CNN describes the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and its sympathizers as riding a euphoric “wave” of propaganda after the Orlando massacre and the brutal murder of a French police officer and his girlfriend. ISIS is touting these attacks as victories, while Western analysts portray the terror state as desperate for a morale boost after a series of battlefield reversals.
ISIS has its own radio station, al-Bayan, which hailed Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen as “one of the soldiers of the Caliphate in America.”
Meanwhile, the “news” outlet aligned with ISIS, Amaq, reported the bloody handiwork of Larossi Abballa in France as “Islamic State fighter kills deputy chief of the police station in the city of Les Mureaux.”
CNN reports that Amaq also released a video of Abballa pledging his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a video evidently either made shortly before or during the attack, when he was holding police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing’s girlfriend and child hostage in their own home. Abballa had enough time to boot up Facebook Live and debate murdering the three-year-old child online before police stormed the house and killed him.
The UK Daily Mail reports on a video purportedly released by the Islamic State, but not yet verified as authentic, that includes pictures of Mateen and footage of the crime scene at the Pulse nightclub, mixed with Islamic State logos and music, and a threat to President Obama that there will be more “bloodshed on your people” if U.S. forces continue bombing ISIS:
CNN’s report provides the “desperate ISIS looking for a morale boost” framing without quoting any Western government officials or analysts making that argument.
“The claims seem opportunistic – and are maybe a sign of weakness rather than strength. The evidence so far suggests that in both cases the attackers had little if any connection with the group, even if they pledged allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi,” argues CNN.
Later in the article, CNN observes that ISIS formerly “tried to protect an air of invincibility” but is now dealing with “setbacks in its core territories and a rising rate of desertions.”
Part of the argument for ISIS desperation is the call from spokesman Mohammed al-Adnani for “lone wolf” attacks in the West, with an assurance to Islamic State supporters that “the smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us.”
Adnani also made a rather obvious play to redefine victory for the Caliphate, asking his followers, “Will we be defeated and you victorious if you took Mosul or Sirte or Raqqa or all the cities, and we returned as we were in the beginning? No, defeat is losing the will and the desire to fight.”
We can certainly hope the Islamic State is trying to move the goalposts before it gets wiped out in Iraq and Syria, but it should also be noted that calls for “lone wolf” attacks are nothing new. Blocking the Islamic State’s efforts to capitalize on atrocities like the Pulse shooting, by pointing to a lack of evidence that ISIS planned or coordinated the attack, will be difficult, given that Mateen did pledge allegiance to the “Caliphate” at the last minute … exactly as ISIS has always encouraged prospective lone wolf recruits to do, to minimize the chance they will be detected and intercepted by the authorities.