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ISIS Supporters React To Message From Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Praise The Quick Response Of Paris Attacker

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On August 22, 2018, the Islamic State (ISIS) released a 54-minute audio message from its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. ISIS last released a message from its leader in September 2017, fueling speculation by many, including some ISIS fighters, that Al-Baghdadi was dead or incapacitated.[1] ISIS supporters on social media immediately celebrated the publication of the message and distributed it widely across the internet.

The following are some of the reactions from ISIS supporters to Al-Baghdadi's message. Many supporters published similar responses.

Celebrating The Paris Attack As The Result Of Al-Baghdadi's Message

Some ISIS supporters celebrated the stabbing attack in Trappes, France, which took place the day following the release of Al-Baghdadi's speech, and for which ISIS claimed responsibility, as evidence of the message's effectiveness.[2] A Telegram channel using the name Qa'qa' News Agency quoted a report that the perpetrator shouted "Allah Akbar" before stabbing his victims commenting with the the hashtag #The_Words_Of_Amir_Al-Mu'mineen_Have_An_Active_Effect.[3] Another pro-ISIS channel posted this message: "Within less than ten hours, the monotheist ferocious lions respond to the call of our sheikh, Amir Al-Mu'mineen, the mujahid sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Husayni Al-Qurashi Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, in the audio message, "Glad Tidings to the Steadfast."[4]

Celebrating Proof That Al-Baghdadi Is Alive

An ISIS supporter using the handle Majza’ah Al-Qurashi commented that the message proves that Al-Baghdadi is still alive, and boasted that The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has been unable to eliminate or capture him: "O Crusaders, tear up your intelligence reports, poke out the eyes of your spies, and destroy the devices of your supposed technology and your satellites, for Allah is the best Protector and He is the most merciful."[5]

In an ISIS French-language chat group on Telegram,[6] other ISIS supporters commented: "Brother do you remember the pig who commented 'where is your Caliph?', May Allah break his bones and mouth [...] – Exactly! They will shut their dirty mouths for two or three weeks and start again with 'where is your Caliph?'"

Posters

Many individual supporters and pro-ISIS media outlets shared posters with quotes from the speech, focusing on various major points such as the message to continue to carry out attacks in the West. The posters often feature a photograph of Al-Baghdadi from his last and only public appearance in Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in 2014.

The above poster quotes the call to perpetrate attacks in the West.[7]

The above posters display quotes from Al-Baghdadi's speech.[8]

Celebrating The Media Attention That The Speech Received

Many supporters commented on the fact that the message spread so quickly throughout the internet and received attention from numerous media outlets. ISIS supporter Abu Osama Al-Adnani wrote in a Telegram post: "Sheikh Al-Baghdadi's audio message spreads like wildfire through all social media sites and its echo encompasses most [news] channels, agencies, and international newspapers, while the experts analyze it!" He contrasted the overwhelming attention paid to the ISIS leader's message with the world's indifference to messages from leaders of rival jihadi groups, such as Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani, and Taliban emir Hibatullah Akhundzada,[9] all of whom issued statements in recent days.[10] ISIS supporters gleefully flaunted the attention their leader's speech received by posting images of about twenty headlines from Arabic-language, English-language, and European media reporting on the speech.[11]

The pro-ISIS Bayda' Al-Muwahhideen Telegram channel explained that the world exhibits exceptional interest in communiques from the ISIS leader because only ISIS translates its threats into action, unlike other jihadi groups who issue empty statements. Questioning why only scant attention was paid to messages from Al-Qaeda, HTS, or Taliban leaders, he wrote: "The answer is that they are not a source of danger and do not constitute any concern! Can anything be expected from an old, senile man [a reference to Al-Zawahiri] who swore allegiance to a dead man [a reference to his alleged oath of allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar], or a nationalist movement [Taliban] which has no relation to anything but its country, or a treacherous oath-breaker [Al-Joulani] who sold all [his allies] and has no one left?! When the enemies realized the earnestness of the Islamic State and that it implements Islam to the last detail and flatters no one when it comes to Allah's religion, they reckoned with it and it became their only concern, and they studied their words and deeds day after day."[12]

  

The above screenshots from the Adam Al-Ikhbariyah Telegram channel portray English-, Italian-, French- and Arabic-language media, reporting on Al-Baghdadi's speech.

