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Saturday, December 9, 2023

9/11: ISIS Threats Depict Headless Statue of Liberty, Call for NYC ‘Bomb and Sword’ Attacks

With New York City consistently featured in online propaganda intended to recruit and rally would-be jihadists into conducting attacks, ISIS supporters have released a barrage of Big Apple threats and specifically mentioned the anniversary of al-Qaeda’s attacks on the Twin Towers in the run-up to Sept. 11.

One propaganda poster circulated online in the past few days by media groups that churn out content on behalf of the Islamic State depicts a headless Statue of Liberty holding a black ISIS flag instead of her torch. In the background, smoke rises from a handful of buildings.

9/11: ISIS Threats Depict Headless Statue of Liberty, Call for NYC 'Bomb and Sword' Attacks Homeland Security Today
(ISIS supporters’ image)

Another depicts a masked jihadist peering through a broken brick wall at the Empire State Building, with the message, “We are among you. We will fight you like 9/11 attacks. Soon.”

The same media group depicted a man standing on a city street carrying a backpack, wearing a T-shirt, cargo pants and white sneakers. At his feet sits a bomb with 6:39 on the timer. “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power,” reads the text from the Quran, adding, “Answer the call.”

The same time — 6:39 — was shown on a bomb in a propaganda poster circulated a month ago by ISIS supporters depicting a man concealing the device in a backpack and walking toward a yellow cab. “Through our blood comes success and we’ll give it our best to destroy the kuffar [disbelivers],” said the image. “We will slaughter them all.”

Mid-month, a poster depicted a masked man standing in front a blood-spattered Flatiron Building and Fifth Avenue Building Clock in Manhattan. “Now is the time for answer the call — attack them with bomb and sword,” said the text, with a bottom banner reading, “The lone wolf attacks.”

An ISIS-supporting media group called Noor Pro Media similarly depicted a partially crumbling Statue of Liberty with smoke rising from NYC and five fireballs falling toward the city. “Those are planes falling to earth from the sky over the Eastern seaboard,” stated the text, titled, “The end of time… a new beginning.” Four hijacked planes were used by al-Qaeda terrorists on 9/11; it’s not uncommon for ISIS propaganda to include themes or messages of one-upmanship.

A month ago, the ISIS-backing media group Greenbirds circulated an image of an “if you see something, say something” message on New York subway stairs. Below the 1-888-NYC-SAFE number, the ISIS supporters added, “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved.” Around the same time, the group also issued threats to London’s tube system.

Yet another group, in another photoshopped image, depicted a jihadist carrying an ISIS flag down the street in front of The Westin New York Grand Central hotel. “Go answer the call, don’t spare none. Kill them all, it is now time to rise. Slit their throats, watch them die,” said the text.

Though locations such as Paris, London, the Vatican and New York are frequently featured in propaganda, ISIS supporters characteristically peg rallying cries to certain holidays or events. ISIS supporters featured New York and Washington in threat propaganda leading up to the Fourth of July, and online threats to Pope Francis and Rome will increase as Christmas draws closer.

The NYC threats in the run-up to the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, though, come as two Queens women pleaded guilty Friday to honing their chemistry and electrical skills to build explosive devices for use on law enforcement or military targets.

One of the women, Noelle Velentzas, praised the 9/11 attacks, according to the criminal complaint, and declared “it’s fucking war” against U.S. authorities. She also said a terrorist should “go for the head” during an attack.

As Velentzas and her roommate and co-defendant Asia Siddiqui plotted, the document continued, Velentzas said they should be referred to as “citizens of the Islamic State.”

“Why we can’t be some real bad bitches?” Velentzas told an undercover officer.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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  1. While it is a fact that we have the best trained, most experienced, and best equipped military and intelligence services in the world we must none-the-less remain vigilant to prevent such attacks from happening again. Be they foreign terrorists or the home-grown variety, they will continue to test our resolve in this, and we need effective programs to train both professionals and private citizens to spot their activities, and then respond appropriately to neutralize the threat.

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