Almedy Coulibaly: Soldier of the Islamic State

Al Hayat Media, one of the media arms for the Islamic State (ISIS) has released a “martyrdom” video of Almedy Coulibaly, recorded before the Kosher market siege, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and explaining his reasons for hooking up with the Kouachi brothers and embarking on his killing spree. It’s already down from You Tube, but you can watch it here, here or here. Even though it is in French, I suggest you watch it to see the editing. If you'd rather read about it, descriptions by the media are here and here.

Al Hayat takes video recorded by Coulibaly after the Charlie Hebdo killings and the killing of the policewoman, but before the market killings, and adds its own text and descriptions, giving the impression he is being interviewed by ISIS. [More...]

In the video, Coulibaly is now Abou Bassir AbdAllah al-Ifriqi, aka “Soldier of the Caliphate.” Coulibaly pledges allegiance to the Islamic State (reading from a script in Arabic and stumbling over the worlds) and says the Charlie Hebdo attacks were coordinated with the killing of the policewoman so they would have greater impact. Coulibaly does not discuss the market killings, because they have not yet occurred, but al Hayat makes it seem as if he does by adding text, graphics, and a media report with a female voice describing the market incident.

I don’t see anything in the videos that indicates ISIS knew of his plans beforehand or was involved in the attacks. I think Coulibaly either emailed the recording to his wife Hayat Boumeddiene in Syria, who in turn gave it to ISIS, or he sent it directly to ISIS or al Hayat. Al Hayat then turned it into the slick video we are now seeing.

He wears several different outfits in the video, so it doesn't seem like it was shot in a single sitting. One segment is filmed after the Charlie Hebdo killings and the killing of the policewoman, and he says these two events were coordinated by him and the Kouachi brothers. He does not say anything about the market killings, as he hadn’t yet gone to the market. He says he and the brothers decided to do some things on their own. He says there will be more attacks but does not describe them.

His reasons for the attacks are the same as those he described to the hostages in a conversation recorded through his phone when he didn’t hang up after his conversation with the TV station: Revenge on the west for attacking ISIS (interspersed with complaints about Western countries and their treatment of ISIS and Muslims.) You can read his statements here and here and here.

He tells one hostage the French military attacked Muslims in the Middle East and Mali, including ISIS militants: “I was born in France. If they didn't attack other countries, I wouldn't be here."

On Coulibaly’s inspiration for the attacks: I think there are two obvious ones. The first is the audio statement of Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī in late September, 2014, urging supporters at home who can't travel to the middle east to kill Westerners in their homelands. al-Adnani specifically singled out France. You can read his words here.

So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawāghīt. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war [the civilian by belonging to a state waging war against the Muslims]. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy, for blood does not become illegal or legal to spill by the clothes being worn.

So O muwahhid… O you who believes in walā’ and barā’… will you leave the American, the Frenchman, or any of their allies to walk safely upon the earth while the armies of the crusaders strike the lands of the Muslims not differentiating between a civilian and fighter?....How can you enjoy life and sleep while not aiding your brothers, not casting fear into the hearts of the cross worshippers, and not responding to their strikes with multitudes more?

So O muwahhid wherever you may be, hinder those who want to harm your brothers and state as much as you can. The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies.

If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him....

....If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops. If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face. If your self refuses to do so, while your brothers are being bombarded and killed, and while their blood and wealth everywhere is deemed lawful by their enemies, then review your religion.

Significant in al Adnani’s remarks is his instruction to supporters that they not advise ISIS of their plans ahead of time. I don’t think ISIS has any intention of micro-managing, directing or even helping lone wolf attacks. It wants its supporters to act on their own. That’s just what Coulibaly did. I think looking for actual involvement of ISIS in the planning or execution of these attacks in France is pointless.

The second inspiration for Coulibaly seems to be the video of French ISIS fighters “What Are You Waiting For?” (available here, with English subtitles) released around Nov. 19, just days after the mass beheadings of Syrian pilots by Jihadi John and 16 or 18 other fighters, in which Peter Kassig's severed head appears. The French fighters’ video is described at length here and here.

