efforts, so too has their resources stolen from Sirte and their more recent source of funds  from a protection racket for human traffickers. ISIS’ resources in the region mean that they can afford to pay their recruits better than local militias and can pay theirs and, as long as Libya’s security forces are locked in the chaos of civil war, ISIS’ swelling ranks can operate in the country with relative impunity.

Understanding ISIS and al Qaeda

Critical Threats, by Mary Habeck, September 10, 2018: (H?T Bill Warner)

Explanations for why the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda have strengthened since 2011 include the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the failure of local governments and of coalitions and outside forces, the failure of the United States or its withdrawal from the Middle East, or societal fissures. Yet all of these explanations fail to consider the plans and actions of Salafi-jihadi groups and actors themselves.

This briefer seeks to provide the fundamentals on Salafi-jihadi groups both organizationally and as fighting groups.

Table of Contents

◊ What Has Gone Wrong Since 2011?
◊ The Usual Explanations
◊ What Are al Qaeda and ISIS Organizationally?
◊ Al Qaeda and ISIS Geographical Organization
◊ Al Qaeda and ISIS as Fighting Organizations
◊ The Strategy of al Qaeda and ISIS
◊ Military Objectives
◊ Religio-Political Objectives

Battered in MidEast, ISIS Spreads Its Tentacles Worldwide

Clarion Project, by Joan Swart, September 11, 2018:

Following spectacular ambitions and lofty successes of controlling between 20,000 and 35,000 fighters, a taxable population of seven to eight million, a land area the size of Britain in Iraq and Syria, and access to $ 1.7 billion in cash by mid-2014, the scale of ISIS’ decline was even more impressive. By October 2017, its last stronghold, Raqqa, the Syrian town that was once the de facto political capital of the self-declared caliphate, fell in an operation led by the Syrian Democratic Forces. These relentless military campaigns forced the Islamic State into increasingly diminished, fragmented rural areas, its ability to control resources and coordinate operations crippled. Read more to find out how ISIS spreads its tentacles…

As with other groups that have overplayed their hands before them, the Islamic State had to change its tactics to stay relevant.

New Islamic State Strongholds

Needing continued presence and conquest to succeed, ISIS focused its attention on social media to spread its ideology, utilized migration and the disenchantment of migrants, and pervaded political gaps created by corruption, conflict, and public dissent to develop footholds elsewhere.

Geopolitically, two strategies seem prevalent. Firstly, terrorist groups identify and target areas and populations where conditions favor extremism that the failing state is unable to counter. Most notable such strongholds were established around the Bedouin village Sheikh Zuweid in the North Sinai Governorate of Egypt near the border with the Gaza Strip, the northeast Borno State in Nigeria, territory in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, and swaths of land in Yemen, Libya, and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.

These areas all share various commonalities, such as a sizable Muslim population, ongoing conflict that the failing or failed state cannot control, and groups aggrieved by government oppression or power grabs. Militarization means that weapons are freely available, and groups use the areas as training and recruitment centers.

Expanding Through Affiliation

Furthermore, the presence of an Islamic State structure and fighters in some areas pose a threat to neighboring countries, as they seek to expand, often by infiltrating or affiliating existing criminal gangs, dissident or extremist groups there. Previously little-known Jihadi groups may be swallowed up by larger groups with widely known brands, established influence, and more substantial funding. One such development to keep an eye on is the recent rise of Jihadi terrorism in northern Mozambique.

Since October 2017, more than 20 skirmishes and attacks have taken place in Cabo Delgado Province, the area bordering Tanzania. Although the perpetrator, Ansa al-Sunna, a militant Islamist group aspiring to establish an Islamic State in Mozambique, does not have formal links with the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, it shares much of the same ideology and goals. The movement is anti-Christian and anti-Western, views institutions such as hospitals and schools as secular and anti-Islamic and calls for sharia law.

Such shared beliefs attract recruits and mercenaries from across their northern borders in Tanzania and Somalia. Ansa al-Sunna is widely viewed as an emerging threat, although security analysts argue it is too soon to suspect cross-border organizational influence from any larger terrorist group. However, the presence of oil, lack of state control, ongoing conflict, the potential for land control, and poor socioeconomic circumstances must have put Cabo Delgado on the radar of terrorist leaders hungry to re-establish glory.

Lone Wolves and Small Terror Cells

The second pillar of the Islamic State’s evolving strategy is encouraging the emergence of small independent terror cells and lone-wolf terrorist operators in Western countries. Most of these states have rapidly growing immigrant populations which are relatively isolated, subjected to rates of unemployment above those of their peers, with family legacies of cultural diaspora and ideology, and often involved in diverse criminal activities.

Both al-Qaeda and Islamic State publish glossy English-language electronic magazines online targeting potential recruits and financial sponsors in the West. In conjunction with their social media networks, this has proven successful to reach a global audience. The magazines are useful brand-building tools. Boasting about successes, glorifying leaders and martyrs, calling for individual Jihad, and providing operational instructions and target suggestions for leaderless attacks, the role of the magazines in encouraging transnational terrorism is concerning.

The Influence of Social Media

Although the structural organization of Islamic State’s propaganda machine, al-Ḥayāt Media Center, appeared to have cut back to primarily Arabic-language video messages, with its Rumiyah magazine ceasing publication in September 2017, social media support has not dwindled despite the efforts of mainstream platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to suspend or delete hundreds of thousands of accounts since 2015.

In addition to smart marketing initiatives that ensure social media accounts stay elusive to content management efforts, ISIS started using channels that encrypt their communications (e.g. Telegram), allow anonymous posting without registration (e.g. Justpaste.it), or created their own content-sharing pages and apps (i.e. Manbar.me, The Dawn of the Glad Tidings).

The use of these social media platforms has been implicated in various attacks in the West, mainly in the radicalization of the perpetrators, including the 2017 Manchester bombing, 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and the 2015 San Bernardino shooting.

Training and Operational Support

In addition to lone wolves with only a tenuous or questionable connection to Islamic State, despite claims to the contrary, forming and employing small terror cells has been instrumental in many of the recent attacks in Europe.

Recruiters are active in Muslim-concentrated areas in European cities, identifying mostly at-risk young men of immigrant descent or migrants themselves.

Members form small cells, and some recruits are chosen and psychologically prepared to become suicide bombers.

Suicide attacks in the West tend to be more elaborate and high-tech compared to those perpetrated by lone wolves. The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST), an open-source database maintained at the University of Chicago, lists 16 separate terrorist-related suicide-bombing incidents in the West since 1999. These include five coordinated attacks that involve 14 of the events, namely the 9/11 attacks, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, the November 2015 Paris attacks, and the 2016 Brussels bombings. These were all intricately planned and synchronized by al-Qaeda central (2001 – 2005) or Islamic State (2015 – 2016) to cause the most disruption and media attention.

The bombs are relatively sophisticated and require logistical and technical support to be effective. For instance, experts believed an experienced bomb maker probably built the explosive device concealed in Salman Abedi’s backpack at the Manchester Arena as it contained TATP explosive, an acetone hydroxide trimer made from household ingredients, linked to a powerful 12-volt motorcycle battery. The design also appeared to include a dual detonating system consisting of a manual plunger switch and circuit board with a timer or remote receiver, packed with screws and nuts as shrapnel in a lightweight metal container.

The Use of Low-Tech Weapons

Compared to the relative sophistication of explosive devices as terrorist weapons, ISIS has also been advocating the use of low-tech methods to prospective lone wolf terrorists to fulfill their Jihad obligation. These weapons are easy to come by, inexpensive, tough to trace, concealable, and challenging to defend.

