Homeland Security

ISIS to Followers: 'Take Advantage of the Coming Days' to Strike 'Gatherings of Infidels' Like Strasbourg

Featuring Strasbourg attacker Chérif Chekatt in the new issue of their official weekly newsletter, ISIS told western jihadists to follow his lead in their home countries as “an unexploded ordnance in your land modifies a thousand operations in our territory.”

ISIS usually mentions lone-jihadist attacks in the news briefs section of the al-Naba newsletter, but featured Chekatt  on page 3 of the newsletter next to the editor’s note. In the first week of October 2017, ISIS gave similar preferential placement to Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, while they were claiming the attack as their own and encouraging jihadists to undertake their own mass shootings.

Chekatt, a Strasbourg native with an extensive criminal history who was flagged as a potential Islamic extremist in 2015, killed five and wounded 11 when he opened fire at the French city’s famed Christmas market 10 days ago. He escaped the scene but did not leave his hometown, and was shot and killed in an encounter with a routine police patrol two days later.

ISIS waited until Chekatt was dead to claim him as their own through their Amaq news agency.

In the new al-Naba article, the terror group said that even if Chekatt was “killed a martyr… this will not be the last of the attacks… in Europe and America they will not be pleased.”

“We remind Muslims in the lands of kuffaar [disbelievers] to take advantage of the coming days,” ISIS continued. “There are many gatherings of infidels in their festivals… take your war to the Crusaders.”

The top news brief item later in the newsletter focused on President Trump’s announced withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. The article discussed the U.S. timetable for full pullout, stressing “it will not be slow.”

ISIS noted that Trump’s pullout announcement coincided with Turkey threatening to attack Kurdish “apostates.”

ISIS also described the Strasbourg attack in the news briefs section of last week’s al-Naba. The article highlighted French officials’ description of Chekatt yelling “Allahu Akbar” at the scene.

In addition to this official call for more holiday attacks and home-turf jihad in the model of Chekatt, independent media organizations that form a growing online support network for ISIS — creating and disseminating propaganda for recruitment and incitement on behalf of the terror group, with the goal of widening the geographical scope of attacks and ISIS influence — have been issuing Christmas threats.

As Strasbourg’s Christmas market reopened last week, an ISIS-supporting media group disseminated an image of Santa riddled with bullets in the city’s center.

The poster showed a nighttime depiction of Place Kléber, the central square in Strasbourg, France, as a jihadist with a rifle propped against his shoulder surveys the scene. A Christmas tree was in flames behind the body of Santa.

“Beat him violently,” said the text in French. “Be sure to inflict the greatest losses on the enemy.”