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English-Speaking IS Militants Laud Charlie Hebdo Attackers


A victim is evacuated on a stretcher after armed gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7.

A victim is evacuated on a stretcher after armed gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7.

As news broke of the January 7 terrorist shooting attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and in its immediate aftermath, English-speaking militants claiming to be with the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria took to Twitter to laud the attackers.

The IS militants heaped praise on the Charlie Hebdo attackers even though the group has not claimed responsibility for the Paris terrorist attack. Moreover, Said Kouachi, one of the two gunmen being sought by France in the massacre, is thought to have been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Apart from praise for the Paris gunmen, a common claim raised by the militants was that France and the West are, in their view, oppressing and even killing Muslims and that the attacks were therefore justified. None of the militants referred to the victims of the attack as civilians.

As news broke of the Paris attack, British female IS militant Umm Jafar Britaniyah, who is based in the Syrian town of Manbij, expressed her joy in a series of tweets.

After her initial reaction -- "ALLAHU AKBAR!!!!!! OUR brothers in France!!! May Allah reward them abundantly and grant them VICTORY AMEEN!!" -- Umm Jafar called on Allah to "help [the gunmen] kill as many kafirs [infidels] as they can."

Another female militant, who tweets in English under the name Umm Handhla posted her initial reaction to the attack: "ALLAHU.AKBAR buzzzzzzzzzzzzzn May allah protect the mujahideen in Franceeee!!! Shooting was maad!!"

A day after the shootings, a second British female militant, who tweets as Al-Britaniya and says she is based in Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria, reacted to the outpourings of condemnation against the Charlie Hebdo attack.

"I don't see no one condemning the death of my husband although he was droned," she tweeted, presumably referring to a drone attack that killed her militant husband.

Umm Handhla also revealed that her husband had been killed in a drone strike and said that France was responsible. Praising the attacks, she said that she hoped the gunmen would kill more Westerners in retaliation for the strike that killed her husband.

"The france [sic] drones hit my husband including 19 other brothers, i make dua [pray] that the mujahideens kill the pilot of that drone tooo!" she tweeted on January 7.

Other English-speaking IS militants justified the Charlie Hebdo attacks by arguing that France was an enemy of Muslims. A female militant, who goes by the name Bird Of Jannah ("Paradise") tweeted on January 9 that "France is an obvious enemy. Their hatred is strong."

The English-speaking militant also argued that France was responsible for killing Muslims. "Today they send their warplanes & weapons to kill Muslims in Syria and Yemen," she tweeted, presumably referring to France's membership of the U.S.-led international coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq.

Some IS militants have accused the coalition of attacking and killing not just them but also the general Muslim population in those countries.

On January 9, news broke that the suspects in the attack may have been surrounded by French security forces in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele northeast of Paris and that the two men had apparently expressed a wish to die as "martyrs" (in other words to be killed in a fight with the police rather than being taken alive).

A male militant, who calls himself Abu Junaid As-Somali, and who tweeted extensively about the Charlie Hebdo attack tweeted his wish that Allah grant the two men access to Paradise, because they had "muted & killed that filthy najis [a person regarded as ritually unclean] Charlie."

As-Somali had previously tried to claim that the IS group had been responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attack, tweeting about the "Islamic State wilayat [province] of Paris" and telling "Muslims of France" that they were lucky not to have to travel thousands of kilometers "to seek martyrdom."

As-Somali added, "Jihad is at ur doorstep, defend Islam there."

The militant's call for French Muslims to carry out attacks on their homeland echoes messages from IS militants in recent videos calling for Western Muslims to commit terror attacks in their home countries if they cannot come to Syria. One video, released by Islamic State's media wing, Al-Hayat, on November 20, 2014, features a group of French militants who urge French Muslims to carry out terrorist attacks in France.

"Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah," one French militant says in the video.

Bird of Jannah added that Muslims should not feel sorry for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. "If you love them and feel sad for what happened to them, verily you carry no Al Walaa wal Baraa [loyalty and disavowal]. Your aqeedah [belief] has distorted! Fear Allah!" she tweeted.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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