ISIS’s new focus: Incendiary attacks

  • January 9, 2017

In recent years, ISIS propaganda has urged followers to use a range of weapons, from knives to guns to cars, in terror attacks. The latest issue of the group’s Rumiyah (Rome) magazine reveals a new focus: incendiary attacks with various flammable weapons.

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Rumiyah, which is distributed online, is a relatively new English-language propaganda magazine; it emphasizes individual attacks against Western targets.

An entire section of the magazine is dedicated to very detailed instructions for executing those attacks, which weapons to use, as well as preferred targets and timing. The writers point out that because flammables are so much a part of everyday life, it will be very difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect plans for these types of attacks. They also provide examples of successful incendiary attacks, describing an alleged act of arson in a town outside of Moscow carried out by “a soldier of the Khilafa,” as ISIS refers to its supporters and affiliates abroad, and describe the destructive force of the fires that raged in Israel last November.

While the focus on incendiary attacks is new, this is not the first time ISIS has published very detailed instructions for conducting attacks abroad. The group’s promotion of the use of cars and knives probably contributed to the increase in those types of attacks. In one such attack, on November 28, 2016, Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed his car into a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, then got out of his car and tried to stab additional people.

We have not yet seen ISIS-related incendiary attacks in the US, in part because such attacks are probably perceived to be less “effective,” as they produce fewer casualties than more popular weapons like guns, knives and vehicles. That said, attacks with flammables are extremely easy to execute and do not require much advance planning.