A pro-Islamic State media operation called the Nashir News Agency published a poster calling for more vehicular jihad in the last few days of the Ramadan holiday season, depicting an SUV driving across a mountain of skulls beneath the caption, “Run Over Them Without Mercy.”
The UK Daily Mail notes that ISIS claimed responsibility for the recent vehicle and knife attacks at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge, which definitely fit into the “run over them without mercy” template.
The Drive more specifically describes the vehicle in the poster as a Jeep Grand Cherokee sporting a black Islamic State flag. It is also noteworthy that the city in the background of the poster is being devoured by tornadoes, which adds a characteristically apocalyptic touch to the ISIS propaganda, although it makes the helicopter hovering in the upper-left corner of the Photoshopped image a bit implausible.
This is not the first exhortation to vehicular jihad published by the Nashir News Agency, which exists mostly as a channel on the secure messaging platform Telegram. A few weeks ago, they published a message in both English and Arabic that said, “Kill the civilians of the Crusaders, run over them by vehicles, gain benefit from Ramadan.”
This earlier poster was a much less polished bit of propaganda, accompanied only by clip art of a handgun, knife, and truck. The pictures were helpfully labeled “Handgun,” “Knife,” and “Truck” for the benefit of less subtle jihadi minds.
The Daily Mail explains the increase in terrorist violence during Ramadan as follows:
Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, in which good deeds are rewarded manifold, and bad deeds especially punished. In ISIS’s twisted interpretation of Islam, this means attacks on non-believers and apostates – which it considers ‘good’ – will be honored many times over in the afterlife.
Voice of America News pondered the question of Ramadan violence at length in the early days of this year’s holiday and concluded that, while other terrorist groups also promote the idea of greater divine rewards for jihadi violence during the holy month, ISIS is exceptionally vigorous about driving the point home.
“Your targeting of the so-called innocents and civilians is beloved by us and the most effective, so go forth and may you get a great reward or martyrdom in Ramadan. Attack them in their homes, their markets, their roads and their forums,” the Islamic State declared in one message titled “Where Are the Lions of War?”
The Taliban complained about “ignorance of religion” when the United Nations called for an end to hostilities during Ramadan, citing the very precise multiplier for virtue laid out in Islamic texts: “Our fight is jihad and an obligatory worship, and every obligatory act of worship has 70 times more reward in Ramadan.”
Some of the analysts quoted by VOA offered other, more strategic explanations, such as the vulnerability of Muslim crowds in places like Baghdad to mass-casualty attacks as they gather for Ramadan celebrations, and the reduced effectiveness of security forces in Islamic nations due to holiday fasting.