ISIS threatens Christmas and New Year's attacks across some of the world's biggest cities in new series of posters
As ISIS's strength weakens across the world, the organization is resorting to social media to spread terror.
As ISIS's stranglehold on its most important territories is systematically dismantled, the terrorist organization is resorting to threatening attacks across some of the world's most populous cities. In its most recent propaganda poster, instigated and circulated by its media arm Wafa Media Foundation, it promised to attack Paris on New Year's Day.
The image, which made its rounds on various social media, appears to show a crowd gathered in front of the iconic 200-year-old Arc De Triomphe. A graphic overlaid on the picture shows a hand wielding a bloody knife and a caption of 'We Will Make New Year's Day Hell,' pasted across it. It soon went viral, with thousands sharing the ominous threat. They were originally intercepted by BlackOps Cyber, a dark web intelligence agency, according to The Epoch Times.
The message comes in the wake of the fortification and bolstering of Christmas markets across Europe through the construction of gates and bollards to prevent the repetition of last year's attack in Berlin. On December 19 last year, ISIS militant Anis Amri deliberately drove a truck into the Christmas market next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and killed 12 people, injuring 56 more.
In response to the additional security measures enacted across the continent, the organization's propaganda wing released a poster and swore that: "If you put barriers to cars in front of markets, you will not prevent people from entering on foot." The warning also shows a masked and armed fighter lurking in the background, ready to strike.
The threat on the market was just one of several images said to be circulating amongst extremists, with the others portraying similarly grim scenarios. Each poster also has a 'Soon on your holidays' inscribed in English, German, and French. The organization has repeatedly threatened to bring terror to cities such as New York, Paris, London, and Rome across the holiday season and these posters seem to be their way of getting the message across.
The poster promising an attack on the big apple shows an image of Santa Claus standing on a rooftop looking over the city's Times Square with a warning: "We meet at Christmas in New York... soon." The poster aimed at Paris shows a hand gripping a bloodied knife, with a Christmas market and Eiffel Tower in the background, while the Rome poster shows a terrorist armed with a rocket launcher standing over St. Peters Square with the caption: "The crusader's feast in approaching, their convoys will crowd itself in front of you. Prepare and plan for them, show them the meaning of terrorism."
England had two posters targeting it, one aimed at the queen and the other at Big Ben. The former shows a bloody knife over a picture of the queen with the message: "Under observation...soon," and the latter features a crumbling Big Ben accompanied by a burning Union Jack and ISIS soldier which reads: "We will destroy your country as you have destroyed ours."
The group had also previously threatened a Christmas attack on St. Peter's Basilica, the papal enclave within the city of Rome and holy ground to Catholics from around the planet. That particular poster depicted a masked figure driving towards St. Peter's Basilica with a gun and a bag - possibly laden with explosives - in the car. The rearview mirror depicts a man in a ski mask, with the top left corner reading, 'Christmas Blood.' An ominous sounding 'So Wait...' can be seen scrawled across in red just below.
According to experts, such posters don't warn of direct threats, but that it is a call to arms for lone attackers waiting for their supposed moment in the sunshine; their opportunity to go out in a 'blaze of glory.'
That sentiment seemed to be vindicated by one of their posters which was titled 'O The Caliphate's Lone Wolves,' which called on fanatics to not hold back and that their reward would be 'paradise.' It warned that: "We will not exclude the young, elderly or women – you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is even worse."
Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group commented on the posters, saying: "Wafa Media Foundation specialises in these types of graphics. Wafa's threat, like others recently issued by pro-ISIS media groups, is a specific attack directive within a larger push by ISIS for lone wolf attacks as it rapidly loses territory in Iraq and Syria."
"Though these threats should be taken seriously, there is also a publicity element to pro-ISIS media groups' threats against places like the Vatican or events like 2018 FIFA World Cup," she added.
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