In The Words Of The Islamic State: Understanding The Rationale Behind The November 13 Paris Attacks

November 16, 2015

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


In the past year, the Islamic State (ISIS) has published six issues[1] of its official French-language magazine Dar Al-Islam.[2] The magazine, which is dedicated to recruiting Francophone fighters to ISIS, is also a platform for the organization to present and explain its doctrine and methods.

The slickly designed Dar Al-Islam is edited by Francophone operatives of the Al-Hayat media group, ISIS's official foreign-language media office. The articles themselves generally have no byline, and many are originally in French, as opposed to translations of previously published ISIS material. The magazine is distributed online via Twitter and other social media platforms.

In light of the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks, this report will present excerpts from issues of Dar Al-Islam that can help illustrate the rationale behind these attacks. These excerpts show how ISIS has, throughout 2015, regularly threatened France, its interests, and its citizens. They also present the messages to which the Francophone ISIS operatives who carried out the Paris attacks could have been exposed, as part of ISIS's propagation of its ideology.

Cover of Issue 2 of Dar Al-Islam: "May Allah curse France"

What Is Dar Al-Islam And Why Publish A Magazine In French?

In the second issue's introduction, Dar Al-Islam's editors clearly present the magazine's objectives:

"Dar Al-Islam is a tool to incite people to perform Hijra [i.e. to emigrate] and make jihad, and a modest contribution by some Francophone brothers who live in the Caliphate and who see around them this state being built on the blood of their brothers. There is a time for everything, a time to live, a time to die, a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to love, [and] a time to hate, and the time has come to act and to save the religion by the tongue, heart, limbs, pen, and sword."

This constitutes the Islamic State's core message to Muslims worldwide: Immigrate to join the jihad with ISIS, in order to fight the enemies of Islam and strengthen the legitimate Caliphate.

After The January 2015 Paris Attacks: "The Time Has Come For The Believers To Go Forth"

Dar Al-Islam's second issue, released days after the January 2015 terror attacks in Paris, focused on praising the attacks and justifying more of them against the West, specifically France and French citizens. It also warned of more attacks to come:

"The disbeliever states have understood the consequences of the return of the Caliphate: the end of the domination by the Jews, the Crusaders and their allies. Every sincere Muslim must migrate to one of the regions of the Islamic State, the land of Islam, and leave the land of disbelief led by the worst tawaghit [tyrants] of this world, who constantly war against our community. The time has come for the believers to go forth, to recover the land, and not to let these tyrants rest for one second...

"The Muslim cannot stay away from this land [of Islam] without being assailed by regret and without the desire to join it in order to get closer to his Lord. A group of them, which we honor in this issue, decided to strike the enemy in his own land, so that it realizes that war is not waged behind a TV or by voting in a parliament. France needs to mourn its dead as we mourn our own; may they see the blood of their own people flow like we see that of our own...

"We have no aircraft to bomb you as you bomb us. We have men who love death as you love life. When they sacrifice themselves for their religion, for their brothers and sisters, we mourn them, in the certainty that they are with their Lord in His Paradise."

"[French President] Francois Hollande, French Taghut [Tyrant]"

A Leitmotiv: France Is An Impure Crusader State Leading The War On Islam

In a September 14, 2014 audio message following the first strikes by the newly formed anti-ISIS coalition,[3] ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-'Adnan made statements that are quoted regularly by ISIS fighters and supporters; these statements have appeared several times in Dar Al-Islam. The following are the most-quoted passages concerning France, in which Al-'Adnani calls on all Muslims to target the Islamic State's enemies, specifically naming the French and others:

"Your state is facing a new crusade. Oh monotheists, wherever you may be, what are you doing to help your brethren? What are you waiting for, while mankind has split into two camps, and the war intensifies from day to day? Oh monotheist, we urge you to defend the Islamic State, as dozens of countries have banded against it and have begun fighting us on every front. Arise, monotheist, and defend your state from your place of residence, wherever you may be... Oh monotheist, don't sit out this war, wherever you may be. [Attack] the tyrants' soldiers, their police and security forces, their intelligence [forces] and collaborators. Cause them to lose sleep, make their lives miserable, and cause them to be preoccupied with their own [problems]. If you are able to kill an American or European infidel – particularly any of the hostile, impure Frenchmen – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any [other] infidel enemy from the countries that have banded against the Islamic State, then put your trust in Allah and kill him, by any way or means...

"Oh monotheists, wherever you are, cause [the West] to let go of the Islamic State, to the best of your ability. The best thing to do would be to kill any French or American infidel or any of their allies... If you cannot [detonate] a bomb or [fire] a bullet, arrange to meet alone with a French or an American infidel and bash his skull in with a rock, slaughter him with a knife, run him over with your car, throw him off a cliff, strangle him, or inject him with poison."

Defending The Islamic State Against France, A Crusader State And Modern Standard-Bearer Of Secularism And Democracy

France is very often described in Dar Al-Islam as a corrupt Crusader state, leading the war on Islam and the Muslims. In one article, titled "A History of France's Enmity Towards Islam," the unnamed authors present what they perceive as France's historical war against Islam and the Muslims. The article argues that France is the enemy of Islam, both through its old Christian history and heritage from the Crusades era and as the symbol of modern secularism. Thus, it says, ISIS's fight against France is self-defense against a nation that is, according to the article, the incarnation of evil and hatred towards Islam:

"If a Muslim wants to understand this enmity, he must understand the history of this country and its people. Two major steps are noteworthy.