A list of more than a hundred lone wolf attacks in Europe, USA, Canada, UK, and Australia since May 2014 revealed that in more than half of the attacks (54%) the perpetrators used a knife, ax, machete, hammer, or box cutter, while, 18% of the cases involved ramming pedestrians with a car, truck, or van.

Although these attacks tend to be less lethal – an average of five killed per lone wolf attack and slightly higher when using a vehicle (eight deaths per attack) – compared to suicide bombings (an average of 13 deaths per attack), it favors an impromptu, solo operator. It is also the less expensive and secure option for terrorist groups if they can solicit it successfully while garnering sought after propaganda.

A Strategy Readjusted

Therefore, with the fierce resistance suffered in conventional warfare, Islamic State has revised its strategy to avoid major battlefield engagements, direct, large command and control operations, while instead focusing on encouraging leaderless resistance, enabling small terror cells and coordinated attacks, and establishing safe pockets in failed states for training, operational logistics and supply, and financial transactions.

In essence, it is disconnecting from a physical, concentrated presence, while sharpening its online presence to fight an ideological battle and convince followers and prospects to get skin in the game on its behalf.

ISIS Proving Elusive by Tunneling, Staying in Small Groups, Blending Into Towns

U.S. Soldiers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment fire artillery alongside Iraqi Security Forces artillery at known ISIS locations near the Iraqi-Syrian border on June 7, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, June 19, 2018:

ARLINGTON, Va. — ISIS fighters have tunneled into a large swath of territory in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, popping up in small groups and presenting challenges to forces trying to wipe out the terror group in Syria, a coalition spokesman said today.

Col. Sean Ryan of Operation Inherent Resolve said via video link today that ISIS cleanup operations also continue in Iraq, where more than 400 new Counter Terrorism Service soldiers and 20 new sharpshooters have completed training as Iraq builds up its capability to keep ISIS from returning with a vengeance.

The Syrian Democratic Forces — the multiethnic, multisectarian coalition that ousted ISIS from Raqqa — are on their 50th day of Operation Roundup, and recently intercepted $1.4 million in drugs intended to fund ISIS. The U.S.-led coalition is supporting the SDF operation with airstrikes as needed.

Ryan said it’s unknown how many ISIS fighters are still in the region.

“You have to understand that the area that they’re fighting in is desert area, is very large, so we know that they’re fighting in pockets from three to five fighters, basically,” he said. “They’ve dug tunnels, they know the terrain very well and some of them, you know, can blend in if there’s a town around as well.”

“So we don’t have an exact number, but that’s why we’re pressing on with Operation Roundup — the whole goal is for the SDF to press forward, to clear the area, and that way we can find all the tunnels and, sooner or later, the fighters will have to come up… that’s why the [Iraqi security forces] has a border patrol, so if they do come out and try to cross the border, then they will be killed then.”

Ryan said officials are “less concerned about the number of fighters and more concerned about their capability to continue their actions and be terrorists.”

On whether self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be alive, Ryan replied, “We don’t have that information; of course, there’s always rumors swirling that he is in that area, and if he is, you know, we’ll probably find him. But I can tell you we’re less concerned about one individual and really more into trying to dismantle ISIS’ logistics, their finance and their means of fighting, because that’s what’s going to end it in the long run.”

ISIS is assessed to still be “a threat throughout the entire region, and the world, for all that matter,” he said.

“What we don’t want is to have the SDF go too fast, where we miss some tunnels or we miss some of the terrorists hiding,” Ryan explained. “So they’re having a methodical approach right now. That way, when they roll through, they destroy any ISIS terrorists that they see. And it’s taking a while, but we’d rather stabilize that area and know that it’s safe so the ISIS fighters could not come back in.”

The SDF said Sunday that they liberated the town of Dashisha, near the border with Iraq.

