By: M. Shemesh*
Over the last few months, two media outlets supporting the Islamic State (ISIS) posted a series of nasheeds (religious songs) praising the massive attacks carried out by the organization in Europe, mainly the March 2016 attack in Brussels and the November 2015 attack in Paris. (ISIS and its supporters have yet to release any song addressing the June 2016 attacks in Orlando and Paris, or the July attacks in Nice and Wurzburg). The songs exalt the perpetrators of the attacks, heap scorn on the West and threaten more attacks to come. Some of the songs address specific Western leaders and figures, such as the song "Obama, the Mule of the Jews," which mocks the U.S. President's decision to withdraw from Iraq and to confine the war on ISIS to strikes from the air, or a song that is addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and "the dogs of Twitter." It should be noted that lyrics directly addressing the West and focusing on specific events are a new phenomenon in the songs produced by ISIS and its supporters.
The media outlets that disseminated the songs, called Asdaa ("Echoes") Audio Productions and Al-Thabat ("Constancy"), have filled the vacuum created by the decline of Al-Ajnad, ISIS's media wing that produces the organization's songs in Arabic. Al-Ajnad's activity has decreased significantly in the last few months, apparently due to the intense military pressure ISIS is under, and possibly also due to the death of Saudi singer Maher Mishal, who performed many of its songs, in a bombing in the summer of 2015. It should be mentioned that ISIS has also produced songs about the Paris and Brussels attacks in European languages, such as the French songs Par Amour ("For the Sake of Love") and Ma Vengeance ("My Vengeance") and the German Song Auf Zum Schlachten ("Rise Up for Slaughter"), by German rapper-turned jihadi Denis Cuspert, aka Deso Dogg, now known as Abu Talha Al-Almani.
Asdaa and Al-Thabat disseminate their productions via a Telegram channel called "Caliphate Audio Productions," and many of the songs are also uploaded to video-sharing sites such as YouTube. The productions are similar in their message and style to those of Al-Ajnad: each begins with an announcement, "Asdaa/Al-Thabat presents," and the song itself is unaccompanied by musical instruments (which are banned in Salafi Islam) but only by occasional sound effects (sounds of explosions, gunfire and the like). However, the quality of the lyrics and performance is poor, compared to Al-Ajnad's productions, and unlike the latter these songs are not incorporated in the soundtracks of ISIS videos. Accordingly, these songs are not as widely disseminated in the ISIS community.
This report presents details about the songs and a translation of their lyrics.
"Hell In Brussels"
Released by Asdaa on March 24, 2016, two days after the attacks at the Brussels airport and metro station, this song states that the fighters of ISIS have set the land of Belgium aflame and "destroyed the Cross," and left the Belgians' "hearts bleeding." Addressing the Belgians, and Europeans in general, it asks: "Didn't we tell you that we would... [reach] your fortresses soon?!" – meaning that the attack should have come as no surprise since ISIS had already promised to strike Belgium and Europe, and had now kept that promise.
The nasheed is performed a cappella by a male group, in several parts. The following are its lyrics:
Banner for the song "Hell in Brussels"
"We have turned Europe's night to day
We have set the land of Belgium aflame
We have raided the land of those who conquered [our lands]
With destruction that makes your children old [overnight]
"We starved the dogs of unbelief
We cried Allahu Akbar and destroyed the Cross...
"We have struck at the heart of the enemies' capital
We have defeated, and have left their hearts bleeding
"Didn't we tell you that we would arrive?!
[That we would reach] your fortresses soon, soon?!
"Didn't we promise you that a group of ruthless men
Would show you wonders?!"
