A new video from an ISIS-supporting media group depicts a drone flying over Fisht Stadium in Sochi’s Olympic Park while multiple explosions detonate around the World Cup venue.
The first game of the World Cup is Thursday morning between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The first match set for Fisht Stadium is Friday between Portugal and Spain.
ISIS supporters have recently intensified long-running online threats against the FIFA World Cup. The 11 host cities for World Cup matches span the far western part of the country, from Ekaterinburg in the east to Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast, from St. Petersburg to the north down to Olympic city Sochi at the Black Sea.
The 10-minute video from Al-Adiyat Media, “Be Violent Toward Them,” first shows stock battlefield scenes from the caliphate, along with ISIS’ use of drones to film suicide bombers driving toward intended targets and detonating their vehicles. It then focuses on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov while highlighting contributions of Russian jihadists.
The video shows a cell speaking in Russian and wielding knives before an ISIS flag, with the identities of three of the 11 members obscured.
The video shows footage of a jihadist climbing into one of the makeshift armored vehicles that ISIS has used to conduct suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria.
It then depicts a drone with an ISIS label taking off and hovering over Fisht Stadium.
Several simultaneous explosions then go off, including one in the main stadium and four in the surrounding lots.
It’s unclear from the video whether they’re depicting the drone simply filming ground attacks, or whether they imagine drones having a role in deploying explosives on the venue.
ISIS propaganda over the past week has included distributing a map of World Cup sites to potential lone jihadists and showing different methods for attacks.
Russia and formerly Soviet Central Asian countries have contributed an estimated 8,500 fighters to ISIS’ ranks.
The World Cup is an attractive target for terrorist groups because of the international representation and crowd sizes at the events. ISIS has also long had a beef with the sport so popular in the Muslim world, banning jerseys of European soccer teams in occupied territories and reportedly banning referees for following FIFA rules instead of Sharia soccer laws. One of the 2015 Paris terrorists detonated his bomb outside the Stade de France during a Germany-France exhibition match. And the municipal soccer stadium in Raqqa was turned into an execution center by ISIS; since the Syrian Democratic Forces drove ISIS out of town, games have returned to the pitch.
In an instructional graphic issued in English and Russian last month, would-be jihadists were shown how to target “the infidels in or out of stadiums.”
“Attack them with a truck or car,” the poster, distributed online, said, showing a semi-truck and a black light SUV.
“Blow them up or slaughter them or shoot them,” the advice continued, showing a rifle, a knife, and an explosive device with dynamite. Then a graphic showed “deadly points in the human body”: clavicle, solar plexus and ribs.
Al-Faqir Media, one of the more active pro-ISIS media groups that recently threatened attacks on commercial air travel, depicted a jihadist standing among the spectators at a soccer match with a grenade in hand. “Victory will be ours,” the poster said.
Another Al-Faqir poster showed a Molotov-cocktail-wielding man clad in a black hoodie, vowing in English and Russian “we will turn your night into fires.”
Pro-ISIS propaganda has also threatened specific players, including a recent depiction of Cristiano Ronaldo as a prisoner in an ablaze Luzhniki Stadium, one of the World Cup sites.
Last fall, the ISIS-supporting Wafa’ Media Foundation released several gory posters threatening the World Cup. The images showed FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi dead, French national team manager Didier Deschamps as an orange-jumpsuit-clad prisoner of ISIS being held at gunpoint, and Brazilian national team star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior about to be executed. “You will not enjoy security until we live it in Muslim countries,” one poster vowed.