The terror attack in Berlin this week targeting a historic Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring dozens more, and the bombing of a Coptic church in Cairo, killing 27, highlight the vulnerability of holiday events in the midst of increasing calls by the Islamic State to target them.
Arrests this month in Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Indonesia all involved terror plots targeting Christmas-related festivities.
And now ISIS supporters have published a list of churches in the U.S. to attack.
The Islamic State published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season, according to a message posted late-night Wednesday in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group.
A user going by the name of “Abu Marya al-Iraqi” posted an Arabic-language message calling “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.” […]
In another group post, a member summoned “the sons of Islam” to target “churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places,” and shared a list of addresses in the United States, as well as in Canada, France and the Netherlands.
On Tuesday, ISIS claimed credit for the Berlin Christmas market attack that killed 12 marketgoers:
— ABC News (@ABC) December 20, 2016
German ISIS member: “Mission accomplished” pic.twitter.com/SXkPIuC3KK
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) December 20, 2016
As I noted yesterday here at PJ Media, the suspect wanted in the attack, Tunisian migrant Anis Amri, was already known to German authorities, and Angela Merkel had been warned of such an attack:
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) December 20, 2016
And even Mark Steyn had days before warned of the potential for such an attack:
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) December 19, 2016
And just two weeks ago an Egyptian Coptic Christian church inside the cathedral compound was the target of a suicide bomber. He initially killed 25 (the death toll has now risen to 27 — mostly women and children):
BREAKING: ISIS claims responsibility for Cairo, Egypt Coptic church bombing Sunday, killing 25 Christians pic.twitter.com/C6vJwQQMnJ
— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) December 13, 2016
In November, the ISIS publication Rumiyah specifically called for truck attacks targeting markets and parades, including the Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade in New York City:
— Steve Stalinsky (@SteveStalinsky) November 15, 2016
ISIS Nov mag “urged jihadis to attack outdoor festivals, markets” using truckshttps://t.co/s6bw4LWQ9M
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 19, 2016
Subsequently, an ISIS spokesman reiterated that call:
— Stewart Bell (@StewartBellNP) December 21, 2016
As we saw this week, those calls for terror attacks are netting results.
On Nov. 26th, a 12-year old German-Iraqi boy attempted to detonate a suicide bomb at a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Fortunately, the device didn’t explode:
— (((R. Shackleford))) (@mypetjawa) December 16, 2016
This month, European authorities have also uncovered Christmas-targeted plots in Belgium and Austria:
Merry Christmas, infidel ==> Belgium: 10 Teenagers Arrested For Plotting Christmas Bomb Blast Attacks https://t.co/5eF3QCYnuo
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) December 19, 2016
Austria arrests failed asylum seeker who was ‘planning Christmas terrorist attack’ — RT News https://t.co/iCYZGyhQJz
— El_Grillo (@El_Grillo1) December 21, 2016
To highlight the global nature of the Christmas terror threat, another plot was uncovered in Indonesia:
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) December 21, 2016
French authorities are still investigating a bomb left in front of a church in Toulouse:
Merry Christmas, infidels ==> Mystery remains over makeshift explosive found at French church https://t.co/TOKqHXyZvO
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) December 16, 2016
It’s important to note that Christmas threats from Islamic terrorists are nothing new:
Christmas markets long been a target for Islamists. AQ trained operatives planned an bomb attack on Christmas market in Strasbourg 2000.
— Robin Simcox (@RobinSimcox) December 19, 2016
In Dec. 2010, Iraqi-born suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly prematurely detonated one of his explosive devices on his way to kill Christmas shoppers in downtown Stockholm, Sweden:
Terror: U.K.’s New Christmas Export: Sweden may change after its first suicide bombing. More urgently, thing… http://on.wsj.com/ikjgMF
— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) December 15, 2010
Just days before that attempted Swedish suicide bombing, Somali refugee Mohamed Mohamud attempted to detonate a bomb at the Nov. 26, 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, for which he was sentenced to 30 years in prison:
— KVAL News (@KVALnews) October 1, 2014
For good reason, authorities worldwide are heightening security during the Christmas season:
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) December 21, 2016
Israeli forces secure Jerusalem for tens of thousands ahead of Christmas https://t.co/pGTiHFHiQL
— Andreas Fagerbakke (@afagerbakke) December 22, 2016
— Julius! (@julius_ebola) December 20, 2016
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) December 22, 2016
It should be noted, however, that the Islamic State does not hold a monopoly on incitement against Christmas:
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) December 22, 2016
Turkish authorities ban all teachings of Christmas, including Christmas traditions and carols, at German school in Istanbul https://t.co/azPADLoT9B
— Turkey Untold (@TurkeyUntold) December 18, 2016
Nor is it limited to the Muslim world:
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) December 22, 2016
Now that we are in the very heart of the Christmas season, the terror threat to holiday events has escalated dramatically.
Keeping in mind the families who are still mourning their dead in Cairo and Berlin and will celebrate without their loved ones, here’s hoping the remainder of this year’s Christmas season remains safe and sacred.