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Friday, March 24, 2023

ISIS Mocks Chinese ‘Spy Balloon Phobia,’ Says Response Shows U.S. Vulnerable to ‘Another 9/11 Styled Heavy Blow’

Terror group says its members can take advantage of "such an unidentified gas balloon" resulting in "great fear of the US, a big monster."

ISIS mocked the days-long monitoring and eventual missile takedown of the Chinese spy balloon and said response to the incident gave the terror group questions “about America’s capability of digesting another 9-11 styled heavy blow to its mainland.”

The high-altitude surveillance balloon operated by China was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4 after a days-long journey over the United States.

During its cross-country flight, defense officials monitoring the intelligence collection balloon said they considered shooting it down over rural Montana but determined that the risk of injuries or damage on the ground was too great. Though this type of balloon has crossed over the continental United States “a handful of other times over the past few years, to include before this administration, it is appearing to hang out for a long period of time this time around, more persistent than in previous instances,” a senior Defense official said at the time.

The latest issue of ISIS Khorasan Province’s Voice of Khurasan magazine devotes five of its 68 pages to the balloon, declaring that “America, the largest military spender of the earth, is now afraid of gas balloons flying over its sky.”

ISIS-K repeats the “claim of the Chinese infidels” that object was “simply a weather balloon that was turned away from its course.” They proceeded to apparently mix up balloon incidents, stating that “the US officials didn’t deny the possibility of hobbyist being behind such unidentified worries” and “the most interesting part of this comedy show is that the largest military spender of earth, the Goliath of the time, takes out such mere hobbyist’s balloon with multimillion dollar priced weapons without proper scrutiny.” A hobbyist club’s balloon may have been shot down Feb. 15 in the ensuing targeting of unidentified aerial objects.

“Another interesting part of the show is that such an unidentified gas balloon can cause great fear of the US, a big monster deprived of sound intellect, so what if the unidentified soldiers of Allah bring American cosmopolitan cities to knees due to the flames of just terror that the Goliath failed to deal with effectively up until now, since it has found no way for tackling the ‘open source radicalization’ other than isolating the citizens of the no.1 country of the world by disconnecting the internet service, which is like striking own leg with axe,” the article added.

ISIS then said the balloon was a distraction from American domestic problems including “regular mass shooting which has turned out to be one of favorite US leisure activities these days.”

“In the coming days, you might be seeing the high-tech dumbheaded Goliath of the time investing billions in R&D projects for developing high-tech systems for preventing extra-terrestrial suspicious mosquitos from entering their airspace,” the article said, adding that “it seems that the US vows to make its lands and skies impenetrable, although there remains the question about what might happen in case of the land of the Aad and Samud of the time fall victim to deadly earthquakes that happened in Turkey in the recent times.”

The terror group concluded that “spy-balloon-phobia … readily raises the question about America’s capability of digesting another 9-11 styled heavy blow to its mainland.”

ISIS supporters previously have floated the idea of lower-altitude balloons as a terror tactic. A 2019 propaganda poster titled “The Airship” from an ISIS-supporting media group showed a hot-air balloon floating over the U.S. Capitol with a handful of uniformed soldiers photoshopped in the foreground. The Quraysh Media infographic suggested that operatives can “burn large areas using the airship, by throwing (fire) from the airship on different places after you pass over the forest.” They suggested using the balloon to surveil and target military leaders from above, or using it as a “booby-trapped plane” through which explosives can be sent to a target location.

“Airship can be used for transportation, hiding and migration,” the poster continued. “The idea can be developed by a specialist to make the airship work via (remote control) to carry out attacks through it.”

While the articles in Voice of Khurasan tend to be focused on regional issues such as their displeasure with the Taliban in Afghanistan or targeting Hindus in India, the magazine does wade into U.S. current affairs.

In September, ISIS-K referenced the execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and the reactions of former President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in declaring that the United States has descended into a “banana republic” ripe for an “Islamic storm” in the terror group’s favor.

In the July Voice of Khurasan issue, ISIS-K called mass shootings and other gun violence in America “tit for tat” and an “‘unwanted’ population control program” that, despite the motives of white supremacist or grievance-driven domestic shooters, is divine retribution for the U.S. war on terror.

In a May issue, the magazine invoked recent hot-button elements of the culture war and talking points arising from debate over issues including sex education, LGBT acceptance and the teaching of evolution as the group argued that “democracy and all that emanates from it is retarded and perverse” and attempted to woo recruits to their extremism.

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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