Jihadists’ use of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statements regarding Muslims has been a hot topic in recent media discussions. On December 19, 2015, Hillary Clinton asserted that the Islamic State (IS) was “going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s Director of Communications, subsequently acknowledged that the campaign was unaware of such a video, stating, “She didn’t have a particular video in mind, but he is being used in social media.” Trump gloated in the gaffe.
The 2015 fall of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Central Asian jihadi movement that has long fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, highlights the impact of two fundamental shifts in the jihadi landscape during 2015. Mobilized by the Afghan Taliban’s two-year-long deception over the death of the Taliban’s enigmatic and magnetic former leader, Mullah Omar, the IMU responded to the Islamic State’s (IS) attempts to create a foothold in Afghanistan.
Two days after the attack in San Bernardino, a statement from an Islamic State (IS)-linked media group broke what had been a relatively quiet response from the jihadist community. The message, released on December 4, 2015 by the ‘Amaq News Agency, stated of the attackers, Syed Farouk and Tashfeen Malik:
The two attackers shot inside the center, causing the killing of 14 people and the wounding of 17 others, and fled, before being killed later after a gunfire exchange with American police, who chased them for several hours.
At 2:05 PM on November 15, two days after the Paris attacks, a Telegram channel disseminating Islamic State (IS) propaganda posted a message discussing the “Isdarat [Releases]” website, which archives IS propaganda and releases from other IS-affiliated groups. The message shared links to a Tor hidden service with a “.onion” address, more commonly known as a website on the “dark web,” for the Isdarat outlet.
The Islamic State’s (IS) coordinated terror attack staged throughout Paris on the evening of November 13, 2015—Europe’s most deadly urban terror attack in over a decade—signal a simultaneous return to jihadi ideological roots as well as a new era in tactical evolution and strategic ambition.