X Close

Hamas and the Houthis have emboldened Isis A resurgent Islamic State has continued to plot

Isis are using the Palestinians as propaganda. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Isis are using the Palestinians as propaganda. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images)


and
January 15, 2024   4 mins

While the public’s focus on non-state actor threats is shifting to military action against the Houthis, a resurgent Islamic State (Isis) threat abroad and within the West continues to fester. Three days into 2024, the Islamic State reminded the world of its ability to conduct international attacks with a coordinated pair of suicide bombings in Kerman, Iran, that left 91 people dead. US officials asserted that communication intercepts provided “clear cut and indisputable” evidence that the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) — Isis’s Afghanistan-Pakistan branch — carried out the operation.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, ISKP has worked to build up its external operations capabilities as well as its propaganda arm to incite violence against its enemies. And this project has largely been successful: ISKP has now carried out multiple attacks inside Iran, fired rockets into Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and has been involved in multiple violent incidents in the Maldives. The branch also had plots foiled in Iran, India, Turkey, the Maldives, Tajikistan, and Qatar. Most recently, a plan to attack a central square and church in Jalal-Abadin, Kyrgyzstan, during New Year celebrations was disrupted by special services.

Closer to home, ISKP has overtly stated its intention to target the West, adding a new dynamic to the pre-existing threat from Isis’s central apparatus in Iraq and Syria and its supporters abroad. Only last week, it was revealed that a robust transnational ISKP-linked network was the focus of a coordinated series of raids across Europe after foreign intelligence services tipped off the governments of Spain, Germany, and Austria. The Austrian and German cell reportedly sought to target Cologne Cathedral and Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It followed a similar operation last July, when Germany and the Netherlands co-ordinated to dismantle an ISKP-linked network reportedly plotting attacks in Germany.

Ever since March 2019, when the flags of the Syrian Democratic Forces were raised over Isis’s final stronghold in Baghuz, the terror group has been focusing on leveraging events abroad to galvanise and incite its supporters. One such opportunity presented itself last June when an Iraqi asylum seeker in Sweden burned a copy of the Quran outside of the country’s largest mosque. Almost immediately, Isis propagandists tried to use the incident to ignite followers into action. Their weekly al-Naba newsletter, for instance, told its readers to begin “carrying out attacks in the heartland of the kuffar” by “striking their necks and spilling their blood”. ISKP even published a pamphlet critical of the Taliban for failing to condemn the act harshly enough.

Nor did its rhetoric fall on deaf ears. After a similar burning last January, Swedish police detained five men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorist crimes, all of whom were reportedly tied to “international calls for attacks”. In Germany, meanwhile, two brothers were detained for planning a bombing against Swedish targets. One of the two men allegedly told a supporter of Isis that he intended to attack a church in retaliation for the Quran burning. Similar arrests took place in Turkey.

Yet it wasn’t until October 7 that this Islamist impetus really burst into the open, with Isis suddenly finding itself on fertile soil for cultivating new followers in the West. Shortly after Israel commenced its military response to Hamas’s attack, al-Naba ran an editorial titled “Practical Steps to Fight the Jews”. The article criticised Israel’s military action in Gaza, its historical oppression of Palestinians, and scorned the West for its past and present support for Jerusalem. It then went on to call for a “rapid field effort to target the Jewish presence in the entire world”, specifying the need to “target and attack Jewish and Crusader embassies everywhere”. As for desired targets, it identified “the Jewish neighborhoods, in America and Europe”, as they “constitute the backbone of the Jewish economy and the hotbeds of control in Western Crusader decision-making circles supporting the Jewish statelet”.

ISKP, in the latest issue of Voice of Khurasan, its flagship English-language magazine, reproduced a translation of al-Naba’s editorial, as well as a full page exalting various Isis-inspired attacks. Furthermore, it threatened the “Crusader governments” of the West, telling them to prepare for many more such occurrences in the future. The issue also featured a call to “kill the Jews where ever you find [them]” and included an infographic advising its supporters to target tourist sites, educational institutions and music events, as well as what weapons to use: Molotov cocktails, petrol bombs, crossbows, nail guns, knives, and vehicles.

Within a week of October 7, these calls appeared to bear fruit, when a 20-year-old Russian Muslim fatally stabbed a teacher in France outside of a school in Arras. In a video posted beforehand, the alleged perpetrator highlighted the Hamas attack and expressed support for Isis. Three days later, two Swedish soccer fans were gunned down in Brussels by a 45-year-old Tunisian man who claimed to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State. He was later killed by authorities at a cafe. And in Paris, on December 3, a man claiming allegiance to Isis fatally stabbed a German tourist and injured two other people near the Eiffel Tower.

This year, all the signs suggest that Isis will only further ramp up its rhetoric. On 5 January, in a speech titled “And kill them wherever you find them”, spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari announced a new campaign of violence, calling for jihadists to target “Jews, Christians or their allies, on the streets and roads of America, Europe, and the world”. He encouraged supporters to “detonate explosives, burn them with grenades and fiery agents, shoot them with bullets, cut their throats with sharp knives, and run them over with vehicles” in order to “let them know that their crimes in Palestine, Iraq, Sham, and other Muslim countries are being retaliated for in their homes in Washington, Paris, London, Rome, and other Kaffir lands”.

