In New Audio Message, ISIS Spokesperson Abu Omar al-Muhajir Calls for Attacks in the West
On April 17, ISIS’s official spokesperson, Abu Omar al-Muhajir, released his second audio message since assuming his new role. The audio message, which is over 33 minutes long, began with a congratulatory note on the holy month of Ramadan then quickly became bellicose. Given the context in which the newest message was released, and the language it contains, the threat posed by ISIS followers may be elevated at this time.
Call to arms
After his congratulatory note, al-Muhajir announced the launch of the campaign “Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs” (or “غزوة الثأر للشيخين” in Arabic) to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, and his official spokesperson, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi. Al-Muhajir quoted both the Quran and the Hadith to validate the new campaign. He called to avenge the deaths of the former ISIS leaders by “painfully striking” the enemies of “al-mujahideen” and saying that if they kill, they should “kill by many.” This call was made to the group’s followers worldwide and asked them to remain patient, but also be ready when the “war” begins.
Al-Muhajir delivered greetings from ISIS’s newest leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, to all believers for their jihad and pledges of allegiance and the speedy manner in which they pledged their allegiance to him—all the way from “East Asia to West Africa, and from Europe in the north to Yemen in the south.”
He also added special regards to ISIS fighters in West Africa for sustaining their fight and conquests against the “nonbelievers” and congratulating them on “breaking their cross.”
A few hours after the speech was delivered, fighters in Syria began an offensive against members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the al-Busaira area. Pro-ISIS Telegram channels celebrated this attack and used the hashtag “#غزوة ــ الثأر ــ للشيخين” (“Revenge Incursion for the Two Sheikhs”).
The Five Messages
The audio release also included five messages addressed to current and former ISIS members, ISIS prisoners, and Muslims around the world, including Muslims in Europe and the United States. Overall, the five messages in the audio called for attacks on the group’s enemies, the so-called heretics and the nonbelievers.
Below are the main points highlighted in al-Muhajir’s five messages addressed to Muslims worldwide.
1) Message to the Prisoners
Abu Omar al-Muhajir addressed the imprisoned ISIS members, saying freeing them from their prisons is the group’s top priority and “an obligation and a debt.” He called on all fighters to spend time to plan, prepare, and execute operations to liberate all prisoners. He added that fighters should kill the prison guards and make them an example for the rest of the guards for violating the Muslims’ honor.
2) Message to Those Who Abandoned the Ranks
The second message was addressed to former ISIS fighters who left the ranks. Al-Muhajir strongly condemned their lack of effort to join in the battles and fight in the name of God and urged them to rejoin before they become prey for the enemy.
3) Message to the Muslim “Ummah”
The third message was addressed to the Muslim “Ummah,” or nation. Al-Muhajir called upon its people to look at their governments’ efforts to make peace with Israel, saying that these governments have always been partners with Israel secretly but now are demonstrating it openly and contradicting all the slogans they formerly used to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem. He added that Jerusalem will only be liberated by “al-Muwahideen,” a term ISIS leaders have used to describe the group and its followers.
He also said the group condemns the Abraham Accords, the Shias and their offense against Sunni symbols represented by Prophet Muhammad’s companions (known in Arabic as “al-Sahabah”), and women’s rights laws.
4) Message to Those Who Fight the State
The fourth message Al-Muhajir addressed was to all so-called nonbelievers and heretics who fight ISIS and its presence. Al-Muhajir said that ISIS and its fighters are in this war to raise the name of God above all and for God’s law to preside over human-made laws—they are not fighting to gain territory or a piece of land.
5) Message to the ‘Lone Wolves’
The fifth and last message was addressed to Muslims in Europe and the United States. Al-Muhajir called on them to follow the lead of past “lone wolves” who conducted operations that “filled [the United States and Europe] with terror.” He asked them to repeat these operations by stabbing, attacking, and ramming, and taking the recent attacks that took place in Israel in late March as an example to follow.
Al-Muhajir also urged fighters in the West to choose their targets carefully and observe them well, adding, “They are plenty and the opportunity is available before you now.” The spokesperson further noted that Europe is now divided and “the crusaders” are fighting each other, almost certainly in reference to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Perspectives on the Russia-Ukraine war
The ISIS spokesperson also said that the US and Europe are afraid of the Russia-Ukraine war, mainly because they are “forced to enter” it as Russia “attempts to restore the glory of the ‘Soviet Union.’”
Al-Muhajir added that as the US and Europe enter this war “slowly,” they are also dragging other nations into it so as the consequences or losses caused by it are not endured by one country over another.
ISIS’s spokesperson concluded his remarks on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war with a prayer saying “We ask God that they busy themselves with each other and divide their word and may they destroy each other.”
Reflections of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani
Similar calls to arms were made by ISIS’s first and perhaps most notorious spokesperson, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. In 2014 and 2015, al-Adnani was featured in messages in which he called explicitly for attacks on Western targets by use of unsophisticated tactics such as stabbings. Al-Adnani’s speeches were filled with charged language, and while causation cannot be ascertained, several jihadists subsequently conducted attacks in the West utilizing these unsophisticated tactics. For instance, in the United States, a couple shot and killed at least fourteen people and injured 21 in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. In Europe, at least 130 people were killed and 350 others were injured in a series of attacks in France following a coordinated effort by eight pro-ISIS fighters who carefully selected their targets across Paris.
Protect company personnel, assets, and infrastructure with Flashpoint
Safeguarding company personnel, assets, and infrastructure from physical threats posed by adversaries, ranging from insiders and hacktivists to violent extremists, is inherently challenging and resource-intensive. Sign up for a free trial today to see how Flashpoint can empower your security teams.