Recent advances in Iraq by the al-Qaeda clone known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) have raised fears that the entire country could fall to extremists. Although the collapse of security throughout much of Iraq seems sudden, it did not spring from a void, but rather is the result of a return of sectarianism to Iraq and of the steady growth of ISIS over the past two and a half years.
IS Supporters React to James Foley Beheading Video
Islamic State (IS)-supporters took to Twitter to respond to IS's release of a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley on August 19, 2014—collectively using the hashtags "#A_Message_to_America," based off the title of the IS video, and "#NewMessageFromISIStoUS," a modification of the recent hashtag formed in response to U.S. airstrikes, #AMessagefromISIStoUS."
Combined, the two English hashtags surpassed 2,000 tweets in the three hours following the video's release. Arabic versions of the hashtags were also created.
IS-supporters, along with posting abundant links to the video and screenshots of various parts, were overwhelmingly celebratory and taunting toward the US. The account of "Abu Sanan," for example, tweeted, "Did you see what we can do ? There is more !!"
Other posts were less sarcastic and more threatening. The account of "Muslim" tweeted, "wake up americans it's a new era it's listen to your slayed brother back off!" To a similar note, user "Al-Wa'ed al-Shishani" tweeted, "There's some thing U must know that laws of war'd changed so rethink 1000times in facing #ISIS."
The account of "Umm al-Azz" tweeted that Americans will "cross this fate" for every "American assult on Muslim homes or on the land of Islam." User Muslim#Caliphate" contributed an equally threatening tweet, stating:
#NewMessageFromISIStoUS wake up americans it's a new era it's listen to your slayed brother back off!
One user, "Abu Omar al-Iraqi," made a visual threat to America in response to the video, tweeting a picture of himself with a knife and guns, stating that "the butchers waiting" for President Obama.
One account, under the name "Qalam al-Khilafah," even tweeted a picture of the beheading next to the similarly executed beheading of Nick Berg, a U.S. citizen beheaded in Iraq in 2004. The user commented, "The "orange suit" back again :)" and included the graphic double picture:
Other accounts used the video as a way to criticize Western foreign policy, stating that the beheading of Foley was miniscule compared to the violence committed by Western governments toward Muslims. On August 20, 2014, user "Abu Talha Al Muhajir" tweeted:
American govt's foreign policies/terrorism against Muslims made the reason for Americans being killed.
Similarly, the account of "Rayat Al Tawheed," a media group of British jihadists, tweeted, "Why shouldn't America be angry after all an American life is worth 10x a Muslims."