A pro-ISIS media group continued its online verbal jihad against the Vatican and Christmas today with a threat accompanied by an image of a jihadist and a wolf overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
On Tuesday, the Wafa’ Media Foundation released an image of smoke rising from Rome with a fighter jet overhead and a jihadist standing next to the sort of makeshift armored vehicle ISIS uses for suicide bombings in Iraq and Syria. “The date is approaching o worshippers of the cross,” states the message on the image.
The ISIS magazine Rumiyah — or Rome, reflecting the group’s apocalyptic vision and ultimate plans to sack the Vatican — hasn’t published a new issue since September. Their early e-book detailing the Rome conquest strategy predicted mob bosses would put up tough resistance: “There is no doubt that if Muslims want to take over Italy, the Islamic State European fighters will have to ally with other militias to fight the Mafia before the conquest of Rome.”
Today, Wafa’ released the Vatican “wolf” image, with a backpack, rocket-propelled grenade and rifle at the jihadist’s side as storm clouds gather over a twilight St. Peter’s Square.
In a message to fellow jihadists, the group notes that “the crusaders’ feast is approaching.”
The message ran on with no punctuation: “Their convoys will crowd itself in front of you prepare and plan for them show them the meaning of terrorism kill them and do not hold back with your blood the reward is paradise and let them know that you are from an ummah [Muslim community] where mountains bow down to we will not forget our revenge for every drop of blood that they have shed we will not exclude the young, elderly or women you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is more even worse.”
Last week, the group released a “beheading” image of Pope Francis, with a jihadist standing 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, held a knife in one hand and touched the head that looked like Pope Francis — propped on the back of the body — with his other hand.
“Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the pope’s name, was written next to the head.
The previous 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 recently 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. “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.