"O Roum, We Have Come"
This song, produced by Asdaa on April 3, 2016, also refers to the Brussels and Paris attacks. Its title defiantly addresses the "Roum," i.e., the Byzantines, a term that in jihadi parlance refers to Europe or the Christian West at large, which is perceived as the heir of the Byzantines who fought the Muslims in the early Middle Ages. The song stresses that ISIS has targeted the very heart of Europe in order to avenge Islam, and promises that ISIS's "lions" (i.e., fighters) will carry out attacks in further European capitals, defying the forces of NATO. Its lyrics state:
Banner for the song "O Roum, We Have Come," with Asdaa logo
"O Roum, we have come to avenge Allah's religion
We seek justice by means of the sword and the battlefield
We have lions that, if their sanctities are violated
Will make the earth shake beneath your feet, O cowards
"Ask in Paris, [where] crosses have been hurled face downwards
And a nation has been filled with fear and pain
And ask also Brussels about the roaring lions
Who pounce upon their prey and devour it
"Ask there about bodies torn asunder
[strewn] in every valley, and about the [severed] limbs of the oppressors
Ask the recruited NATO forces:
Where are you, and what is your answer to the heroism of the sons of Islam
"In every alley there is a sword [waiting] to tear you to pieces
And in every fortress fires are raging
Every one of their limbs is distorted
And blood decorates their cheeks
"We shall strike [the infidels] in the Abode of Heresy
We shall penetrate the heart of the Abode of War
O dogs of heresy, today you shall taste our wrath
For our wrath shall destroy nations"
"We Have Destroyed Belgium"
This is another song disseminated by Al-Thabat and focusing on the Brussels attacks. Released on April 2, 2016, it is preceded by a segment from a speech by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in which he calls upon Muslims worldwide to unite under ISIS's banner and fight the enemies as one body. Addressing the claims that members of ISIS are terrorists and takfiris (i.e., accuse other Muslims of heresy), the song proclaims that these are badges of honor. It also stresses that ISIS fighters come to European cities for purposes of slaughter, not to make any agreements with the Europeans.
The song is performed by Al-Gharib Al-Maqdisi, who is familiar from other Al-Thabat productions. The lyrics and tune are based on the popular children's song Wen Ayamuna Wen ("Where Are Our [Good Old] Days, Where?"). This children's song has been used as the basis for other jihadi songs, which in fact form the basis for this one. Interestingly, the song makes reference not only to ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi but also to Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. When it mentions these two jihadi leaders, and when it mentions the destruction of Belgium, sounds of explosions are heard in the background. When it states that ISIS has turned the streets of Belgium into pools of blood, sounds of gunfire are heard, and the phrase "we have come to slaughter you" is accompanied by the sound of clashing swords.
The following are the song's lyrics:
Banner for the song "We Have Destroyed Belgium"
"Where are our [good old] days, where?
Where did we spend them?
They passed in the blink of an eye
How pleasant it is to recall them
"Allah is our destination
And He is our purpose
Our Sheikh Al-Baghdadi
Raised our banner for us
"Our commander bin Laden
He who the terrorized America
By the force of faith
And with our weapon, the Kalashnikov
"We destroyed Belgium
[With our] pouncing lions
All its streets became
A pool of blood
"O Crusader police force
Of heresy and hypocrisy
We have come to slaughter you
Not to [make] agreements
"And if they call me a terrorist
I shall say that the honor is all mine
Our terror is glorious
It is a divine calling
"And if they call me 'takfiri'
I shall say that the honor is all mine
Our takfir is based
Upon religious proofs"
"Belgium And Its Proxies Will Never Forget"
This song, likewise performed by Al-Maqdisi and dealing with the Brussels attack, as released by Al-Thabat on April 17. It states that Belgium and its "proxies" (i.e., its helpers and agents) will never forget ISIS's attacks on them, and neither will Iran and its proxies (including Beirut) and America and its proxies. The song follows an excerpt from a speech by ISIS's spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnani in which he states that the West will not invade ISIS territories but rather the opposite: ISIS will invade the West and conquer Rome. The song is based on a well-known poem by Muhammad Iqbal, Pakistan's national poet. Here too the singing is accompanied by sounds of explosion that come to underscore the threats against ISIS's enemies.
The lyrics are as follows:
Banner for the song "Belgium and Its Proxies Will Never Forget", featuring the photos of two of the attackers
"We were [mighty] as mountains among mountains
We crossed oceans riding upon waves
We voiced the call for prayer in the temples of the afranji [European, Westerner]
Before the battalions of the Islamic State conquered [entire] countries
"Belgium and its sculpted idols will never forget
Our raids as Paris went up in flames
Belgium and its proxies will never forget
Our laughter as Paris went up in flames
"Iran and its proxies will never forget
Our laughter as Beirut went up in flames
America and its proxies will never forget
Our laughter as the [Twin] Towers went up in flames
"We exposed our necks to the sword
We never fear an oppressive tyrant"
"Remove" – A Threatening Message To Twitter
A major arena of the media war between ISIS and its enemies is Twitter, which in recent years has been extensively used by ISIS and its supporters to spread their ideas and messages. The network's management, for its part, has worked to remove accounts containing incitement and violent content. This has resulted in a cat-and-mouse chase, with ISIS activists opening new accounts as soon as the old ones are shut down. Some accounts have been shut down and reopened dozens or even hundreds of times.
