Accessibility links

Breaking News

Tracking Islamic State

IS Supporters Praise Paris Attacks On Social Media

A French policeman places flowers outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris the morning after nearly 100 people were killed there by Islamist gunmen.

Even before the Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for the deadly Paris attacks that killed more than 120 people, its supporters took to Twitter to praise the carnage.

When news of the attacks unfolded late on November 13, IS supporters quickly created several Arabic hashtags on Twitter, including "the State of Caliphate Hits France," "France is Burning," and "Paris is Burning."

Twitter appears to have deactivated the first hashtag, but the others remained in use the morning of November 14 despite requests from Twitter users that these hashtags also be banned. The "Paris is Burning" hashtag was also used during the January terrorist attacks in Paris targeting the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

The pro-IS accounts using the hashtag did not attribute responsibility for the attack to IS.

But some used the hashtag to suggest that the Paris attacks were a fulfillment of a promise made in a March 2015 audio message by IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who said that IS "with God's help wants Paris before Rome."

The phrase "Paris before Rome" was repeated in many tweets with some pro-IS supporters saying that now IS would advance "to Rome and all over the world."

Most of the pro-IS accounts used the "Paris Is Burning" hashtag to express praise for the killings and tweeted updates about the death toll.

IS and pro-IS accounts on other social media platforms also praised the Paris attacks.

A Russian-speaking IS militant warned on the VKontakte social network that there would be more attacks in countries involved in the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria.

"If you think that it is only in France then no, it is everywhere where there are countries that went into the coalition," the militant, Amir Amirov, threatened.

"Now we will not choose who to kill, we inshallah (God willing) will kill anyone. Find a place where you can escape from IS if you can."

Al-Qaeda

Some social media accounts linked to militants fighting alongside Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra also praised the attacks and suggested that Al-Qaeda could be the perpetrator.

An account on the Russian social networking site VKontakte run by Abu Rofik, an Al-Qaeda publicist in Syria, said the Paris attacks were "probably" carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

"Whether it was IS or AQAP makes no difference.... A year ago we saw these creatures with placards [saying] 'We Are All Charlie Hebdo'...mocking our Prophet," Abu Rofik wrote. He was referring to the popular slogan that emerged in support of the victims of the January attacks against the satirical magazine, which had printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Calls For Attacks

IS has previously used French militants fighting in its ranks to call for attacks against civilians in France. A propaganda video released by the extremist group in November urged French Muslims to carry out terror attacks by any means possible.

"Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror," one French militant in the video advised.

Abu Saloh, the leader of Jannat Oshiqlari (Loving Paradise)

A group of Uzbek citizens arrested in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent, were allegedly planning to go to Syria to join a militant group there, according to the 12news.uz news site, which has links to the country's National Security Service (SNB).

A security source told 12news.uz that the group -- whose numbers were not revealed -- had been attempting to join the Jannat Oshiqlari (Loving Paradise) group in Syria.

Recruitment & Propaganda

Jannat Oshiqlari is also known as Tawhid wal-Jihod (TWJ), an Uzbek-led group based in Aleppo Province. The group recently pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The Uzbek reports of the arrest of individuals seeking to join TWJ suggests that the militant group has upped its recruitment efforts in Uzbekistan.

TWJ runs a slick propaganda effort that broadcasts its activities in Syria.

The group has two websites, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel on which it posts professionally made videos. The videos include footage of battles in which TWJ militants are fighting, as well as speeches by the group's leader, Abu Saloh.

Abu Saloh's YouTube channel
Abu Saloh's YouTube channel

Abu Saloh also has his own YouTube channel, via which he broadcasts frequent audio messages in Uzbek, including lengthy sermons about various aspects of jihad. In a recent audio message, titled War Of Suspicions, Abu Saloh talked about how some Muslims doubt "jihad."

On October 19, TWJ opened a channel on the secure messaging service Telegram.

All of the group's propaganda communications are in Uzbek, indicating that TWJ is targeting a purely Uzbek audience. Some Chechen groups, in contrast, will produce propaganda videos in Chechen with Russian subtitles to reach a broader audience.

TWJ previously had Twitter and VKontakte accounts, though these have been shut down.

Pledge To Al-Qaeda

TWJ was one of several foreign Islamist groups to pledge allegiance to Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front, in September.

Prior to joining Nusra, TWJ had fought alongside it in battlefield coalitions in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

TWJ's pledge to Al-Qaeda revealed important details about the group's beliefs, its loyalties, and its connections in the so-called jihadi world.

In a video of TWJ's pledge to Nusra, Abu Saloh said that TWJ would be directly subordinate to Al-Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"[Zawahiri] promised us that our next battle will be in Damascus, and after that we will go directly to Palestine," Abu Saloh said.

Abu Saloh also said that before agreeing to pledge allegiance to Al-Qaeda, he had asked for advice from Al-Qaeda-linked ideologue Abu Qatada al-Filistini.

Abu Qatada said that for TWJ to unite with Al-Qaeda would bring "nothing but good," Abu Saloh recalled.

Kyrgyz Connection?

The 12news.uz report claimed that the Uzbek suspects had been advised by a contact in Kyrgyzstan, though no further details were supplied.

Kyrgyzstan banned TWJ -- alongside the Islamic State (IS) group, the Al-Nusra Front, and another Uzbek group, the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, in March.

The bans indicate that Kyrgyzstan believes TWJ is active in the republic.

Kyrgyzstan's National Security Committee (KNB) claimed in March that some 80 percent of Kyrgyz citizens who have joined militant groups in Syria are ethnic Uzbeks.

Blame Hizb Ut-Tahrir

The Uzbek security source also told 12news.uz that the detained men had also been in contact with an activist named Abdulaziz Rakhimov from the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization, which is banned across Central Asia and Russia.

The security source alleged that Rakhimov had facilitated communication between Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tawhid wal-Jihod.

Rakhimov had "conducted joint meetings, where there were discussions about ways and means of building a 'caliphate' in Uzbekistan with all the trappings of the Middle Ages," the source was quoted as saying.

This is not the first time that the authorities in Uzbekistan and in other Central Asian countries have suggested that Hizb ut-Tahrir plays a role in a strategy used by Al-Qaeda and IS militants to radicalize young people and recruit them to fight in Syria and Iraq.

In this case, however, the Uzbek security source alleged that Hizb ut-Tahrir members are directly involved in connecting potential recruits in Uzbekistan with Tawhid wal-Jihod in Syria.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Sunni political organization, seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate but says its movement is peaceful.

Load more

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.

Subscribe

Latest Posts

XS
SM
MD
LG