The territorial power base of Isis may be far smaller than 10 years ago, when it was its zenith, but it still presents a heightened threat — and to Europe in particular. The attacks and high number of foiled plots in the West signal that these trends will persist. Combined with Western security and intelligence resources stretched to focus on developments involving China, Russia, Iran, and now the Houthis, Isis and its followers may find new opportunities to carry out operations.


Lucas Webber is the co-founder and editor of Militant Wire

LucasADWebber

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

36 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
6 months ago

Good thing Biden put the USA’s vast resources into prosecuting rioters in a search for the boogieman of “white supremacy” while throwing all those billions into an futile proxy war which could easily been averted by diplomacy,after abandoning billions of USD worth of armaments and military hardware in Afghanistan for the Taliban to freely acquire after sinking Trillions into half heartedly fighting a tribal society that while contemptible still never attacked the USA anywhere but in their own native country as a response to being invaded. Blinken, Nuland, & Nod are quite the strategists. Here we are.

jane baker
jane baker
6 months ago

It’s almost like the chaos is plotted like a Hollywood movie.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

…if the movie were a black comedy.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I doubt any Hollywood scriptwriter would be able to make this up

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

And even if they did, any studio executive would laugh and tell them that even if the audience did buy into the ridiculous nonsensical plot, they would never sympathize with the gaggle of bumbling idiots that the main characters appear to be.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
6 months ago

I’m sure if we speak to them nicely, they’ll put down their weapons and sing ‘Kumbaya’. 😉

jane baker
jane baker
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

What weapons. A few little stingers that our high tech sophisticated shipping is not that vulnerable to. If it is then someone’s asleep at work.

David George
David George
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Merchant shipping has no defense against “A few little stingers” AFAIK

Jae
Jae
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Are you serious? Do you know how many US armaments were left behind in Afghanistan? Clearly not, or hopefully you wouldn’t post as you did.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

In today’s article on Ukraine, you commented:
“This war should stop. No more.”
Despite that not being a particularly ‘helpful’ observation, does that mean you’d be in favour of a negotiated settlement?
How would that align with your view, expressed here, that we shouldn’t negotiate with offensive warmongers?

Tad Pringle
Tad Pringle
6 months ago

“and kill them wherever you find them” is straight out of the Quran, and is a requirement for devout Muslims to fulfill. It took two guys to write the article and they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide citation. Must try harder.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
6 months ago
Reply to  Tad Pringle

They didn’t write a lot more which I have pointed out and which as per usual UH practice nowadays is ” on ice”.

jane baker
jane baker
6 months ago

As a Brit it’s going to be so good (not) when our lobbing of some explosive at those people who I don’t know anything about and dont care,goes all wrong,gets ISIS in whatever form popular again and we end up looking stupid and worse off than before. I can’t believe these missiles they were launching were any more than annoying pinpricks like the Hamas ones to Israel. It’s all just an excuse. And it will all blow up in our faces.

Jae
Jae
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Your posts are demonstrating you don’t know a lot about anything I’m afraid.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
6 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

If you call Holocaust 2.0 a pinprick, then it’s pretty evident which side you’re on.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
6 months ago

The links of ISKP with the ” P” state are well known. Is it a surprise that the most trenchant attacks on moderate Arab State rulers like MBS and Zayed are emanating from there?
Is it also startling that the same lot frequently visits the reigning global leader and it’s warmongerers?
The article goes half way but not full for obvious reasons in its analysis.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago

The Pakistani’s have reportedly fallen out with the Taliban. Does that mean they are recoiling from all Islamist groups? or that ISI is in the market for new groups to support?

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
6 months ago

The latter. Munir the army chief accompanied by the ISI boss met all who mattered Stateside.( Besides expensive house hunting)
The Iran blasts, further tensions on the border with India, calls for ” internationalising” Mecca etc and calling MBS and Zayed out as supportive of ” kafirs” are some of the effects of assured ” support”.
Whether this is a new game of playing off all against each other or a 3d chess game along with CCP is still ” smoke and mirrors”.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
6 months ago

Hamas and the Houthis may have emboldened Isis, but the UK, US and EU have emboldened the Zionists. Both these emboldenments are bad news.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

I agree. I think it would be in the national interest if the UK took a more balanced approach.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

“A plague on both your houses.”*

(* R&J.)

Jae
Jae
6 months ago

“Balanced approach” because as I said above the “Zionists” are the ones who are driving down the streets of cities ramming cars into innocent bystanders and walking across bridges slicing people with knives and swords. It’s the Zionists who are blowing up busses and tall buildings killing thousands of citizens, even its own citizens, across the world. It’s the Zionists who kill Gay people by throwing them off high buildings or hanging them from cranes, after torturing them for days. It’s the Zionists beaheading innocents and posting it to social media to teach us all a lesson. It’s the Zionists whose societies demean women and oppress them. It’s the Zionists who drug crazed are raping, torturing and killing women, children and grandmothers and posting it online for their families to see. It’s the Zionists who take innocents as hostages and brutalise them so they can’t actually release them in case they tell their stories.

