ISIS-Inspired Attacks: 3 Hours, 3 Countries, 3 Continents

When ISIS official spokesman Mohamed al-Adnani gave his audio speech last week at the beginning of Ramadan, he ended it with a call for more attacks:

“O mujahedeen everywhere, rush and go to make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels.”

On June 25 and June 26, ISIS launched a surprise attack in Kobane, Syria, killing around 200 people.

On June 26, within a span of three hours, lone wolves struck alone or in a pair in 3 countries: France, Tunisia and Kuwait. ISIS has taken credit for the attacks in Kuwait and Tunisia. [More...]

The same day there was also an attack in Egypt on a train between Alexandria and Cairo. No casualties were reported. But that makes four attacks on the same day in four different countries on three continents. The timing could be a coincidence. Or, the attacks could be the result of ISIS orchestrating and activating individuals in sleeper cells. Which is it?

With respect to the attacks on Westerners, I tend to think the attacks were ISIS-inspired, rather than ISIS-orchestrated or directed, and the timing simply the product of al-Adnani's latest speech. In other words, I don't believe there are ISIS "sleeper cells" all over the world, ready to be "activated" as soon as they get a "go ahead" from ISIS. In a speech stirring the lone wolf pot last September, excerpts of which were reprinted in Issue 4 of IS' Dabiq Magazine (pages 8 and 9) al-Adnani said:

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...

In other words, ISIS doesn't want to know of specific lone wolf plans ahead of time. It just wants to take credit afterwards. From page 44 of Dabiq Magazine, Issue 4:

At this point of the crusade against the Islamic State, it is very important that attacks take place in every country that has entered into the alliance against the Islamic State, especially the US, UK, France, Australia, and Germany.

... Every Muslim should get out of his house, find a crusader, and kill him. It is important that the killing becomes attributed to patrons of the Islamic State who have obeyed its leadership. This can easily be done with anonymity. Otherwise, crusader media makes such attacks appear to be random killings.

Secrecy should be followed when planning and< executing any attack. The smaller the numbers of those involved and the less the discussion beforehand,the more likely it will be carried out without problems. One should not complicate the attacks by involving other parties, purchasing complex materials, or communicating with weak-hearted individuals. “Rely upon Allah and stab the crusader” should be the battle cry for all Islamic State patrons.

That the young men who carried out the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait this week had accomplices who helped them acquire the gun and bomb or provided transportation doesn't mean that ISIS had prior knowledge of their plans or orchestrated the attack, even though ISIS has taken credit. As John Cantlie said in Issue #5 of Dabiq Magazine about attacks in Canada, Australia and the hatchet guy in Queens:

All these attacks were the direct result of the Shaykh’s call to action, and they highlight what a deadly tinderbox is fizzing just beneath the surface of every western country, waiting to explode into violent action at any moment given the right conditions.

The significance of these attacks and others is enormous and cannot be underestimated. By calling on Muslims around the world to rise up in arms, the Shaykh [al Adnani]launched attacks in Canada, America, and Australia (three of the countries mentioned in his speech) with nothing more than words and a shared belief in the act of worship that is jihād.

I don’t think ISIS has any intention of planning, directing or micro-managing lone wolf attacks against Westerners. It wants its supporters to act on their own. From Almedy Coulibaly to Tunisia, I think what we are seeing is ISIS-inspired but not ISIS directed.

I also think "sleeper cell", by definition, is the wrong term to use in connection with these attacks against Westerners. A better term is grass-roots jihadists. There doesn't seem to be much evidence that ISIS sent people to Tunisia, France, Canada, or the U.S. with instructions to lay dormant until receiving activation notice from ISIS.

Authorities will search high and low for accomplices in these attacks, and they will likely find some. But I doubt the accomplices are likely to have had any more direct contact with ISIS than the perpetrators. The Tunisian killer, Seifeddine Rezgui, never traveled abroad, never attended a training camp, and wasn't radicalized in jail. (Kuwait could be different but that wasn't an attack against Westerners.)

I've opined many times that returning fighters are less of a threat to their home countries than those who never left. This latest attack in Tunisia seems like another example.

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    The killer face (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by christinep on Sun Jun 28, 2015 at 08:59:41 PM EST
    with the smile at the top of this page--in view of the repulsive history of this so-called movement to date--is repulsive.  Frankly, it gets worse as it goes.  What the hey???

    Wrong. (none / 0) (#2)
    by jtaylorr on Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 01:29:29 PM EST
    "The Tunisian killer, Seifeddine Rezgui, never traveled abroad, never attended a training camp, and wasn't radicalized in jail."

    "I've opined many times that returning fighters are less of a threat to their home countries than those who never left. This latest attack in Tunisia seems like another example."

    Tunisia attack: Sousse killer Rezgui 'trained in Libya'