Also see:

Paris knife terrorist swore allegiance to ISIS leader before attack

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 13, 2018:

The Islamic State has released a short video purportedly showing the jihadist who attacked several people with a knife in Paris yesterday. The footage was released by the group’s Amaq News Agency. A screen shot of the young man can be seen above. FDD’s Long War Journal cannot independently verify that the person shown was responsible for the knife attacks. However, the video is similar to a number of other self-recorded clips released by the Islamic State after a series of small-scale attacks in Europe since mid-2016.

The masked man swears allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and also exhorts Islamic State followers to continue fighting. A similar formula was used in previous Amaq videos (see below).

The terrorist, who reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” killed one person and wounded four others with a knife in the Opéra district of Paris. He was then shot and killed by police.

Amaq News quickly claimed responsibility for the operation, saying in a statement that the “attacker who stabbed multiple people in the city of Paris was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.” Amaq has employed similar phrasing after a number of operations in the past, repeatedly saying that jihadists were seeking revenge against the anti-ISIS coalition. The Islamic State’s spokesmen and propagandists have repeatedly called for such attacks.

According to BBC News, authorities say the assailant was born in 1997 in Chechnya and may have been a suspected extremist before he struck.

Islamic State terrorists and supporters have executed a string of attacks inside France since Jan. 2015. The latest before yesterday came in March, when a jihadist took hostages at a supermarket in Trèbes. [For a list of Islamic State-connected attacks in France, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Islamic State claims its ‘soldier’ took hostages in southern France.]

Similar videos of terrorists swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

The videos listed below featured jihadists who recorded their bayat (oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi prior to their attacks. The clips were then released online by the Islamic State’s propaganda arms, either via Amaq News Agency or Furat Media. (The list presented here is an updated version of an analysis previously published by FDD’s Long War Journal.)

On July 18, 2016, an Afghan teenage refugee bordered a train in the German city of Würzburg and hacked at passengers. The teenager, identified as Muhammad Riyad, brandished a knife in an Amaq video as he swore his loyalty to Baghdadi. (The Grozny attacker repeated this scene.)

On July 24, 2016, a veteran jihadist from Syria blew himself up, perhaps accidentally, outside of a music festival in Ansbach, Germany. More than a dozen people were injured. The bomber, identified as Mohammad Daleel, rehearsed the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi in an Amaq video released online two days after his attack.

On July 26, 2016, a pair of jihadists assaulted a church during morning mass in Normandy, France, killing an elderly priest and taking several people hostage before being gunned down by police. Amaq’s video showed the two performing the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi shortly before carrying out the murder.

On Aug. 17, 2016, two young jihadists, identified as Uthman Mardalov and Salim Israilov, assaulted Russian policemen in Balashikha, which is east of Moscow. The pair swore allegiance to Baghdadi in footage that was disseminated by Amaq.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Anis Amri, a Tunisian man, drove a large lorry into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve people were killed in his vehicular assault. Days later, Amri was subsequently killed during a shootout with Italian police in Milan. Amaq released a video of Amri swearing allegiance to Baghdadi, and US officials discovered that he had ties to Islamic State operatives in Italy.

On Aug. 19, 2017, a young man went on a stabbing rampage in the Russian city of Surgat, wounding eight people. The terrorist was shot and killed by authorities. Two days later, on Aug. 21, Furat media (another Islamic State propaganda arm) released a short video featuring the jihadist responsible for the Surgat assault. The masked man, identified as Masa’ud al-Surghuti, swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, whom he addressed as the “Emir of the Believers” and the caliph. Al-Surghuti called upon supporters to lash out with the simplest weapons they can find, including household tools.

Then, on Mar. 20, a lone assailant stabbed and slashed at police in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Shortly afterwards, Amaq News released a video of the Baghdadi loyalist brandishing a knife as he sat in front of a small Islamic State flag on the wall behind him. He addressed the “brothers” who are on “social networks” and implored them to lash out. He told fellow believers that they should kidnap or kill “all apostates” wherever they may live.

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