Australian Suicide Bomber in Iraq: Another Reminder of IS’s All-Encompassing Recruitment Aim
The recent Islamic State (IS) suicide bombing in Ramadi, Iraq by "Abu Abdullah al-Australi," the alias of Australian teenager Jake Bilardi, has brought shock to Australia and other Western countries. However, news of Bilardi's suicide mission may be less surprising considering the past year of Western-aimed propaganda from IS—much of which specifically directed at Australia.
Bilardi—whose completed suicide mission was announced by IS on March 11 along with those of Belgian, Caucasian (from the Caucasus), Syrian, and Uzbek fighters—is not the first Australian fighter to perform a suicide mission. This past July, an Australian by the name of "Abu Bakr al-Australi" committed a suicide bombing in Baghdad. And IS was sure to use the event as outreach to Australian prospects, hyping him to be a valorous fighter who continued on when "many among the Arabs stopped."
It would be foolish to think that IS conducts its outreach only through such subtle statements. In the past year, IS has published various media releases featuring Australians. On June 19, IS's al-Hayat Media Center released a video showing British and, yes, Australian fighters. One of these Australians, "Abu Nour al-Iraqi," stated:
O brothers in the West, wherever you may be - in Europe, in Australia, in America - the reasons for coming to jihad, the reasons are plenty. Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, may Allah have mercy on him, once said, when it comes to jihad there are two types of people: those who will find every single excuse to come to jihad, and those who will find every single excuse not to come to jihad.
Nothing screamed "Australians Welcome," however, like IS's fourth installment of its "Message of the Mujahid" series. Released on October 20, the video showed a young-looking fighter, identifying as "Abu Khaled al-Australia," touting IS's advances in front of a mob of armed militants. He addressed "the people of America...the people of Britain...[and] especially, the people of Australia" in regard to the U.S.-led coalition, stating:
Whether it's 50 nations or 50,000 nations, it means nothing to us. Bring your planes. Bring everything you want to us, because it will not harm us.
This article is not intended to bring heavy focus solely on Australians, nor even just Westerners for that matter. The intent is, instead, to knock down the mental barriers that make people surprised every time there is a Western suicide bomber with IS, or about boys and girls from the West that leave for Syria. These are the same barriers that make us believe that Western countries are somehow immune to this dangerous propaganda heaved across the internet and into our living rooms.
The internet has enabled IS’s tentacles to reach far beyond their warzones, granting the group an intrusiveness that no military force alone will diminish. I detailed this reach in an article this past August, wherein I quoted Western fighters from IS videos stating that jihadists “are regular people” and how someone “would have to be here to understand” the feeling of living under IS. These messages are—as is suggested by the American and Canadian backgrounds of those speaking the previously quoted words—dangerously effective.
So, while government agencies are trying to figure out how to stop IS’s advances in Iraq, Syria (and now even Libya, Afghanistan/Pakistan, and Nigeria), they need to study IS’s recruitment infrastructure and cut off its propaganda pipeline from the West, and every other corner of the globe.