Declaring that ISIS is a “globalist” organization, a new magazine geared toward young recruits is calling on jihadists to wage vehicle attacks outside of the U.S. Capitol.
Shabab al-Khilafah, or The Youth of the Caliphate, debuted its first issue on Oct. 10 as a colorful collection of articles, posters and teasers to online videos encouraging home-turf attacks on behalf of the Islamic State. Supporters were encouraged to submit content for future issues.
That debut issue, which was distributed via online file-sharing sites, called for lone-jihadist attacks in Australia. On Nov. 9, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali rammed his car filled with propane canisters into a sidewalk in Melbourne’s central business district, got out and stabbed three people, killing one before being shot by police.
The Youth of the Caliphate isn’t an official publication, but is produced by multiple ISIS-supporting media groups under the leadership of groups including Ashhad Media, which has been recruiting online jihadists in English, Arabic and French, and Al-Abd Al-Faqir, which produces frequent online threat images and videos. These independent media organizations form a growing online support network that creates and disseminates propaganda for recruitment and incitement on behalf of the terror group, with the goal of widening the geographical scope of attacks and ISIS influence.
This onslaught of continuously fresh propaganda has figured into other cases of lone jihad. Everitt Aaron Jameson of Modesto, Calif., pleaded guilty this summer to plotting a Christmas 2017 attack at Pier 39, a popular tourist spot in San Francisco; he loved with a heart on Facebook a poster from ISIS supporters showing Santa overlooking Times Square with a box of dynamite at his side.
The second issue of The Youth of the Caliphate, released Nov. 9, encouraged followers to join in “media jihad” by committing to daily online activities such as disseminating propaganda in support of ISIS; it included tips to lessen the online jihadist’s chances of getting quickly caught.
The third issue of the magazine, released this weekend, has expanded to 20 pages and, like previous issues, includes many of the memes previously released through ISIS-supporting channels.
This issue includes an image depicting a fiery attack at the altar inside a cathedral, resurrects ISIS glorification of the California wildfires as divine payback with a nudge to jihadists to consider arson, and depicts the cities of London, Sydney, Paris and Rome in cross-hairs. There are multiple articles geared toward attacks on the West.
In a collection of threat posters is one depicting a hand on a steering wheel — the watch reads 5:10 — heading toward the U.S. Capitol. “Harvest time has come in your homes,” the headline declares. “Run them over with a truck or a car. Coming at you.”
It includes the “Just Terror” slogan that ISIS uses for lone jihad.
“When we see all of the world media united in their war against the Islamic State, whether by sharing fake news or by trying to dehumanize the mujahideen, we need to understand that this war is not only against the Islamic State but it is against the fundamentals of Islam all together just like their tyrants have declared multiple times,” reads text published under the image. “And so this battle is between those worldwide media organizations and every single Muslim from any country. Since the people of falsehood have united against Muslims it’s only logical that we, the people of this ummah [Muslim community], unite against this satanic coalition… the Islamic State has never had any problems dealing with non-Arabic languages and cultures and this is manifested in its various media foundations and that a lot of its wilayah [provinces] are in non-Arab land. The Islamic State project has never been a national one but a globalist one that aims to unite all of this ummah with all of its colors and races under one banner and one law.”
The Capitol was separately threatened a month ago by Muharir al-Ansar, an ISIS-supporting media group that circulated a poster declaring “Soon: the White House under fire: Just Terror.” The image of a jihadist pointing a rifle outfitted with a scope through a defensive position in a broken wall, though, depicted the U.S. Capitol instead of the White House.
And a biological threat distributed in recent days by the Al-Taqwa Media Foundation depicting a capitol building — not the U.S. Capitol — in flames with a calamitous street scene including abandoned military vehicles and civilian cars, as the ISIS flag is raised and a quintet of armed, camouflage-clad jihadists stand before the building. In the image were four biohazard warning symbols: one on a nearby building, and three on concrete barricades separating the jihadists from their target.
“O Crusaders, you have realized the danger of the Islamic State. But you did not know the treatment, and you will not know the treatment, because there is no treatment!” read the text. “By fighting it, it gets stronger, and by leaving it, it blooms and stretches more.”
The Youth of the Caliphate also promotes recently released ISIS tactical guides, one showing would-be jihadists how to emulate the Beltway Snipers by firing out of a drilled hole while concealed in a trunk.