The 257th edition of Al-Naba, the weekly newsletter of the Islamic State (IS), was released on 22 October. Al-Naba 257 contains an article praising the 16 October murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist who accused him of blasphemy for showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Islam’s prophet Muhammad during a class on free speech, but the article does not claim that the Chechen refugee who carried out the assassination, Abdoullakh Anzorov, was an IS operative. Among other things, this is a reminder that IS’s claims of responsibility are not indiscriminate, even if it is believed there have been a couple of incidents of high-profile deception.
IS’s celebration of the murder of Paty is in the space for the main editorial on page 3. It refers to Paty as a “criminal crusader” and lauds the “young Muslim man who slit his throat and cut off his head, then went to his Lord Almighty, preferring death to subjugation by the French police, being killed a martyr, so we count him”. After a brief note of the rewards of paradise, Al-Naba 257 praises the way that, over the last decade, “the youth of Islam excelled in discovering new methods of jihad” in their unending war against “the enemies of the religion”, the mushrikeen (idolators or polytheists) and infidels and apostates, able to “spite” them with knives, trucks, chemicals/poisons.
IS praises the way Muslim terrorists in the West have outwitted powerful security services in the Western democracies, even after acquiring guns and explosives became prohibitively difficult, sometimes by getting in contact with “experts” among their “brothers” in Syria and elsewhere so that explosives could be made in non-traditional ways or low-tech attacks could be organised.
IS is pleased with the 9/11 massacre and the follow-on attacks, name-checking the March 2004 bombings in Spain and the July 2005 attacks in Britain, but Al-Naba says that these imposed upon the imagination of jihadists in the West a model for what their attacks should look like that ended up being a psychological problem since it induced “despair” as the security services did their work after 2001 and such operations became essentially impossible. Many of the jihadists in the West therefore decided to “emigrate to the jihad arenas for fighting and training”, and here is where the Islamic State came in.
By establishing their caliphate, IS “removed the obstacles [Western jihadists] encountered in carrying out their duties” and it was made clear by IS’s then spokesman Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) that those who could not come to the new Islamic state should conduct attacks with “whatever capabilities were to hand” in their home countries. “We still remember the call” from Falaha, says Al-Naba, repeating a section of his most infamous speech from September 2014:
So O muwahed 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. “O you who have believed, take your precaution and [either] go forth in companies or go forth all together” [An-Nisa: 71].
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. Do not lack. Do not be contemptible. Let your slogan be, “May I not be saved if the cross worshipper and taghut patron survives.” 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.
“It is important to remind Muslims to continue to agitate for jihad and to proselytise for it … to all Muslims in the various languages they speak”, Al-Naba concludes, noting that actions such as murdering Paty for what IS regards as blasphemy is a means of spreading the jihadist message—to infidels and Muslims alike, providing intimidation in the one case and a model to be followed in the other.