Just a few days after circulating a propaganda poster depicting a jihadist driving toward the Vatican, a pro-ISIS media group today released another poster depicting Pope Francis beheaded.
In the image from the Wafa’ Media Foundation, a jihadist stands over the orange-jumpsuited body of a prisoner with his hands behind his back, chest-down on the ground on a dirt street. The terrorist, clad in khaki with a white scarf covering his face, holds a knife in one hand and touches the head that looks like Pope Francis — propped on the back of the body — with his other hand.
“Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the pope’s name, is written next to the head.
In the background is an indistinguishable cityscape and a pickup with jihadists flying an ISIS flag from the bed.
Earlier this week, Wafa’ circulated a poster depicting a vehicle moving toward the Vatican with a cache of weapons, vowing “Christmas blood.”
“So wait…” were the only other words on the image, an illustration showing the point of view of an unseen driver as his BMW approached St. Peter’s Basilica in the evening with an unobstructed view driving down Via della Conciliazione. In the passenger seat: a rifle, a handgun and a backpack. In the rearview mirror, a masked face.
ISIS followers have favored attacks during the holiday season, with the 2015 attack on a San Bernardino County Christmas party by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik as well as last December’s truck attack on the Berlin Christmas market by Anis Amri.
The Wafa’ Media Foundation last week released a PR poster titled “The Specter of Terrorism,” stating in English, “You will pay very expensive price for your war on Islam.” The message added: “We will take revenge for the blood of Muslims on your land, we will kill the young before the older watch this.”
The Wafa’ posters are circulated largely on Telegram. One recent release was labeled “Manhattan” with a backdrop of burning, crumbling skyscrapers and a semi-truck — significantly more truck than the flatbed pickup Sayfullo Saipov rented from Home Depot — and showed a masked, armed jihadist standing before the scene. Whereas this jihadist wielded a rifle, Saipov brandished a paintball gun and a pellet gun — and had a stun gun in his truck — before he was shot in the abdomen by a real bullet from an NYPD officer.
“O worshippers of the cross in USA,” the poster stated. “Our lone wolves will come to you from where you do not know and we will terrorize you wherever you are and we will show you multitudes of terror and pain that you showed to the Muslims, and what is coming is more bitter and greater.”
In early October, Wafa’ called for lone wolf attacks in the style of the Las Vegas mass shooting. They also lauded the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting after Omar Mateen’s attack, and recently circulated posts showing soccer stars being killed or tortured by terrorists in a threat to the 2018 World Cup.
At the beginning of this month, on All Saints Day, Pope Francis prayed for victims of recent terrorist attacks in Somalia, New York and Afghanistan.
“I pray for the deceased, for the wounded and their family members,” the pope said. “We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and homicidal folly that abuses the name of God, spreading death.”