In a vide message, Islamic State made calls to American Muslims to join ‘ISIS North America’. Writes Bridget Johnson
A video posted online urges followers of the Islamic State to help form a province of the terror group in the United States called ISIS North America.
The video is dated “new 2022” in the first frame and was posted on a file-sharing site this month. It consists of simple white English-language writing on a black background, instead of being dressed up with images of ISIS battles or adherents as in many videos with higher production value associated with the terror group.
Propaganda including videos, magazines, online memes, instructional leaflets, etc., is produced both through official ISIS channels and — more prolifically since the fall of the declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria — by independent groups and lone actors waging what they call “media jihad.” Regardless of the production source, this ISIS-supporting propaganda is intended to recruit, threaten, and incite, with a particular emphasis on urging followers to use accessible weapons and attack soft targets on their home turf.
“To those who want to try,” it begins with an ISIS flag as a nasheed plays. “To my brothers following in the path of the Khilafa in America I urge you to come join our group.”
“This new group will operate in the United States to surprise the murtad in their own lands,” the video continues. The wording suggests that the group intends to target Muslims seen as turning their back on ISIS’ interpretation of Islam — how the terror group defines apostasy — instead of the general population, referred to as kuffar or disbelievers.
“The name of this group will be named ISIS-NA (Islamic State of Iraq & Sham – North America),” the video states. It then shows imaginings of the Nevada and California flags as “Flag of Tawheed” — the concept of oneness in Islam and why ISIS followers make the hand gesture of raising a single index finger.
The video says that it was linked in the comment section of Islamic State videos on the file-sharing site, assuring viewers that if they followed the link and arrived at the video “you are at the right place.”
“Do not send this video anywhere else as this will alert the kuffar. Do not join if you aren’t commited [sic] to our organization and do not join to make jokes, we will trace every keylog you make if you do this,” it continues.
“My dear brother or sister, may Allah grant you good health and happiness for watching this video. Spread the word about this organization to those who are trustful but be careful with doing so,” the video cautions. “May Allah grant this organization with success and may Allah grant us Jannah [paradise].”
The video was posted by a user called “Cell of the IS,” and one of the tags on the post is Al-Furat Media Center, an official ISIS outlet that was launched in 2015 to distribute Russian-language ISIS propaganda as well as other regional languages. The only ISIS province noted in the tags is Khorasan, referring to the group in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. “Brothers do not spread this video,” it adds in the video description.
In its first English-language magazine recently released online, ISIS Khorasan declared that theirs is the “most important province” of ISIS after Iraq and Syria.
The push to ensure ISIS ranks and accompanying visuals extend far beyond the territory of the former physical caliphate began many years ago, as the terror group saw value in encouraging the formation of provinces that could recruit, train, and attack close to home. In a November 2016 audio message, late ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi referred to ISIS units in regions such as Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Indonesia, Philippines, Sinai, Bangladesh, West Africa and North Africa as the “base of the caliphate,” and warned that “kuffar [disbelievers] will try to split you.”
ISIS’ official weekly newsletter al-Naba is largely dedicated to posting updates from different provinces, and some of these regional groups also distribute content through their own media outlets.
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe.