Simply titling it “Just Terror,” the Islamic State (IS) released the twelfth issue of its English magazine, “Dabiq,” on November 18, 2015.
In its pages, the group revealed the purported explosive device used by Sinai Province to take down the Russian airliner, and suggested that Airliner KGL9268 was not the original target; it announced the executions of Chinese hostage Fan Jinghui and Norwegian hostage Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Oftsad; and featured a new article attributed to John Cantlie, in which the British captive mused that the IS might carry out a large-scale attack in the West on par with 9/11 to compel the U.S. and its military allies to put boots on the ground in Syria.
Following is a summary of these and other selected articles from the publication:
The forward section of the issue criticized France and Russia’s policies against IS, and touted the group’s October 31, 2015 downing of a Russian plane in Egypt and the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks as respective justice against them. Regarding the downed Russian plane, the forward claimed that upon Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, the attack was given priority over another unspecified plan “to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition”:
And so after having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against the Islamic State, the target was changed to a Russian plane. A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and 5 other crusaders only a month after Russia’s thoughtless decision
The forward also contained “exclusive” pictures of passports “belonging to dead crusaders” aboard the downed Russian plane and the “IED used to bring down the Russian airliner.”
Regarding the Paris attacks, IS claimed that it tasked “eight knights” to perform the attacks, and followed up, “A nationwide state of emergency was declared as a result of the actions of eight men armed only with assault rifles and explosive belts.”
Other articles included promotion of IS’ “Dinar” currency; condemnations of both “Awakenings” in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s cooperation with moderate forces and political entities in Syria; a female jihadist’s defense of Islamic polygamy; and recaps of recent military operations.
One article, entitled, “The Revival of Jihad in Bengal with the Spread of the Light of the Khilafah” and attributed to “Abu ‘Abdir-Rahman al-Banghali,” provided a history of jihadist movements in and around the country and the emergence of IS. The article also commented on the formation of cells in the country that would organize the attacks and killings in the country:
Thus, the soldiers of the Khilāfah in Bengal pledged their allegiance to the Khalīfah Ibrāhīm (hafidhahullāh), unified their ranks, nominated a regional leader, gathered behind him, dissolved their former factions, performed the necessary military preparations, and hastened to answer the order from the Islamic State leadership, by targeting the crusaders and their allies wherever they may be found.
The article followed up that IS fighters are “are busy preparing for further attack” in the country while “the secular murtaddīn of the present Awami League government continue to twist the facts on the ground and play a blame game in an effort to put political pressure on the murtaddīn of both the nationalist BNP and the parliamentary “Jamaat-e-Islami.” The IS has thus far claimed credit for four attacks in Bangladesh: the murders of Italian national Tavella Cesare on September 28 and Kunio Hoshi on October 3; bombings on a Shi'ite procession outside Huseini Dalan on October 24; and an attack on a police checkpoint on November 4.
The magazine features biographies of two slain fighters, one of them a German identified as "Abu Junaydah al-Almani". According to the piece on Abu Junaydah, featured under the title "Amongst the Believers are Men," he grew up in Germany to Moroccan-born parents, and he was inculcated with religious devotion and worship. He traveled to Syria in 2013 and joined Junud ash-Sham, and was later joined by his cousin Abu Hafs al-Almani and best friend, Abu Luqman al-Almani. Abu Hafs and Abu Luqman left after realizing the "corrupt and deviant manhaj [method]" of Junud ash-Sham, and joined the IS, and Abu Junaydah followed afterwards, first defecting to the Nusra Front and then to the IS, having abandoned the misconceptions instilled in him about the group by Abu Suleiman al-Muhajir, an Australian cleric in Nusra. He was ultimately killed by "Crusader planes" in Aleppo in the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, corresponding to mid-September 2015.
The other biography regards Abu Shurayh as-Silani, a Sri Lankan fighter who was killed in a Syrian airstrike in ar-Raqqah on July 12, 2015.
