New threats from ISIS

The Islamic State’s (ISIS) Al Furqan Foundation for Media Production issued two threatening statements over the weekend.

Quoting the Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, ISIS first directed a statement at the Gulf states that have recently recognized the state of Israel. Al-Qurashi called on Islamic State members/supporters to target Western personnel, pipelines and economic targets in Gulf Islamic nations in retaliation for their recognition of Israel.

The second statement focused on Africa, which is more and more the central theater in the global jihadist insurgency. Directing a statement to Muslims in Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Congo, Kenya & Chad, ISIS called for them to join the Caliphate. The statement called on ISIS members/supporters in those nations to burn “Crusader corporations that came to pillage resources, humiliate you, subjugate you. Targets in front of you are many, means and methods of destroying and eradicating them abundant. Begin by attacking fuel transport pipelines, factories and facilities and may you be fated to destroy and burn places of debauchery and intoxication”

There are a few things that are worth noting about these statements. First of all, the fact that the statements are being released in the manner in which they are suggests that ISIS is taking extreme precautions to prevent detection. Their leadership has been decimated by U.S. air strikes and direct action missions, while Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria have hit them very hard as well.

The fact that ISIS is calling on others to carry out attacks calls into question whether the group still possesses the capability to carry out sophisticated terrorist operations targeting protected infrastructure and obvious targets.

On the other hand, in the past when ISIS has called upon its supporters around the world to strike targets and use specific methods, those supporters have in fact done so. Examples are vehicular jihad in Germany, France, the UK and New York City and knife attacks throughout Europe on soft targets. These statements cannot be dismissed out of hand as just bluster.

But the most noteworthy aspect of this communique is the emphasis on Africa. It was to be expected that ISIS would be infuriated by peace between Israel and any Islamic nation, but Africa is now the most active theater in the global jihadist insurgency, with violence raging in more than just the half dozen nations mentioned in the ISIS message. The major level of jihadist violence on the African continent is one of the most underreported security stories in the world today. The U.S. media in particular remains blissfully unaware of the situation.

It’s easy to dismiss violence in Africa as something that does not affect us in America, but history has shown repeatedly that anytime and anywhere the Jihadists are able to establish themselves and set up a base of operations, they use that base as a launching pad for jihad operations elsewhere. The Center will be producing a report soon on the Jihadist activity in Africa.

About Christopher Holton

Christopher Holton is a Senior Analyst and Director of State Outreach at the Center for Security Policy. Mr. Holton came to the Center after serving as president and marketing director of Blanchard & Co. and editor-in-chief of the Blanchard Economic Research Unit from 1990 to 2003