As the United States begins airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in northern Iraq, jihadists have called for attacks on American interests at home and abroad.
With the attacks, rhetoric regarding retaliation on the U.S. has been aggressively pushed into the forefront by jihadists. Twitter has flooded with messages in support of IS and threats against the US, with many thinking of ways of how to best bring damage to America.
Some IS-supporting media groups, as well as jihadist users on Twitter, suggested that striking oil interests in the Gulf will deliver a severe blow to the American economy and hasten its defeat. Tarjuman al-Asawirti, a pro-IS media group, wrote:
The Arabian region will be ignited, the oil wells and supply lines to the West will be blown up. You have entered a battle with lions of a different type. To kill America lies in oil. It must be cut to end the life of America. Destroying the destructive American economy will bring America to its knees, and this is through the supply lines in the Gulf.
Jihadist hashtags regarding the U.S. have connected many similarly threatening statements from jihadists—welcoming various calls for retaliation as well as graphic pictures of beheadings and dead bodies of people killed by jihadists. Such hashtags include an Arabic one translating to "Obama Announces the Bombardment of the Islamic State" and the longstanding #CalamityWillBefallUS, which has gone from averaging 0-33 uses in the past month to a spike of 836 times on August 7.
A Twitter account claiming to be a "miltary analyst and strategist" for IS posted a picture of the 9/11 attacks in New York, accompanied by the #CalamityWillBefallUS hashtag and statement, "there shall be new 9/11s soon."
One IS-aligned Twitter account, fluent in English and claiming to be in Idlib, threatened Western nations with attacks from jihadist sleeper cells in retaliation for any airstrikes on IS in an August 8, 2014 tweet stating, "Western nations should fear the reaction of sleeper cells within their States when they consider attacking IS."
The same user, who also claims to be "an aid worker and activist working mainly in Latakia and Idlib," regularly writes pro-IS rhetoric on his account. In another tweet, he addressed the planned U.S. airstrikes, stating:
The Islamic state were anticipating US intervention long before Hoebama addressed it. They are well ahead of the US fools.Resisitance=futile
Another alleged IS fighter in Syria took to an aggressive tone toward Muslims supporting the U.S. on Twitter, stating in an August 8, 2014 tweet:
Whoever calls himself a muslim, and supports US over ISIS needs to be hanged by his ears. Even though we disagree with ISIS, but it's US!
Other tweets by IS-supporters display aggressive messages of embrace, stating that U.S. troops should "be careful the game is ON" and that the "war is gonna get bigger n better." One Twitter account of an alleged IS fighter claimed on the same day that the airstrikes will "give #IS caliphate legitimacy in jihadi circles" and will result in a "boost in recruitment" for IS. The user tweeted a prior note of optimism, stating:
So, United States has declared war on the Caliphate. This will be interesting. And Allaah is with those who believe.
Prominent jihadist Abu al-'Ayna al-Khorasani, an administrator of the top-tier jihadi forum Shumukh al-Islam, wrote on his Twitter account on August 8, 2014 that fighters must unite to combat the U.S., and that the airstrikes signify Islam itself as the nation's target.
The infidel America strikes the monotheists in Yemen and Somalia and now in Iraq, and tomorrow, maybe in Sham. It is a clear message that the war is against Islam and the mujahideen. The mujahideen must strive and seek to execute proactive operations in their own home, America, to discipline America and its criminal soldiers.
"Talk of unity from Al-'Ayna and other jihadists begs a pressing question," says SITE Intelligence Director Rita Katz. "Will the airstrikes from the U.S. Change the hostility between IS and al-Nusra and al-Qaeda? After all, the U.S. is their common and most important enemy."
The dynamic between IS and al-Qaeda's (AQ) al-Nusra Front has not been commented on by any official leaders in light of the airstrikes, but scant discussions have surfaced on social media. An IS-supporting Twitter account showed bitterness toward al-Nusra Front, stating, "how many Jabhat Al-Jolani tweeps are happy that the #IS is being targeted, isn't that clear Ridda [Apostasy] ?!" To this statement, one user replied:
where shall they hide akhi? Time to decide; with us or against us.
Sections of this article were taken and adapted from separate SITE News pieces.