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In a new release on Sunday from chief propagandist of the Islamic State (or Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham), Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī called for Muslims everywhere to kill Westerners in whatever manner possible:

So O muwahhid wherever you may be, hinder those who want to harm your brothers and state  as much as you can. The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American, or from any of their allies.
{O you who have believed, take your precaution and [either] go forth in companies or go forth
all together} [An-Nisā’: 71].
If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him. Do not lack. Do not be contemptible. Let your slogan be, “May I not be saved if the cross worshipper and taghūt (ruler ruling by manmade laws) patron survives.”

If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops.

This (admittedly brutal) call for the murder of Americans, and our allies, by any means necessary, has received substantial press, as does almost every statement issued by ISIS, thanks in part to their mastery of social media, and comes on the back of a plot by ISIS supporters to kidnap and behead random civilians, which was recently broken up by Australian security forces. Other online chatter from ISIS included discussion of targeting U.S. military personnel at their homes.

The reality, however is that there is nothing new of substance in this call for individual Muslims to undertake jihad with or without prior contact with ISIS or any other Jihadist terrorist entity. The same strategy has been employed  by Al Qaeda proper for several years, following the publication of their online terrorist manual, “the Lone Mujahid’s pocket book” and updated with monthly editions of Inspire Magazine, which contains instructions ranging from how to conduct arson to building pressure cooker explosives of the same kind used by the Boston marathon bombers.  The murderers of British Army drummer Lee Rigby cited some of the same koranic verses given as evidence by Adnani in their May 2013 beheading attack. The Center for Security Policy produced a lecture discussing the phenomenon in April 2013, where CSP Fellow and Shariah law specialist, Stephen Coughlin pointed out that during World War I, the last-sitting Ottoman Caliph issued an almost identical call for “individual jihad.”  As far back as 2006, Dr. Daniel Pipes coined the phrase “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” to refer to such incidents of terrorism from Muslims otherwise absent established terrorist connections, following the attempt by a Muslim man to run over fellow college students with a rented jeep  (presaging Adnani’s “run him over with your car” command).

Unfortunately the United States continues to be ill-prepared to address such a threat. As noted by veteran journalist Bill Gertz last week, the FBI continues to view jihadist terror solely through the matrix of “international” terrorism:

The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans.

Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the threat to U.S. internal security from extremists is limited to attacks and activities by eight types of domestic extremist movements—none motivated by radical Islam.

Far from innovative, the call by ISIS for believers to exercise the obligation, imposed by shariah, to target and kill “nonbelievers”, individually if necessary, is well within the established doctrines of jihad. And while it ought to go without saying that not all Muslims personally hold to such views, the call by Adnani for individual jihad remains doctrinally accurate, and legally permissible. Rather than attempting to disguise jihad as “workplace violence” or mental illness, only a strategy which accurately addresses the ideological threat posed by shariah will be effective in stopping ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or indeed the “lone” jihadist in the future.


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