The latest issue of the Islamic State’s magazine, "Dabiq," includes a foreword praising the actions of Man Haron Monis, the man who held 17 people hostage in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, earlier this month. Two of the people held hostage by Monis -- Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson -- were killed in the siege.
"Dabiq," a full-color, heavily illustrated magazine, is published by the Islamic State group’s media arm, Al- Hayat, and is distributed as a PDF file on social media. Its latest edition was released on December 24 and is titled “Al-Qaidah of Waziristan: A Testimony From Within.” It includes an interview with Lieutenant Moaz Kassasbeh, the Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State gunmen last week after his fighter jet crashed during a bombing run over Raqqa in Syria, as well as a piece apparently written by British hostage John Cantlie about Islamic State’s plans to introduce a gold-based currency.
This edition of "Dabiq" opens with a lengthy unsigned foreword, glorifying Sydney hostage-taker Monis for carrying out a “daring raid.”
A self-styled Muslim cleric, Monis was an Iranian granted political asylum in Australia in 1996. At the time of the siege, he faced a raft of serious criminal charges, including 40 sexual and indecent assault charges.
During the siege, Monis asked police for an Islamic State flag. Athough Monis is not known to have had any affiliation with the extremist group, Dabiq portrayed him as a man who had “resolved to join the mujahedin (fighters) of the Islamic State” and praised him for carrying out an attack against the “crusader coalition” -- Islamic State’s term for the U.S.-led coalition against it in Iraq and Syria -- on his home soil.
Rather than “undertaking the journey to the lands of the Khalifah (Islamic State’s term for the areas under its control) and fighting side by side with his brothers,” Monis had acted alone and hit “the kuffar (infidels) where it would hurt them most -- in their own lands and on the very streets where they presumptively walk in safety.”
Dabiq also emphasized that the attack perpetrated by Monis had not been complicated to carry out, yet he had “prompted mass panic, brought terror to the entire nation.”
The "Dabiq" article praising (and coopting) the actions of Monis in Sydney is not the first time that the Islamic State group has called for Muslims in the West to carry out similar “lone wolf” attacks against local targets in their home countries.
These calls have increasingly become a part of Islamic State’s official propaganda via the Al-Hayat media wing, but similar calls to action have also been made by Islamic State militants outside of the auspices of Al- Hayat.
Two recent videos issued by Al-Hayat have featured Western militants calling on Muslims in France and Canada to commit terrorist acts on domestic soil if they are not able to travel to Syria to join Islamic State there.
The first video, titled "What Are You Waiting For?", is in French with Arabic subtitles and was released on November 20. In it, a French militant named Abu Salman told French Muslims to “operate within France. Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror. There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit.”
On December 8, Islamic State released another video featuring Canadian convert John Maguire, who now goes under the name Abu Anwar al-Kanadi. In language that is highly reminiscent of that used in the "Dabiq" foreword, Maguire said that Canadian Muslims would carry out attacks in Canada “where it hurts you most. On your very own soil.”
Maguire referred to two terror attacks in Canada, including the October attack allegedly carried out by 25-year-old Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau, who rammed his car into two Canadian Forces members in Montreal, killing one of them.
An earlier video, made by a group of ethnic Chechen Islamic State militants in Kobani, called on North Caucasian Muslims living in Europe to commit terrorist acts there. “There are no civilians. Kill them all wherever they are, that is in Europe itself. Kill just one Frenchman, one American.”
The trend of Islamic State praising acts of domestic terror and calling for others appears to come amid increased measures to prevent potential militants from traveling to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State there, and amid reports that U.S.-led air strikes have killed more than 1,100 jihadists.
Even though the air strikes have not yet succeeded in routing the Islamic State group, they have made a difference in the way that the militants are fighting, and they have caused losses.
The messages given by Islamic State are that if potential militants cannot come to Syria then they are not exempt from joining in the fighting, and that they must attack the West by “bringing the war back to their own soil,” as "Dabiq" put it.
The French video, "What Are You Waiting For?", primarily calls on French Muslims to come to Syria or Iraq, and offers the alternative of murdering French civilians at home if this is not possible; the Chechen video has a similar message.
The "Dabiq" foreword takes this message a step further, praising Sydney hostage-taker Monis for his “daring raid” which was carried out “rather than” go to Syria, not as a second-best option. In praising Monis for “joining the mujahedin of the Islamic State,” "Dabiq" also lauds the effectiveness of domestic terror on Western morale.
“All the West will be able to do is to anxiously await the next round of slaughter...The Muslims will continue to defy the kafir (infidel) war machine, flanking the crusaders on their own streets,” "Dabiq" added.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk