The first ‘leadership’ message since September 2017 was trailed under the al-Furkan brand and then released on 22 April through an audio message from spokesperson, al-Muhajir. Elsewhere, Daesh claimed attacks in Yemen and Somalia, the bombing of a voter registration centre in Afghanistan, and a big attack on arch-rival HTS in Idlib. In al-Naba, the perpetrators of a recent attack in Egypt were named, and an infographic celebrated attacks against Iraqi election candidates, riling against ‘polytheistic democracy’. Several Amaq bulletins claimed the successful repulsion of Syrian Regime attacks on areas of Daesh control in southern Damascus, and that Syrian and Russian planes had made over 300 airstrikes on the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. Elsewhere, the ‘Khorasan Province’ published photos of artillery and rocket training for fighters in Afghanistan.
Unofficial media circulated on Telegram included an English-language poster advising on how to carry out improvised attacks on civilian targets. Two short videos of child Daesh-supporters were shared on Telegram. There were claims of successful Facebook and Twitter account hacking, and Twitter account creation, for the use of Daesh followers; one group claimed to have created 3,500 Twitter and 700 Facebook accounts. Other posters featured images of President Trump as a Daesh prisoner, the city Seattle on fire and threats against Russia and the World Cup finals. A mash-up video threatened street killings in western countries, using clips of Daesh ‘executions’. An editorial in the twelfth edition of the pro-Daesh al-Anfal magazine, circulated on Telegram on 14 April, incited attacks in Turkey on Jews and “Crusaders”, including western tourists and embassies.
Daesh spokesperson audio message
A new audio message by Daesh spokesperson Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was released on 22 April, following trails on Daesh Telegram channels under the al-Furkan media brand. This is the first ‘leadership’ message from Daesh for over six months, although it has not been as widely shared on social media as previous releases. Reference to US-led airstrikes on Syria date it to on or after 14 April. His message is that ‘Jihad’ is the only way forward and that Daesh continues to fight, and he calls for new recruits to the group. He attacks the governments of Arab neighbours in the region, including the PLA and Hamas. He attacks Russia and Iran for its role in Syria, as well as the US. He threatens the 12 May parliamentary elections in Iraq and also calls for more attacks by Daesh supporters on Western targets.
Battle with Syrian army in southern Damascus
Several Amaq statements acknowledged that Daesh had been under attack by the Syrian army in southern Damascus from 19 April. One claimed that over 300 airstrikes had been directed at Yarmouk by the Syrian and Russian air forces. Another, on 20 April, claimed there had been over 100 airstrikes since the previous day. Another claimed that Daesh had successfully repelled an attack, killing several Syrian army soldiers. The statements depict the Syrian army offensive as intended to advance Iranian interests against the Sunni population.
Videos of children
Two short videos with loosely edited footage of children speaking in support of Daesh were circulated by supporters on Telegram chat groups from 16 April. One shows 26 seconds of a boy aged about six, who tells of a dream in which he carries out a suicide bombing, wearing an explosive belt and riding in a tank filled with explosives. For this, he says, he will go to Paradise. The other, longer video, shows a slight older boy preaching in a mosque. He thanks God for Daesh and calls for death to America, to Shias and to a host of other ‘enemies’.
Read previous versions of the insight bulletin here