The Somali affiliate of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) released its first video late Monday, offering gruesome threats to those celebrating the holidays with drunken revelry.
The debut, a nearly eight-and-a-half-minute video, began with a shot of a Christmas tree, champagne being poured in a tall glass and the voices of partygoers counting down to the New Year. Instead of shouts of “Happy New Year,” however, after “one” came a man yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) and the sounds of violence the militant group has been notorious for causing and inspiring around the world. A narrator then beckoned ISIS supporters to take advantage of intoxicated people and large gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s as “a new opportunity” to perpetrate death and destruction
“This message is for the brothers who are living among the kuffar [infidels]. Don’t you feel the pain of the Muslim brothers living in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Burma and Palestine? The prophet—salla Allahu 'alayhi wa-sallam [blessings of God be upon him and peace]—said, ‘The kafir [infidel] and his killer will never be joined in the hellfire.’ Which means, killing a kafir is your ticket out of jahenim [hell],” an unidentified, masked man told the camera while holding what appeared to be a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
“And lastly, know this, the Islamic State is here to stay. We’re going to fight and keep on fighting until we rule the whole world by the Sharia and this black banner of la ilaha illa Allah [There is no god but God]. We’ll rise from Washington to Moscow, from Europe to China, and there’s nothing that can stop us,” he added, before citing a verse from the Quran.
To mock the boozy traditions of year-end nightlife, ISIS grabbed footage from a viral YouTube video uploaded last year by a Canadian bouncer who strapped a GoPro camera to his chest while dealing with hordes of New Year’s Eve patrons at The Gatsby Soundhouse and Bar in London, Ontario. The video’s uploader was not immediately available for comment when Newsweek attempted to contact him.
In the Somalia clip, ISIS also repeatedly ordered the group’s global support network to “hunt them” and featured crosshairs targeting Christian clergy, including Catholic Pope Francis. It instructed viewers to “strike their churches in the East and the West.” It showed footage of an individual setting up a sniper rifle on a roof overlooking downtown Denver, Colorado, and scenes from New York City, where the most recent ISIS-inspired attack in the West occurred earlier this month.
The 27-year-old suspect who injured himself and several others when he detonated a pipe bomb underground near Port Authority, the city’s busiest transportation hub, told authorities he got the idea for the plot after seeing holiday posters and became angry about U.S. bombing of ISIS territory, NBC News reported. Though the alleged bomber hurt no one seriously except for himself, an ISIS-inspired truck attack on Manhattan’s West Side Highway killed eight on Halloween, making it the deadliest act of terror to hit the city since 9/11.
Leading up to Christmas, ISIS and its supporters have issued numerous threats against crowds of people and popular gathering spaces, none of which were realized when the Christian holiday passed Monday. The FBI reportedly prevented a former Marine from bombing San Francisco’s famous Pier 39 in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has sparked anger across the Middle East and beyond in support of Palestinians who also claim the holy city.
While ISIS has largely been defeated and driven out of its strongholds of Iraq and Syria, the fate and whereabouts of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have remained unknown, and the group continues to maintain influence in pockets of control elsewhere, including the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Central and Southern Asia, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Philippines. An October ambush that killed four U.S. troops and five local personnel in Niger was believed to have been conducted by an ISIS-supporting group, but its direct ties to the militants have been called into question by experts. ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
As Trump ramps up operations to tackle ISIS and the powerful, Somali Al-Qaeda affiliate known as Al-Shabab, the U.S.’s bloody, controversial history with Somalia has again come to light. Months after a 1993 U.S. air assault that killed dozens of Somali civilians gathered at what the U.S. military said it believed to be a militant safe house, Somali insurgents downed two Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 U.S. soldiers in the Battle of Mogadishu, later recounted in the 1999 novel Black Hawk Down and 2001 film of the same name.
Almost 24 years later, the U.S. suffered its first casualty in Somalia since 1999’s during a raid on an Al-Shabab compound in May.
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