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Friday, December 9, 2022

ISIS Supporters Post Threat Showing Texas Catholic Church, Vowing ‘Most Harsh of Catastrophes’

A threat poster that circulated online last week depicted a grenade-wielding jihadist photoshopped into the aisle of a Catholic church in Texas.

ISIS Supporters Post Threat Showing Texas Catholic Church, Vowing 'Most Harsh of Catastrophes' Homeland Security Today
(ISIS supporters’ image)

The image, in which the jihadist wearing a white T-shirt and tan pants kneels with a rifle, was released by one of the ISIS-supporting media groups that have supplemented the terror group’s deflated yet still-operating media unit.

“We swear, O Cross worshippers, that we will make you suffer the most severe of pains and the most harsh of catastrophes, for a new age is upon us; an age of lions and not one of slaves,” says the text in Arabic and English.

The creator also photoshopped an image of a bloodied body on the steps of the altar. A bloody knife stands pointed into the ground next to the jihadist.

The background image is the interior of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, Texas, a historic Gothic painted church first constructed as a log house in 1848.

The photo surfaced within the first few dozen search results when entering “Texas Catholic church” in Google search. A bit of online research often shows that sometimes the “target” shown in ISIS supporters’ threat posters may simply be high up in image search results for broad, relevant keywords instead of an intended attack location. Even if not an intended target by the creator, though, consumers of the propaganda could draw attack inspiration from a depicted target.

ISIS and its supporting media groups have long singled out the Catholic Church in myriad threat posters and videos, with a specific focus on Pope Francis and the Vatican. These threats traditionally escalate around the Christmas season.

CBS Austin reported that the Archdiocese of San Antonio said the threat was determined to not be specific in nature, but out of “an abundance of caution” security was increased for all Mass times.

Threat or Not? Anatomy of a Terror Propaganda Poster

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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