The French fighters are identified as Abu Osama al-Faranci,Abu Maryam al-Faranci and Abu Salman al-Faranci. Abu Maryam al-Faranci says the “mujahideen” will not hesitate to chop the heads of the “enemies of Islam.” “You will even fear travelling to the market,” he said. Abu Salman al-Faranci is featured the most in the video.

He says:

And if you are sincere to Allah in your worship and in your creed, and are unable to make Hirja, then operate within France. Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror. There are weapons and cars available, and targets ready to be hit. Kill them and spit in their faces and run over them with your cars. Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah. Do whatever you are able to do in order to humiliate them, for they deserve only this.

France was well aware of this video at the time it was released. It conducted an investigation and launched a series of raids. Somehow, the investigation didn’t lead it to suspect the Kouachis or Coulibaly. Why not? The French had had the Kouachis under electronic and physical surveillance (phone, internet and movement monitoring) sporadically since 2009 but decided this summer to end the surveillance, saying it wasn’t worth the expenditure of resources. They were also aware of Coulibaly.

Two days ago, al Hayat media, the same Islamic State media arm that released the Coulibaly video last night, released another video called "Message to Muslims in the Land of Kuffar." You can watch it here. This video contains threats to the West, and images from media coverage of the Kouachi killings and Canadian parliament shootings. It also contains the statements of Shaykh al Adnani from his speech detailed above about killing Westerners, especially the French, and the scenes from the November 19 French Fighters' video with Abu Salaman al Faranci asking ISIS supporters in France to kill at home.

The video is 9 minutes long. It begins with complaints about the airstrikes, and shows bloody images of victims of the airstrikes. The next five minutes or so is the portion of al Adnani’s audio message inciting supporters to kill Westerners at home with a picture of him on the left and a printout of his remarks on the right. Then there’s a segment of French fighter Abu al Salaman al Faranci making his threats, with his words in English beneath them as he is speaking. After that, there is a call to action with scenes from the Canadian Parliament shootings in the background and scenes from media coverage of attacks by particular TV networks.

Among the threats (these may not be in precise order, I took them from the video.)

After the rough night The time has come for the break of dawn
So wait for the harsh retaliation
From men of strength and might
We will launch a raid after raid
We will lie in wait
We will storm death
And we will ask victory from our Lord.
We are born to fight
And we race towards this honor
So prolong the war, O’ Kufr
We’re not weary or weakened, not even a little

Al Hayat seems to be drawing the connection between Al Adnani’s incitement to supporters at home, the French fighters’ similar incitement and Coulibaly and the Kouachis, in a video spliced together after the Hebdo and market killings, for a reason -- to show us what it thinks was the inspiration for the Paris attacks. That doesn’t mean Coulibaly had any relationship with ISIS before the attacks. He may have just heard the Adnani speech and watched the French fighter’s videos and videos showing the victims of the airstrikes, and been inspired to pledge allegiance to ISIS and follow its suggestions. I won’t be surprised if it turns out that the Kouachis and Coulibaly are nothing more than a lone wolf cell of three (or four, if Coulibaly's wife is included.)

The West is so focused on “returning fighters” it is missing the ball on those who present a greater danger: The ones who never left. Two of these three killers never left home, including Coulibaly, who is the only one of the three to use ISIS (as opposed to AQAP) as his inspiration. The ISIS videos are worth watching because they are not just recruitment videos. They provide a roadmap of what is to come. In this latest video, they threaten more attacks on the West, using images from France and Canada and the logos of various TV stations. They clearly say why they are attacking the West. It’s retaliation for the airstrikes.

What’s the solution? To start with, call off the airstrikes against ISIS. ISIS will call on its supporters to end the attacks on the West. Saving Iraq or Syria from ISIS is not worth the cost of civilian lives in the West. Not because our lives are worth more, but because it's not our battle. Many of us don’t have a say in these airstrikes, but we’re potential victims nonetheless. It’s impressive to see people marching for freedom of speech, but I’d rather see them march against war. One preserves a cherished principle, while the other is self-preservation. ISIS doesn't care about our freedoms and no amount of marching will change that. It hates freedom. Freedom of speech doesn't have much import if you’re dead and can’t exercise it.