Six months after the publication of his last article in Dabiq, the latest issue includes a new piece attributed to British captive John Cantlie, a follow-up to his piece from March 2015, "Paradigm Shift". The header image shows Cantlie dressed in a yellow outfit with copies of Issue 11 of Dabiq and newspapers in front of him. He referenced an article in Foreign Policy by Aaron David Miller, "It's Not Obama's Fault," published on September 11, 2015, giving an indication that the writing is fairly recent. In the piece, Cantlie expanded upon the argument he raised in the first part, that the IS is no longer an organization but a county. He wrote about its current position:
The bombs have certainly killed many mujāhidīn but more arrive to take their place every day, each one just as eager as the last to die a shahīd for the sake of Allah. The bombs have certainly destroyed many tanks and armoured vehicles of the Islamic State taken as booty from the Iraqi army (there’s only one gear in Iraqi army tanks: reverse) but the mujāhidīn have merely acquired more from the next fleeing unit. The soldiers of the Caliphate have proved to be a force surprisingly resilient to the shatter and blast of a Paveway bomb or Hellfire missile.
And all the while, the Caliphate country they fight and die to support has continued to grow and mature. The mujāhidīn enjoy fighting the most, but they have proved to be remarkably good at adapting to the needs of social requirements and government, too. Having established their country and set a new order in place within the Middle East, what happens over the next few years is more up to the Islamic State than any exterior force.
The first option is that they continue to expand the borders of the Caliphate throughout the region until economic or military limitations stop them and they afterwards consolidate their positions. Too bad for the West, it doesn’t look like such limitations exist for the Caliphate. The second option is that they goad the West into launching an all-out ground attack, thereby setting the scene for the final battle between Muslims and the crusaders prophesized to be held at Dābiq in Syria, by conducting an operation overseas that is so destructive that America and its allies will have no alternative but to send in an army. This would have to be something on the same scale, if not bigger, than 9/11. Then again, I’m just guessing. American “hawks” may very well come to Dābiq on their own without the Islamic State needing to blow up any dirty bombs in Manhattan.
Focusing on the recent division to plague the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, the branch of al-Qaeda in Somalia, the magazine features an interview with a fighter in Somalia identified as Abu Muharib as-Sumali. Despite only two groups of fighters within the Shabaab - one in northern Somalia and one in the central regions of the county - pledging to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Muharib said that "several groups" in the south have pledged, and that more will do so after the security situation allows them. He claimed the leadership of the Shabaab view al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri as "simply a symbolic figure who has no real control of affairs," and it uses the pledge to him as a "political tool" to stop internal political issues within the group.
Abu Muharib also confirmed reports that the Shabaab has taken a hardline approach against any fighter who has openly pledged or has shown support to the IS. He stated:
Firstly, it is the known policy of the Shabāb leadership to kill any armed group who defects from their movement or anyone who is perceived to have destabilized the unity of the soldiery under their hold. Secondly, after the Khilāfah announcement, they have utilized several methods to deter, oppress, and terrorize those mujāhidīn in their ranks who support the Khilāfah. These methods include imprisoning the Khilāfah supporters, raiding their houses to cause them fear, isolating them, and using financial punishments such as cutting allowances for their families as a pressure tactic to force them to compromise. Sadly, these allowances were raised from Muslims for the sake of jihād, not for the purpose of waging a campaign against the Khilāfah.
They have also forced many mujāhidīn to attend their “shar’ī” courses in an attempt to create doubts about the Khilāfah amongst the soldiers. They have also several times banned distribution of Islamic State videos but reversed this ban due to the sheer popularity of the Islamic State’s media. Through their security department, they have made intimidating phone calls and threatening SMS messages to various Khilāfah supporters. Despite all this, the drive towards bay’ah is phenomenal and is maintaining an explosive pace. The soldiers continue to take the risk and defect, seeking to join any of the newly formed Khilāfah battalions.
At the conclusion of the interview, Abu Muharib advised Somali Muslims in the West to leave for IS-held territories, and that if they cannot, they should mount attacks at home.
One of the final pages in the magazine shows images of the dead bodies of the Chinese and Norwegian hostages the IS revealed it was holding in Issue 11 of Dabiq. In that issue, the IS identified the Chinese hostage as Fan Jinghui, a freelance consultant, and the Norwegian as Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Oftsad. The message for each said: “To whom it may concern of the Crusaders, pagans, and their allies, as well as what are referred to as human ‘rights’ organizations, this (Chinese/Norwegian) prisoner was abandoned by his government, which did not do its utmost to purchase his freedom”. Across the center of the image in Issue 12, the IS declared: "Executed After Being Abandoned by the Kafir [disbeliever] Nations and Organizations".