A new English-language message to the “lone wolves and hungry lions” circulating online among ISIS supporters as “new year is at the door” calls on would-be attackers to take advantage of the holiday season and specifically target American and French civilians with a variety of tactics including arson and poisoning.
The season of Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s has historically generated increased threats from extremists and has included the deadly attacks on the Berlin Christmas market in 2016 and the Strasbourg, France, Christmas market in 2018. In past years, ISIS-supporting media groups traditionally have churned out propaganda lifting up those incidents as well as the 2015 attack on a county employees’ holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., calling for others to emulate the prior attacks and calling for attacks on specific targets such as the Vatican.
The new message was released with audio — French- and English-language nasheeds and an English-speaking narrator — and accompanying text, quoting various verses from the Quran and reminding followers “there are their festive days on the doors — kill them like killing insects.”
Specifically calling on jihadists in America, France, Belgium, and Russia along with “the lions everywhere,” the message chides them about “what are you doing to support your brothers” as “the war is getting worse by the day.” The narrator told followers “do not miss this battle, wherever you are… so if you are able to kill an American or European infidel, especially the hateful French, or Australian, Canadian, Russian, Belgian, or other crusader infidel, the sponsors of countries that have allied together against the Islamic State, so trust in Allah and kill him by any means.”
The message further tells would-be jihadists to “not consult anyone and do not seek anyone’s help, whether the infidel is civilian or military, it makes no difference.”
“Support your brothers and your country with everything you can, and the best thing you can do is to do your best and kill any infidel French or American or any of their allies, so turn their night into day and their day to flames and flames to terror and devastation,” the exhortation continued.
The call then tells followers to use tactics ranging from blunt force to poison or arson. “If you fail from bombing or bullets, then blow a head with a stone, or slit it with a knife, run it over with a car, throw it from a height, conceal their breath, or put poison for them, do not hesitate,” the narrator continued. “Make your slogan, ‘I wouldn’t survive if they would.’ And if you failed to do any of that, then burn his house, car, business, or destroy their cultivation.”
The message ends by criticizing those who don’t engage in jihad as disloyal, with the narrator telling the nonviolent to “review your religion because you are in great danger.”
The calls for attacks circulated among ISIS channels in the past have not fallen on deaf ears: Everitt Aaron Jameson, a Modesto, Calif., tow-truck driver and former Marine, pleaded guilty in 2018 to planning a Christmas-season attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39; he had “liked” on Facebook an ISIS propaganda image depicting Santa with a box of dynamite in New York’s Times Square.
The Dec. 11, 2017, bomber in the NY subway tunnel, Akayed Ullah, used an al-Qaeda pipe bomb recipe featured in the summer 2015 issue of Inspire magazine that incorporated a Christmas light, but the device didn’t work as intended.
ISIS supporters have also distributed vague New Year’s Eve threats in past years. ISIS once highlighted a 2017 disrupted Australian New Year’s Eve terror plot in their weekly al-Naba newsletter, stressing that the attacker would have caused “catastrophic” casualties in “one of the most important centers where Christians meet.”