The song titled "Remove," disseminated by Al-Thabat on May 3, refers to this struggle. The banner that accompanies the song describes it as a message "from the supporters of the caliphate to [Twitter CEO] Jack [Dorsey] and the dogs of Twitter." The song itself states that the closure of the accounts will not keep ISIS activists from supporting the organization and its fighters on the battlefield, and that for each account shut down many others will emerge. This song too is performed by Al-Maqdisi. Its lyrics are:
Banner for the song "Remove"
"Remove [our accounts]. Since when do we care?
Do we live or die by Twitter accounts?
Remove [them], and we will continue striking you with our words
No matter how many [accounts] you remove, you shall not discourage us
For [even] bombardments do not keep us from supporting our [Islamic] State
So how can the removal [of accounts] prevent us [from doing so]?
Tell the pigs that our determination will not flag just because you remove [our accounts]
So rain curses upon us as you will
The Caliphate has thousands upon thousands [of men]
Who have taken up arms to defend the law of Allah and the [Islamic] faith
And they have an army of supporters who assist them
And keep both men and demons away from them
This is a great community blessed by the Lord of the Worlds,
and when [their Twitter] accounts are removed
Overnight, thousands and millions of others emerge
These are people who grasped hot coals without weakness
So they can bombard with it [their religion] any despicable or cursed individual
These are people for whom the [Koran and Sunna] are a source of authority
People who draw knowledge from the correct path and from [religious] proofs
They will roar [in outrage] whenever they encounter the renouncement of virtue
They will eliminate falsehood and annihilate those who have strayed from the correct path...
"So understand, O dogs who remove [our accounts]
No matter how you [try to] deceive us, you will never be able to harm us
We shall continue to shake [the ground beneath you], O cowards,
And if you have an answer, go ahead and reply"
"Obama The Mule Of The Jews"
Another song, posted by Al-Thabat on April 22, addresses the U.S. President. It is preceded by an excerpt from a September 2014 address by ISIS spokesman Al-'Adnani in which he called Obama "the Mule of the Jews" (an expression that has since become a common ISIS meme) and mocked his decision to bombard ISIS from the air while refraining from putting boots on the ground. The song, performed by Rayan Al-'Iraqi, laments the fact that U.S. soldiers managed to leave Iraq alive and states that even Iraq's palm trees and the waters of the Tigris felt sorry for ISIS's soldiers who did not get a chance to kill the Americans.
The following are its lyrics:
Banner for the song "Obama, the Mule of the Jews"
"I lamented the withdrawal of the invaders' convoys
[Even] the dust left behind [by these convoys] felt my pain
I cursed Obama [and asked him], why?
You were in such a hurry [to leave] that you had no patience?
The [very] palm trees and the waters of the Tigris felt my pain
The water-wheels on the Euphrates felt sorry for me, [saying]
We do not weep out of love for [the Americans]
But because they managed to leave [Iraq] alive.
The punishment the aggressors deserve is to return
In coffins and as splinters of bone."
* M. Shemesh is a research fellow at MEMRI.
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1228, February 16, 2016
 The only released by Al-Ajnad in the last few months is "For the Sake of Allah," from May 7, 2016.
 About the song "Ma Vengence," see MEMRI JTTM report: New Nashid In French Glorifies Self-Sacrifice, Martyrdom, February 8, 2016.
 About the song "Auf Zum Schlachten," see MEMRI JTTM report, New Nasheed By German Jihadi Denis Cuspert 'Rise Up For Slaughter' Threatens Western Cities Including Berlin, Paris, Rome, New York, April 19, 2016.
 See MEMRI JTTM report: ISIS Members In New Nasheed About Brussels Attacks: 'We Have Set The Land Of Belgium Aflame'; 'Didn't We Tell You That We Would... [Reach] Your Fortresses Soon?!', March 25, 2016.
 For 'Adnani's address, see MEMRI JTTM Report, Responding To U.S.-Led Campaign, IS Spokesman Calls To Kill Westerners, Including Civilians, By Any Means Possible, September 22, 2014.
 I.e., people who cleave to their religion. This expression derives comes from a hadith: "The people will see a time when one who adheres to his religion will be as one grasping a hot coal."