Headlines across major media outlets reported today that the Islamic State (IS) had threatened an “attack on Washington.” The reports referred to a video released today by IS, and have implied its threats as a revelation of coming attacks, further rattling the nerves of a public still in shock from the Paris attacks. While the video these articles refer to did issue a threat, it did so out of celebration for the Paris attacks, and it does not represent any concrete development in the ongoing threat from IS. That stated, these threats need to be placed in perspective—not blown out of proportion.
Islamic State (IS) fighters and supporters on social media erupted in explosive celebration over the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, which resulted in over 150 dead. The extent of the celebration far exceeded past online rallying by IS supporters, especially noting the fact that IS has not claimed the attack.
As the Islamic State’s (IS) claim for taking down KGL9268—the Russian plane that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31—seems increasingly plausible by the day, British officials have now identified Abu Usama al-Masri as a “person of interest” in the matter.
The downing of KGL9268 is a tragedy riddled with conflicting variables within a weighted geopolitical context: a plane of Russian passengers amid the escalation of Russian forces in Syria; the plane’s downing over an Islamic State (IS)-plagued region; a vague claim of responsibility from IS; and an equally vague statement by a Kogalymavia airline official that the crash was caused by “external influence.”
Emerging reports of a 15 year-old boy inspired by the Islamic State (IS) to plot an attack against Pope Francis in Philadelphia speaks to what a terror resource social media has become. There remains little information on the case, but an FBI-DHS bulletin claimed, "The minor obtained explosives instructions and further disseminated these instructions through social media.” As a daily witness to the relentless campaign by IS recruiters to coordinate lone wolf attacks in the West, this is less than surprising.