ISIS Urges Followers to Attack Churches on New Year’s Celebrations

The Islamic State released the addresses of Christian churches in the U.S. and called on its followers to attack them during the celebrations for the “Christian New Year.”
An unloaded Twitter website is seen on a phone without an internet connection, in front of a displayed ISIS flag in this photo.

Reuters/Dado Ruvic

The Islamic State released the addresses of Christian churches in the U.S. and called on its followers to attack them during the celebrations for the “Christian New Year.”

In a series of posts made through the messaging app Telegram, messages targeted toward lone wolf attackers urged ISIS followers to aim for “bloody celebrations” on New Year's Day.

Using the terror group’s account, ‘Secrets of Jihadis,’ a user named Abu Marya al-Iraq posted a message in Arabic encouraging attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie,” according to a report from Vocativ.

Another message posted to the group called the “sons of Islam” to attack famous public places like churches, markets, hotels and others in the U.S., France, Canada and the Netherlands. The message lists down the names and locations of such places.

The terror group released a similar “kill list" in June, targeting more than 8,000 people from ordinary Americans to police officers. The list reportedly revealed their names, addresses and email addresses.

United Cyber Caliphate, which posted the list to Telegram, urged ISIS supporters to kill identified individuals to avenge Muslims. No attack has been associated with the list so far.

ISIS previously used popular social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, but recently, it has been increasingly using Telegram, which allows the terror group to send encrypted messages to its followers. This makes it more difficult for authorities to track the group’s followers online.

“There are a lot of technological capabilities that are available right now that make it exceptionally difficult, both technically as well as legally, for intelligence and security services to have the insight they need to uncover,” CIA Director John Brennan said.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a nongovernment organization that tracks Jihadist threats, confirmed that there have been such postings on the terror group’s social media accounts, according to USA Today.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Berlin Christmas market attack on Dec. 19. The suspect for the attack, 24-year-old Tunisian man named Anis Amri, hijacked a truck and drove through the crowds, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others. He was killed in a shootout Friday after he opened fire to police officers in Milan.

Security has been intensified in some U.S. cities after the Berlin Christmas market attack. Boston has put barricades surrounding its holiday market, while Chicago and New York have deployed more police officers during the holiday celebrations despite reports indicating the absence of imminent terrorist threat.

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