Islamic State Steps Up Propaganda After Strikes, Urges Lone-Wolf Attacks

Terrorist spokesman urges attacks against American, European civilians

ISIL fighters in a parade in Mosul
ISIS fighters in Mosul / AP
September 23, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has stepped up propaganda operations following Monday’s U.S.-led airstrikes against the group in Syria.

An audiotape of an ISIL spokesman urges supporters to conduct unorganized "lone-wolf" attacks against Americans and others involved in the raids.

And ISIL released a new propaganda video showcasing ISIL warfighting that appears aimed at winning supporters.

The chief spokesman for the al Qaeda offshoot group, Shaykh Abu Muhammad al Adnani, issued a statement ridiculing Monday’s airstrikes against ISIL in Syria.

"Is this all you are capable of doing in this campaign of yours? Are America and all its allies unable to come down to the ground?" Adnani said in an audio message posted online.

Adnani also urged its backers to kill civilians, especially Americans, French nationals, and nationals of other countries that took part in the bombing raids in Syria.

"If you can kill an American or European infidel specifically French, Australian, or Canadian or other infidels from the allied countries who are fighting the Islamic State, put your trust in God and kill him in any way or manner whatsoever," he stated.

"Whether the infidel was civilian or military, it is the same, kill him."

Adnani said ISIL forces were bolstered by the capture of American-made military gear taken from Iraqi forces that fled rather than fight the group during its takeover of large parts of central Iraq beginning in June.

"Send arms and equipment to your agents and dogs ... send them very much, for it will end up as war booty in our hands," he said. "Look at your armored vehicles, machinery, weapons, and equipment. It is in our hands. … We fight you with it."

The ISIL spokesman urge the West to send ground forces and warned "you will pay the price when your sons are sent to wage war against us and they return to you as disabled amputees, or inside coffins, or mentally ill."

Adnani’s message was quoted widely on social media, including Twitter, using hash-tags, including one in Arabic that read "Adnani mobilizes ISIL supporters."

The 42-minute message also appeared designed to bolster morale of ISIL fighters who are now facing American and allied air power for the first time in opening raids the Pentagon called "very effective."

In the propaganda video, dubbed "Flames of War: Fighting has just begun," ISIL appears to be seeking young westerners to join the group and to show off its combat capabilities.

The capture of a French national in Algeria by an ISIL-affiliated group on Monday is said to be a response to Adnani’s call for attacks.

On Sept. 19, ISIL released an English-language video that sought to showcase the group’s successes in Iraq and Syria.

It featured sophisticated cinematic effects and Hollywood-style action that indicates it was targeting western and younger audiences.

The video was narrated by a masked terrorist speaking English with an American accent who also spoke fluent Arabic.

Using super-slow motion, as well as high-definition graphics and night vision footage, the video appears to have been produced by ISIL producers with filmmaking experience.

The video was promoted by jihadist websites and in once case was encrypted with software known as Mujahideen Secrets.

On YouTube, ISIL supporters were able to circumvent the removal of the video by rapid and repeated uploads.

Jihadists online have sought to portray the U.S.-led bombing campaign as a new "crusader alliance."

In other developments, two al Qaeda groups issued a call for jihadists to unite in confronting the latest military attacks. The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the North African al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said the anti-ISIL campaign was a war on all Muslims.

The statement comes amid growing signs that al Qaeda in Yemen appears to be splitting between supporters of core al Qaeda and ISIL.

The split has been seen in recent ISIL-style executions—slitting the throats of captured Yemeni soldiers—and harsher rhetoric.

Alternatively, the joint statement is raising concerns that the bombing campaign may lead to bridging differences between ISIL and its core al Qaeda rivals.