The Simple Tools We Can Use But Choose Not To
Since mid-2014, ISIS has promoted a narrative, particularly in the propaganda tailored for their audiences in the West, that the group’s leader and self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, considers allegiance to the group to be demonstrated not only in words but by action. This can take the form of either hijrah (emigration) to the “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, to help defend and expand territorial holdings, or jihad, to be waged at home. In late 2015, ISIS shifted its efforts from recruiting Western fighters to petitioning them to launch attacks in the West. Months later, the group’s original spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who died in 2016, acknowledged during his Ramadan address just months before he was killed by a U.S. air strike that the barriers to making hijrah had grown too high for many in the West, insisting that targeting civilians in the United States and Europe was now “more beloved.” A spate of attacks ensued. ISIS has now claimed responsibility for more than a dozen of them in the West, perpetrated by both the group’s operatives and its supporters, many of whom were trained not formally in conflict zones but online.