On Ramadan Eve, Islamic State and Al-Qaeda Threat Intensifies Outside Iraq, Syria

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Islamist terrorists’ belief that the holiest month for Muslims, Ramadan, is a time when God especially rewards jihad has regularly prompted a spike in attacks that month and may do so again within the next 30 days, despite the devastating losses suffered by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

In the days leading up to the beginning of Ramadan, ISIS has particularly enhanced its barbaric activities in areas outside the group’s former caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“A series of terror attacks in [the] run-up to the beginning of Ramadan could portend a difficult month ahead for terror at home and abroad, as past years have seen escalated or remarkable acts of violence during the Islamic holy month,” Homeland Security Today notes.

According to a Breitbart News tally, the number of casualties at the hands of jihadists last year reached 3,343 (1,639 deaths; 1,704 injuries), marking one of the bloodiest holy months in recent history.

Although the U.S.-led coalition and its local allies have annihilated ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the group has intensified attacks through its various branches outside its former bastion in the days leading up to the beginning of Ramadan for Muslims in the United States and Europe on sundown Tuesday.

Post-caliphate ISIS still operates or at the very least influences various components of its once formidable organization outside of Iraq and Syria.

Those groups have intensified attacks in the days leading up to Ramadan all the to the eve of the holy month.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the recent deadly attacks in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, including one involving a family of five targeting a police headquarters on Monday, wounding at least ten on the eve of the holy month.

Over the weekend, alleged ISIS jihadists attacked three separate churches, killing about eight people.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS, among other jihadist groups, have rendered Ramadan synonymous with indiscriminate bloodshed, often involving women and children, a deed that has triggered the ire of various Islamic leaders.

Unlike previous years, however, the two terrorist groups have seemingly decided in 2018 against releasing explicit Ramadan messages calling on their members and supporters to intensify attacks.

This could be the result of the start of Ramadan coinciding with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, a move that has already prompted al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Islamic terrorist groups to issue threats of violence and urge their supporters and members to carry out attacks.

In a video message released Sunday, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that U.S. President Donald Trump “was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad.”

Echoing the Ramadan calls to arms in previous years, “Zawahiri reiterated his call and that of his groups to fight America,” SITE Intelligence Groups noted, referring to the al-Qaeda leader’s speech.

Early this month, al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab in Somalia urged the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to escalate attacks.

The group also released an audio message from its late leader Osama bin Laden calling on jihadists to travel to engage in jihad.

This month, ISIS has urged and at times justified attacks against European cities. It has also called on jihadists to target Russia, notably the upcoming Soccer World Cup.

More recently, ISIS issued a message trying to persuade jihadists in Kashmir—a Muslim-majority region claimed by China, its ally Pakistan, and their rival India—to carry out “lone-wolf” attacks against Hindus, police officers, and tourists.

The terrorist organization has also highlighted its violent activities in Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Niger, Caucuses region, and the most populous Muslim nation of Indonesia.

Acknowledging in early March that ISIS is “adapting” to its losses, the U.S. State Department acknowledged that the group is operating several branches outside Iraq and Syria.

State identified those branches as ISIS West Africa, ISIS Somalia, ISIS Egypt, ISIS Bangladesh, ISIS Philippines, the Maute Group in the Philippines, and Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia.

During Ramadan, the majority of Muslims follow the tradition of abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, having sex, and other physical needs each day, starting from before the break of dawn until sunset.

However, extremists perceive Ramadan as a time when martyrdom and jihad are especially rewarded in paradise, prompting a spike in the terrorist attacks during the period every year.

Islamic extremist groups encourage martyrdom among their sympathizers and followers, promoting the belief that God will reward them if they fatally castigate infidels during Ramadan.


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