Two newly released ISIS propaganda pieces encourage the group’s supporters in the West to commit attacks using unconventional weapons, a message that has become a standard for ISIS and has increasingly been adopted by Al Qaeda as well.
A 19-minute long propaganda video circulated on August 23 via social media and Telegram made this call clear. Titled “Deter the Enemy from Harming Your State,” the video, created by ISIS’s Khayr Wilayah Media branch, called on followers “who are unable to make hijrah (travel to join ISIS) and join their brothers the mujahidin (fighters) in the Islamic State” to commit attacks using any means available. “Shake off the dust of negligence,” the video’s narrator intones, accompanied by English subtitles, “and do not try to excuse yourself due to lack of weapons or lethal tools, as you have the best example in the blessed attack in Nice.”
Using language that closely paralleled a 2014 speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Mohamed al Adnani – which was the first major instance of such calls – the video’s narrator states, “If you lack a bomb or a bullet, take a single American or French kafir (apostate), or any of their allies, then smash his head with a stone, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or push him off a cliff, or strangle him, or poison him, but do not slacken or become weak.”
The video also attempts to exploit anti-Israel sentiment to encourage these attacks, a common tactic in terrorist propaganda. While showing video and images of alleged brutality by Israeli soldiers, the narrator criticizes Syrian preacher Ali Al-Halabi and other religious leaders who have argued against the killing of Jewish civilians, and contrasted those moderate views with ISIS’s assertion that all non-Muslims who are not subordinated by ISIS can be killed. By juxtaposing this with the images of Israelis, the video can be seen as implying that only ISIS takes the side of the Palestinians – and that killing civilians on ISIS’s behalf is the only way one can be on the side of the Palestinians.
In a separate statement on Telegram,also released on August 23, the pro-ISIS media group Nashir Foundation similarly urges the use of unconventional weapons to commit terror attacks in the West. The statement includes a list of nine suggested plots, ranging from the use of poison and creating dangerous driving conditions, to calling in false threats in order to create panic and waste resources.
This is not a novel call to action. Over the summer of 2016, several attackers in Western countries used commonplace items as weapons; in Nice, the perpetrator drove a truck into a crowd of people, while in other European cities and in the U.S., attacks were attempted or carried out with knives, machetes and axes.
ADL has compiled a list of prior examples of terrorist propaganda that encourages attacks with common items