Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terror groups use the Capitol attack to inspire operatives and incite violence
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- Al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin...[+]
- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Affected Countries: united-states;
In the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, global terror groups who took no part in the storming have found a point of admiration in the tactics of domestic extremists, a news story to hold up as justification in their claims that America is weak from within and vulnerable, and a model of inspiration for their own operatives to similarly target locations that hold deep symbolism and may not be as secure as once thought.
Domestic terror movements and Islamist terror groups have long shared similar themes and memes in the ways they recruit and incite as extremists of varying ideologies feed off each other’s best practices. These include using current events to stoke grievances and appealing to existing grievances to reel in sympathizers and recruits while encouraging revenge, promoting the accelerationist belief that societal collapse will hasten their aims to construct a civilization with their ideology dominant, promising training and operations intended to appeal to recruits’ feelings of inadequacy, and heavily promoting successful attacks – regardless of the perpetrators – in order to encourage both cells and lone actors to learn from the attacks’ flaws and emulate the high points.
The Capitol attack has shown how these can intersect in one ideology holding aloft the operations of another, with both ISIS and al-Qaeda hailing the storming of the Capitol and expanding discussion of the events to help advance their own operational goals.
Two weeks ago, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s al-Malahem Media released a 20-minute video, “America and the Painful Seizure,” that started with two minutes of footage from the attack on the Capitol – starting with the shooting of Ashli Babbitt by Capitol Police as she tried to climb through a door’s shattered window to breach the speaker’s lobby. “Do not be afraid of the night; the dawn is about to loom… the puppets of injustice will fall,” a nasheed intoned as AQAP showed scenes of the Capitol breach, rioters inside the Senate, and attackers searching Capitol offices.
AQAP leader Khalid Batarfi began the video with a dig at America’s toll in the COVID-19 pandemic that “paralyzed the strong” in which “the politicians and doctors were in disagreement and those who claim knowledge failed to tackle it and reduce its risks.”
“So starting with the hurricanes and tornadoes that Allah sends to them, which destroy houses and displace many people from their lands, in addition Allah the exalted afflicted her people with diseases and epidemics which are concentrated on them, such as anthrax,” Batarfi continued. “Also Allah afflicted her with economic crises, which paralyzed her and baffled her politicians.” He continued by listing episodes of “torment” against America in the first bombing of the World Trade Center, embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole bombing, and the 9/11 attacks, culminating in U.S. military forces “bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan, which forced her to negotiate with the Taliban movement.” The terror leader then referenced “the continuing of individual operations in America”; at the end of the video, Naval Air Station Pensacola shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was memorialized.
Batarfi said that America’s “haughtiness and arrogance” continued and “unjust and tyranny also befell her citizens,” citing social justice issues, economic inequality, unemployment, crime, and suicide and mental health issues. “Today America takes the lion’s share of epidemic corona and comes at the top of the list of the perished, which has reached more than 400,000,” he said, putting the date of the recording after that Jan. 19 milestone.
“We are also witnessing how America’s politicians started to butt one another like bulls, cursing one another, and her miserable people demolishing her pillars, shaking her entity, and cursing the politicians and the masters,” the AQAP leader continued. “The incident of breaking into the Congress is only a little bit of what will happen to them, by permission of Allah. And whoever thinks that this matter will be ceased at this limit or that somebody can stop the overwhelming imminent collapse of America certainly is mistaken and deceived.”
The video concluded with Al-Shabaab’s drone footage of the Jan. 5, 2020, attack that killed three Americans and destroyed several aircraft at Camp Simba in Kenya. The al-Qaeda affiliate released that new video late last month.
A full-page article in ISIS’ official weekly al-Naba newsletter released the Friday after the attack used a Reuters photo of a police flashbang illuminating the west front of the Capitol in an effort to disperse rioters. With the image of the Capitol shrouded in smoke, flames, and attackers, the terror group hailed the “great” symbolism of breaching the building “during a meeting of the tyrants,” and said the history of America “over the past decades” reveals a pattern of “greater and more serious internal events.”
ISIS admired the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas so much that the group claimed for months that shooter Stephen Paddock was “a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting coalition countries,” even as it became readily apparent that Paddock had no apparent ideological motive. Their motive for the disinformation campaign was clear: Paddock and his crime were held aloft as inspiration for jihadists, from his high sniper vantage point to the choice of target. Their campaign had many months to gain traction and plant seeds in the minds of would-be jihadists before the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report revealed Paddock “was not a religious person, did not believe in any higher power, and found religious people to be ridiculous.”
ISIS’ circulation of warnings against Las Vegas, photos depicting crosshairs on the Strip, and beseeching Western supporters to “answer the call” and attack underscored their reliance on high-profile attacks to stir lone actors to action. The Vegas mass shooting – even after ISIS stopped insistently calling Paddock “Abu Abdul Barr al-Amriki” – was used as a tactical example for would-be jihadists to emulate. The 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting is similarly held aloft by the terror group as an example of a lone supporter attacking a soft target with devastating results, and the November 2015 Paris attacks are still referenced as a blueprint for complex coordinated attacks.
In short, high-profile attacks regardless of the perpetrators serve as training for lone or cell operatives – as details of the attacks are laid bare in media reports and judicial proceedings, and open discussion about these details is abundant on the airwaves and online, ISIS and al-Qaeda adherents in addition to domestic terrorists can listen and learn both best practices and pitfalls.
As what was believed to be a hard target is breached, it serves as a recruitment tool for all of these groups with a message of “if these attackers can do it, so can you.” In a special Inspire magazine supplemental released after the Orlando attack, AQAP stressed that Omar Mateen “capitalized on the means available at his reach” and inspired “every new lone mujahid [to] try to do his best to realize and attain similar or more fatalities in his operation…especially when they see how easy it is to execute an operation.”
Al-Qaeda and ISIS also try to use these attacks to not just inspire their faithful but propel them into the attack stages. To incite, they highlight the cost suffered by those targeted – in the AQAP video, the scenes of attackers in the halls of the Capitol – and the relative ease with which the attack was conducted, along with hailing the act of the attack itself and underscoring what such an attack could do to buoy a movement or group.
ISIS declared in al-Naba that rioters “being seen breaking into one of the most important centers of sovereignty in America” signaled that domestic unrest left the country vulnerable. “What matters to us in all of this is that America the crusader will be busy more with herself and that political struggle inside it will pay off,” ISIS added, predicting fewer resources would be dedicated to fighting international terror groups in terms of funding and forces.
Batarfi said in the AQAP video that they could “fill the vacuum America will leave,” and called for “mobilizing the mujahedeen to support the religion and sacrifice for the sake of Allah.” He called for operatives to be focused and not distracted from their mission, and told followers to “beware of the repeated abortive experiments in the past.”
ISIS supporters in India who publish The Voice of Hind magazine online each month declared last week that the Capitol attack showed that America was now in an “ever fragile state and the worst is yet to come.” The article, which declared President Biden an enemy because of his legislative career and son Beau Biden’s military service in Iraq, further called it “incumbent upon the Muslims to fight these devils and not to fear their might in terms of their technology, weaponry and military capabilities.”
Source: HS Today