An ISIS-supporting group posted an image online depicting an explosion at the top of the third-tallest office tower in downtown Los Angeles.
Though ISIS backers operating under a number of media alliances regularly craft and circulate threats and recruitment propaganda in the form of posters and video, Los Angeles is rarely featured as a target. The online jihadists trend toward threatening New York, Washington, Las Vegas, and large European cities.
The new image shows a camouflage-clad jihadist holding an ISIS flag with the evening L.A. skyline in the background and the glow of flames photoshopped coming from the hillside beneath his feet. An explosion is photoshopped onto the top of the Aon Center, the 62-story tower at 707 Wilshire Blvd. in the city’s financial district. The original photo used appears to be from Shutterstock.
The words above the image: “Our promise will soon be fulfilled.”
The city of Los Angeles routinely reminds residents that landmarks and transportation hubs — such as Los Angeles International Airport, targeted in a foiled 2000 al-Qaeda plot — are potential terrorist targets. Terror groups have always routinely complained about products from Hollywood making their way into popular culture in Muslim-majority nations.
The U.S. Bank Tower, which is the second-tallest building in L.A., was discussed as a potential target by Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 1999 as they planned the 9/11 attacks. In 2006, President George W. Bush said that Mohammed, in October 2001, “had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door, and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast” — at the time, the U.S. Bank Tower, then known as Library Tower.
After the complex coordinated terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, L.A. officials realized that “iconic and symbolic targets are not as high on terrorists’ priority list as killing high numbers of people,” Michael Downing, the Los Angeles Police Department’s anti-terrorism deputy chief, said at the time.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, the LAPD increased security at a Justin Bieber concert and increased outreach on security procedures at soft targets such as malls, restaurants and movie theaters.
L.A. was included in a 2016 ISIS July 4 threat that warned “there will be a device placed in either Heathrow, LAX or JFK airports.” The threat coincided with another ISIS attack on a soft target: the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where 22 civilians and two police officers were killed by five terrorists.