The above screenshot from the Al-Maw'id Dabiq Telegram channel shows Tweets from media sources reporting on Al-Baghdadi's speech.

Reactions To Al-Baghdadi's Call To Rely Only On Official ISIS Media

One of the topics mentioned by Al-Baghdadi which generated the most discussion among ISIS supporters online was his explicit exhortation to rely only on news reported by the organization’s official media. This resolves what has long been a point of contention between opposing camps of pro-ISIS social media users, with some relying on sources outside the organization and others insisting that only the official ISIS media should be considered legitimate.[13]

Telegram user Abu Qusayy commented: "The suspicious ones gave us a headache [claiming] that the Central Media Diwan of the Islamic State is controlled by extremists and that the Caliph is fighting the extremists in the Media Diwan. Then boom, suddenly comes the shocking, earth-shattering response from the same Caliph to the supporters to abide by the official [reports] issued by the Media Diwan. So what should we understand from them? Has the Caliph become an extremist? … Or must you admit your vileness and treachery?[14]

On a similar note, Telegram user Sa’iq wrote: "This is a message to every lying and falsifying hypocrite who claims that exposing those who do not abide by the official [media] constitutes division of the ranks, gossip, and quarreling."[15]

The importance that ISIS supporters attribute to their caliph’s words on this subject is apparent in the posters that were created and distributed immediately following the release of Al-Baghdadi’s speech, which display the sections clarifying that only official ISIS media should be trusted. [16]

The above poster created by ISIS supporters features the quote from Al-Baghdadi's speech in which he urges supporters to rely only on official ISIS media sources.

Praise And Blessings From Supporters

Many supporters offered praise and blessings to Al-Baghdadi. French ISIS supporter Abu Tamima wrote on Telegram[17]: "Oh Emir of the believers, May Allah bless your life and protect it from bullets, bombs, and malicious tongues and gazes. You changed the lives of the Muslims in these times and forever...You have given a new hope to the Muslim nation, and you have raised its head when it was downcast, you have lit the candles in all our hearts. Now, everyone knows it is possible to create an Islamic empire, an Islamic State... When you speak, every unbeliever, apostate and Muslims alike, stops to listen to you, focusing on each word you pronounce, the unbeliever with fear, the apostate with anger and the Muslim with happiness. And whatever the cheaters and hypocrites say, our eyes will always be set on Damascus, Baghdad and Rome."

Another ISIS supporter using the Telegram handle Hayzoum praised Al-Baghdadi for making no mention of his personal affairs: "Two months ago, the Caliph's son was killed, [yet] he did not eulogize him in a 53-minute-long audio message even for half a minute."[18]

A French-speaking ISIS supporter shares a portrait of Al-Baghdadi and offers his blessings and prayers.

(Source: Telegram.me/ Hilf Al Moutayyabin, August 26, 2018.)

 

[2] See MEMRI JTTM Report ISIS Claims Responsibility For Stabbing Attack In Paris, August 23, 2018.

[3] Source: Telegram.me/ Qa'qa' News Agency, August 23, 2018.

[4] Source: Telegram.me/ Adam News, August 24, 2018.

[5] Source: Telegram.me/ Majza’ah Al-Qurashi, August 23, 2018.

[6] Source: Telegram.me/ Hilf Al Moutayyabin, August 22, 2018.

[7] Source: Telegram.me/Al-Battar foundation, August 25, 2018.

[8] Source: Telegram.me/Al-'Azam foundation, August 24, 2018.

[10] Source: Telegram.me/ Abu Osama Al-Adnani, August 23, 2018.

[11] Source: Telegram.me/ Al-Maw’id Dabiq, Telegram.me/ Adam Al-Ikhbariyah, Telegram.me/ Haqiqat News, August 23, 2018.

[12] Source: Telegram.me/ Bayda’ Al-Muwahhideen, August 23, 2018.

[15] Source: Telegram.me/ Sa’iq, August 24, 2018.

[16] Source: Telegram.me/Adam News, August 23, 2018.

[17] Source: Telegram.me/ Hilf Al Moutayyabin, August 26, 2018.

[18] Source: Telegram.me/ Hayzoum, August 23, 2018.