"The first is the result of corrupt royalty together with a lying and perverted clergy who ruled the country with an iron fist. During this period, that historians call the 'old regime,' France fought Islam through the Crusades. She was not simply a partisan of the crusades, she was the instigator. The First Crusade (1096-1099) against Islam was caused by the propaganda of a French Pope, Urban II, who returned to France to call upon the clergy and the nobility to fight Islam.

"After the 1789 revolution fomented by Masonic lodges, France found itself another religion just as false and idolatrous as Roman Catholicism: democracy and secularism. The French elites, still as corrupt and immoral, continued to fight Islam, this time in the name of progress and reason, during the colonial wars in which France invaded and occupied the Maghreb, Egypt, and, during Napoleon's campaign, part of the Levant [as well]. Colonial massacres were carried out during that period. Open war against Islamic laws was conducted...

"Laws banning the hijab [women's headscarf] or anti-terrorist laws that permit the imprisonment of any Muslim without any serious evidence – these are like slaps in the face of every Muslim who still believes it is possible to coexist with unbelievers, or worse, to live [in] Islam under the authority of the unbelievers."

Dar Al-Islam features many images such as the one above, which shows men being taken to be slaughtered, accompanied by Koran 2:171: "The unbelievers are like livestock at whom one shouts..."

France Is Leading The War Against Islam And The Muslims – And Fighting France Is A Response To Their Attacks

The Islamic State discourse clearly sets France as its No. 2 enemy, after the U.S., among the Western "Crusader" powers, and sometimes even as its No. 1 enemy. The following except from a Dar Al-Islam article shows that according to ISIS rationale, fighting France through terror attacks is retaliation for France's leading role in the anti-ISIS coalition:

"No one can therefore ignore that France is inhabited by an irrational and blind hatred against Islam and the Muslims, which has led it to place itself at the head of the coalition against the Caliphate. This weak country, in full economic and moral crisis, whose people are made into idiots by entertainment, where tabloids are read more than the political press, declares war on a state in which each inhabitant is a potential fighter who has followed military training and who wages war for his faith, hoping for eternal Paradise if he is killed.

"Just days after the [January 2015] attacks of the blessed brother Abu Basir [Amedy Coulibaly], the French parliament voted unanimously to extend the strikes against the Caliphate, thus exposing themselves to other attacks on their national soil."

Two French fighters who carried out suicide attacks in Iraq

The "Martyrdom Operation" Methodology

The magazine praises several French suicide attackers, and elevates them to heroic status for their sacrifice. Praise for death "for the sake of Allah" is a very common theme in all of ISIS literature, and several articles in Dar Al-Islam have presented suicide attacks as justified and desirable. An article titled "Legitimacy Of Martyrdom Operations"[4] states:

"Those who weep and lament 'civilian victims' of martyrdom operations should know that, for Allah, tyrants' governing countries and rushing the peoples into apostasy is far worse. Additionally, those who weep and lament for civilian victims – why don't they do the same for the young, pious, and pure who have sacrificed their lives to raise the word of Allah?"

This statement's argument for the legitimacy of suicide attacks is specifically oriented towards Muslims who feel differently about the matter, and, more generally, towards Muslims who do not support ISIS and are critical of its methodology.

Another article, "What Awaits Him Who Does Not Make Hijra," adds:

"There is no better way to avoid prison than to follow the command of Allah to arm oneself and take precautions. And no better weapon to avoid prison than the explosive belt worn by our brothers, emirs and soldiers in the state of monotheism, the Islamic Caliphate."

Another article[5] suggests possible targets for attacks, as well as safety measures for operatives to take:

"During your operations, you must always be sure of what you target, and also have backup plans for each of your major plans. Always target crowded areas, such as tourist spots, supermarkets, synagogues, churches, Masonic lodges, political party offices, and places where apostates preach, in order to create fear in their hearts."

Abu Bakr Al-Hakim aka Abu Muqatil Al-Tunsi, featured in Dar Al-Islam

ISIS Fighter: The ISIS Flag Will Fly In France, We Are Coming For You

A number of ISIS videos have featured French fighters calling for attacks on French soil, as well as threatening France with retaliation for its involvement in the international coalition against ISIS.[6] In a written interview in Issue 3 of Dar Al-Islam, the well-known French-Tunisian ISIS fighter Abu Bakr Al-Hakim, aka Abu Mouqatil Al-Tounissî, delivers the same ominous message. Al-Hakim has a long jihadi career; he fought in Iraq against the U.S. in 2003 and is believed to have murdered two senior political figures in Tunisia after having spent several years in jail in France:

"[Interviewer:] Do you have a message for the brothers in France?

"[Al-Hakim:] I call on them to wake up and fight the enemies of Allah for the sake of Allah. By Allah, you have to wake up and fight, if you see what they are doing here with their planes, how they terrify our women and children, how they strive day and night to destroy this state and with Allah's permission, they will never succeed in doing that. I encourage them to follow the path of the brothers who conducted operations there...

"[Interviewer:] Do you have a message for the unbelievers in France?

"[Al-Hakim:] I tell them: very soon you will see the banner of monotheism float over the Elysée [French presidential palace]. The Islamic State is very close today. Only the sea separates you and us. With Allah's permission, we are coming to you. And, with Allah's permission, your wives and children will be sold at the markets of the Islamic State."


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