Jihadists Question if NYC Attacker Motivated by IS Spokesman or Jihadi Essay to Lone Wolves

Following an incident in which a man attacked New York City police officers with a hatchet, jihadists praised the attack and questioned if the perpetrator, Zale Thompson, was motivated by recent jihadist propaganda. Of such propaganda, jihadists seemed particularly focused on a speech by Islamic State (IS) spokesman Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani and a jihadi essay urging lone wolves in the U.S. to wage an "aggressive and sustained" campaign on targets that include policemen.

In messages posted on a prominent jihadist discussion forum on October 24, 2014, jihadists discussed the event, with some considering it a lone-wolf attack and praising God. User "Al-Khattab" characterized the attack as "A successful hit," and made a praising paraphrase of the video's report of there being "so much blood on the ground from the American policeman." The user also followed up, "and she says about the Muslim man: He cut off his head for no reason... Allah is Great, Allah is Great..."

Similarly, another user, under the name "Hafeed Saifullah al-Maslool," commented of Thompson, "May his right hand be blessed if he is a Muslim."

indeed.jpgThe attack also promted questions as to what may have motivated Thompson. One forum user thought that the incident might be linked to 'Adnani's September 21, 2014, speech, "Indeed, You Lord is Ever Watchful," in which he incited Muslims in countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition against the IS to attack those countries' citizens.

Another user, under the name "Rub'ee bin 'Ammer," questioned if Thompson was perhaps inspired by the jihadi essay "To 2.6M Muslims in USA: A Call to Arms to Defend Islam and Avenge the Slaughter of Muslims," which was distributed in Arabic and English on September 16, 2014. In this essay, the author wrote that there are higher benefits to killing a police officer as to a regular citizen—most notably on grounds of economics:

Because the cost associated with the process of recruiting, training, preparing and outfitting Johnny [a hypothetical police officer] for the job before putting him on the street is significant. So there is a significant economical impact resulting from eliminating Johnny in addition to the impact of loss of his life on his family and friends.

The author of the essay also claimed that there is an added value of terror to killing a police officer:

There is also a very important icing on the cake, too. Knocking off a police, military or any other law enforcement officer sends a chilling message to the so called "civilians" and fill their hearts with consternation.

Notably, on October 24, the jihadist who authored the essay responded to a discussion thread on a top-tier jihadi forum about the New York City attack, writing:

Perhaps the appeal to the Muslims of America (A Message to 2.6 Million Muslims in America), which was published here in the past month, and then the appeal of Sheikh al-'Adnani, may Allah preserve him, bore results, praise and gratitude be to Allah. We wait for more of these lone wolf operations.

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