ISIS was not our battle until we started attacking them. No one in the West listens to ISIS. It’s not rocket science. ISIS says the West started this fight. They warned the West against airstrikes. Their attacks are retaliation for the airstrikes. ISIS wants to break down the borders in the Middle East and establish their Caliphate state, ruled by Shariah law. It opposes democracy and laws created by man (as opposed to G-d.) If people who live in those countries object to ISIS, let them battle ISIS. The U.S. needs to stop trying to force freedom and democracy on countries on the other side of the world. It didn’t work in Vietnam or in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s not going to work here. The mission creep in the fight against ISIS has grown to the point where its putting all of us in danger.

More terror laws are not the answer, they just further reduce our freedom, while not making us safer. It’s time to scale it back. You can’t win a fight against an ideology with missiles. Defeating ISIS is not worth living in fear of attacks at home by lone (and usually looney) wolves. The battle against extremist religious views in the Middle East will take years, if not generations. If we have to be on alert and look over our shoulders the whole time, with the Government monitoring our words and movements, we've already lost our freedom and this ill-advised war.

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  • Display: Sort:
    40 bullets (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Jan 12, 2015 at 11:59:32 AM EST
    I much prefer this, to the image, above, of Coulibaly reposing in virginal white and spewing hate

    The special forces found that Coulibaly had booby trapped the store, leaving a door packed with several kilos of explosives. They also found that he had on him a stockpile of ammunition, submachine guns and automatic weapons.


    And the photo emerged as members of France's special forces recounted the events of Friday afternoon - telling how they had worked for over 50 hours straight before the raid; how Amedy Coulibaly, the jihadi gunman, attempted to barter to free the hostages; and how they eventually stormed the store and killed Coulibaly in a hail of over 40 bullets.


    "We had managed to make telephone contact with one of the clients who was hiding in the cold store in the basement. They told us that there was a one-month-old baby inside that room. The baby would only have survived for two hours inside there. But we were able to cut the electricity."

    No gruesome photos that I know of at this link.

    Worth a read: Terror rooted in Algeria (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 02:48:36 AM EST
    This is a high body count story, both in France, where an estimated 600 Algerian protestors were gunned down by French police in one demonstration alone, and in Algiers, where millions have died fighting the French and each other.

    For Algeria remains the most painful wound within the body politic of the Republic - save, perhaps, for its continuing self-examination of Nazi occupation - and provides a fearful context for every act of Arab violence against France. The six-year Algerian war for independence, in which perhaps a million and a half Arab Muslims and many thousands of French men and women died, remains an unending and unresolved agony for both peoples. Just over half a century ago, it almost started a French civil war.

    Strange fruit hanging from the History tree...

    The first comment to this post (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 11, 2015 at 08:45:24 PM EST
    was nothing but name-calling of the people discussed in the post. That's not allowed here and was deleted.

    Great post Jeralyn (none / 0) (#2)
    by Slado on Mon Jan 12, 2015 at 04:19:39 AM EST
    Our military, administration, and intelligence agencies have not learned the basic lessons of our approach over seas to terror since 9-11.

    We can't defeat ideas with bombs, troops, special forces and now our favorite toy, drones.

    To me we are not a step closer to defeating this ideology then we were on 9-10.  

    Sure we got OBL but his ideology continues to spread around the world with the help of not only these media savvy  groups like ISIS but with the continued teaching of radical Islam within countries like Saudi Arabia that then is allowed to flow throughout the Sunni side of the Middle East.

    I too fear we are going to be living with this constant war or conflict with terrorism for years because our actions do nothing to counter the narrative put out by the radical extremists and their powerful and wealthy benefactors.

    Some act like this is our first go (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jan 12, 2015 at 09:46:52 AM EST
    Around with terror inspiring crimes and having to deal with ideologies that resort to violence to gain power.

    It's ridiculous to think we won't deal with it again after THIS is behind us too.