Islamic State supporters issued a new Christmas-themed threat showing the National Cathedral in Washington in flames, with a camouflage-clad jihadist wielding a rifle standing in front of the Gothic structure.
The poster circulating among ISIS channels photoshops the photo of the church used on its Wikipedia page.
The threat mirrors that on a poster of Santa with a case of dynamite overlooking Times Square, which was released just after Thanksgiving: “We meet at Christmas in New York… soon,” reads the text on that image.
Some law enforcement officials indicated Akayed Ullah, whose in his attempt to bomb the subway in NYC on Monday morning only burned himself, said he chose the location because of Christmas posters in the tunnel. The only decor in the tunnel was a series of iPhone ads and a marbles mural that Ullah may have mistaken for Christmas ornaments.
The other U.S. house of worship targeted by ISIS supporters’ posters this holiday season has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple in San Diego, with the text “coming soon.”
The ISIS-supporting Wafa’ Media Foundation has released numerous threats against the holiday and against the Vatican. In a recent message to fellow jihadists, the group noted that “the crusaders’ feast is approaching.”
In another instance, Wafa’ circulated a poster depicting a vehicle moving toward the Vatican with a cache of weapons, vowing “Christmas blood.”
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.
In official ISIS channels, the terror group notably highlighted an Australian New Year’s Eve terror plot in their weekly newsletter two weeks ago, noting that the would-be attacker would have caused “catastrophic” casualties in “one of the most important centers where Christians meet” to ring in the holiday.
Ali Khalif Shire Ali, 20, of Werribee was arrested Nov. 27 in southwest Melbourne and charged with preparing to commit a terrorist attack and gathering documents to facilitate a terrorist act.
According to police, the Australian citizen and computer company employee started planning an attack back in March and was arrested when he moved to the stage of face-to-face meetings about acquiring a gun. His intended target was reportedly Melbourne’s Federation Square when it would be packed with New Year’s Eve revelers.
The ISIS article noted that “the young man” was planning “to carry out a major attack on a gathering of Christian communities to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Melbourne.”
ISIS highlighted how police warned that the attack would have been “catastrophic” had Ali followed through on his plot, as he “was intending to buy a submachine gun” and shoot a “large number of Crusaders celebrating New Year’s Eve” in “one of the most important centers where Christians meet in the city to celebrate their day.”
The singling-out of the New Year’s attack plot came as the official ISIS Nashir channel on Telegram exhorted followers in the West to run over people, go on a stabbing spree or conduct a mass shooting.