Last week, ISIS released a video titled “To the Sons of the Jews” that depicted children murdering alleged captured Syrian soldiers. The video contained multiple threats against Jews and Israel.
ISIS intentionally ties the violence of its children – its next generation of fighters – to future threats against Israel and Jews. The adult instructor in “To the Sons of the Jews,” for example, stated, “The ambition of those cubs will not be limited to liberating Syria or Iraq…but it is to raise high the banner of the Prophet…over the White House in America and in the heart of Tel Aviv.”
The children made the same point; before committing their murders, each said, “We have been raised to conquer the East and West, and we will restore al-Aqsa (Jerusalem) and al-Andalus (Spain), Allah permitting.” One of the children said, “O Obama, we will cut your neck and we will do the same to you and all the Jews.”
The video closed saying, “O sons of the Jews, know that whenever we cut off the head of an apostate, your death comes closer.”
The same theme runs through prior ISIS videos featuring child executioners.
In March 2015, ISIS released a video featuring a child murdering an individual whom the group alleged was a Mossad spy. The video threatened both Jews and Israel; quotes included, “O Jews, Allah has gifted us with killing your followers in your own stronghold in France,” and, “So we fight in Iraq and our eyes are on Jerusalem.” The conclusion of the video depicted the child executioner standing in front of an image of Jerusalem.
Another video, released in July 2015, depicted a child who appeared to be the executioner of a captured soldier, followed by the statement, “Every day we kill and capture your soldiers and officers. …and what is coming is more cunning and bitter. Our eyes are not only on…Homs nor Damascus, but our eyes are on Beit al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] and on Rome.”
But ISIS’s claim that their children will kill Jews and overthrow the State of Israel is only part of a larger strategy shared by nearly all Islamic extremist organizations that exploits popular anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel to recruit and motivate adherents and to encourage followers to act in the group’s interest.
Just as ISIS threatens Jews while executing Syrian soldiers, Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups regularly urge followers to attack the U.S. as an (alleged) way to hurt Jews and Israel. ADL has documented these calls, and more, in our report Anti-Semitism: A Pillar of Islamic Extremist Ideology.
Others have noted similar links. In a recent article in Tablet Magazine, Liel Liebowitz noted that Jews and Israel serve as a sort of canary in the coal mine of international terrorism. In Israel, France, and elsewhere, Jews are often the first victims of terrorist organizations that go on to attack Western sites more broadly. Paying attention to extremist threats against Jews is not only important to communal security; rather, it is essential for national security.
Some reports have also indicated that San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook was “obsessed” with Israel. ADL has documented multiple instances of U.S. residents linked to terrorist plots and activity motivated by Islamic extremism who regularly expressed animosity toward Israel and Jews; a list of recent examples is available in the ADL report.
Of course, not everyone who espouses anti-Semitic beliefs or hatred of Israel will be a terrorist. But the link between the two is an intentional element of terrorist strategy, and the impact of that strategy on American and Western security is significant.