Honestly the ignorance of actual, real threats to society today is palpable.

Jae
Jae
6 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Because the “Zionists” are the ones who are driving down the streets of cities ramming cars into innocent bystanders and walking across bridges slicing people with knives and swords. It’s the Zionists who are blowing up busses and tall buildings killing thousands of citizens, even its own citizens, across the world. It’s the Zionists who kill Gay people by throwing them off high buildings or hanging them from cranes, after torturing them for days. It’s the Zionists beaheading innocents and posting it to social media to teach us all a lesson. It’s the Zionists whose societies demean women and oppress them. It’s the Zionists who drug crazed are raping, torturing and killing women, children and grandmothers and posting it online for their families to see. It’s the Zionists who take innocents as hostages and brutalise them so they can’t actually release them in case they tell their stories.

Honestly the ignorance of actual, real threats to society today is palpable.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago

At some point, it will dawn on someone with even a modicum of power that Western values and Islam cannot co-exist. We tried. It failed. That’s not going to change. When people choose to live in a 9th century mindset that justifies atrocities, there can be no negotiation, there can be no peace, and there should be as little interaction as possible. And that’s aside from the Israel/Gaza conflict.
Within a week of October 7, these calls appeared to bear fruit
This is the mindset being faced. They’re not like us. They are never going to be like us. They don’t want to be us. Yet, we keep importing them in droves, then clutching our pearls when they fail to assimilate into our societies and become part of the landscape.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Aliens.

Jae
Jae
6 months ago

Everyone with half a brain can thank the Biden administration and its shadowy puppet masters who are actually making the decisions for the shambles we’re in around the world. They and they alone are responsible for setting the Middle East on fire – again. They enrich themselves every time it happens.

Mrs R
Mrs R
6 months ago
Reply to  Jae

They are the real enemy.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Jae

Uh, I think you mean George W. Bush, d**k Cheney and company.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

No real surprise. These terrorist, death Cults are inevitably like the Classical Hydra monster with multiple heads and they will inevitably feed off each other too. Containment is probably all that is possible and we have to be up to that and not simplistically think some magic bullet would solve the problem.
What’s also crucial is we don’t drift into a broader Islamophobia because of these sorts. That is exactly what they want. So if you do you are essentially doing their work for them.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
6 months ago

”The attacks and high number of foiled plots in the West signal that these trends will persist. Combined with Western security and intelligence resources stretched”

I trust the ‘Western Intelligence and Security’ as far as…. well, actually not at all.

Jan 6 is proving to be a setup by the FBI/CIA/NSA/White House…. It was a trap they built and sprung to create political prisoners to fill gulags – ”POUR ENCOURAGER LES AUTRES” and strike fear in the hearts of any Trump Supporter – same as his show trials.

So – you list an endless list of plots foiled – WOW, do these guys get drunk and brag down the pub about their plans for terror?

To me it seems the ‘Security Services, perhaps looking for a reason for their budget on Internal Surveillance (which is really, Post the 9/11, their main raison d’etre; they are there as Political Police) – Perhaps they find stupid and lost youth and feed them a bunch of crazy radical stuff – film them saying what they wish to do – swoop on them and arrest them – like they did with the Jan 6 guys.

How else do they catch them almost every time????? Is that not odd?

seems pretty suspicious…..

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
6 months ago

Spot on.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

January 6 was a set up of American intelligence? So they managed to lure thousands of MAGAs to Washington and made trump tell them to go to the Capitol? The FBI made the surging crowd injure 180 cops? The CIA made the MAGAs deface priceless paintings and smear feces on the walls of the Capitol? Did the FBI build the platform with a noose? Wow, who new intelligence was that powerful? Kind of like magical wizards controlling innocent people and directing them to commit violence.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I cannot disagree with your comments, except 180 cops “injured”, seems unlikely. However, one protester murdered for non-violent action.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Not today, not tomorrow or even the next day but SOON there will be major Islamic atrocity in Europe, a veritable ‘slaughter of the innocents’. There will be much “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth “ but actually we have brought it on ourselves.

Sadly these islamic cretins are incapable of emulating their renowned predecessors the ASSASSINS and thus slaughter the innocent which avails them NOTHING. Why can’t they wake up?

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones
6 months ago

There is a spiritual struggle underlying current international geopolitics, and it is getting more and more explicit. Even to the point where some of the increasingly irrelevant professional atheists have come to recognise it.

The enemy is starting to bring together it’s various abominations in to one awful coalition. From a secular point of view the budding allegiance between pink haired perverts on University campuses, muslim warlords with big beards and AK-47s, and autocratic dictators makes no sense, but if you just ask who their shared enemy is, it makes perfect sense.

So, if you aren’t already, get to church. God won’t lose.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
5 months ago

ISIS and other extremist groups will never go away. The only option is continued covert action by western powers(ie we never hear about it), that keeps them at bay. There can be no reconciliation.