Tracking Islamic State
Friday 1 January 2016
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."
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.
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.