ATbar Threat to the United States Homeland: Internet Propaganda and Planners Inspiring Individual Jihad

Threat to the United States Homeland: Internet Propaganda and Planners Inspiring Individual Jihad

11/01/2018 | by Kelvington, Michael R.  

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Introduction: Future Threats to the United States


Since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of the Islamic caliphate on July 3rd, 2014, the intelligence community estimates approximately 30,000 foreign fighters emigrated from their homeland to the Middle East to join the Islamic State.[1]  However, the spigot of foreign fighters flocking to the caliphate has since been largely shut down, causing the jihadi terrorist organization to alter its global messaging, specifically to new recruits within the Sunni Muslim ummah [community].  In May 2016, the Islamic State spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani continued fanning the flames of their radical ideology by calling on Muslims worldwide to wage jihad against “crusaders and infidels” on their home turf.[2]  His was not a message new to radical Islamic terrorist organizations, specifically with previous editions of both the Islamic State’s DABIQ magazine and Al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, but a message that resonates with jihadi online propaganda and encapsulates a threat the United States presently faces and will continue to see in the future. 

Adnani’s refreshed message stated, “If the tawaghit [tyrants] have shut the door of hijrah [immigration] in your faces, then open the door of jihad in theirs. Make your deed a source of their regret. Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here.”[3]  In the wake of significant losses in the Islamic State’s geographical territory, Adnani’s audio recording called for Muslims seeking to join the Islamic State to make their obligatory duty of jihad in their own backyard.  Messages like Adnani’s point to a present and future threat to the United States, as exemplified by the terror attacks committed in the name of the Islamic State and adherents of Al-Qaeda in places such as San Bernardino, Orlando, Garland, Chattanooga, Minneapolis, New Jersey, Ohio State, and New York City. While not the only threat to the U.S. homeland, terrorism in the form of homegrown violent extremism conducted by perpetrators called “lone wolves” or “wolf packs” inspired by online jihadi propaganda and facilitated by online planners continues to be a lethal, emerging threat.

[1] Eric Schmitt and Somini Sengupta, “Thousands Enter Syria to Join ISIS Despite Global Efforts,” New York Times, published 26 September 2015, accessed 04 January 2017, middleeast/thousands-enter-syria-to-join-isis-despite-global-efforts.html.

[2] Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, “That They Live by Proof,” Al-Hayat Media Center, published May 2016, accessed 04 January 2017, 2016/05/al-hayat-that-they-live-by-proof.pdf, 6.

[3] Ibid., 12.

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