Amidst the call for peace during the holiest month of Islam, Ramadan, the Islamic State has called upon its followers to commit heinous acts of indiscriminate terror.
During the initial days of Ramadan, which began at sundown on May 26th, hundreds died. Most of the dead were women and children. Even the Taliban, currently in the middle of their traditional Ramadan offensive, denied involvement in the targeting of civilians.
On May 28th, an ISIS attack in Egypt killed 28 Coptic Christians. On May 31st, an ISIS attack in Afghanistan killed 90. In Kabul, a sewage truck loaded with over 1,500 kilograms of high explosives smashed over the barricades in front of the German Embassy. The Suicide Vehicle Bourne Explosive Device (SVBIED) detonated, immediately killing 9 Afghan guards stationed in the outer perimeter of the embassy. 11 American contractors were wounded as shrapnel flew through the fence and between the bomb shields.
In total the attack, reminiscent of the 2008 attack on the US Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, killed 90 people and injured hundreds more, most of whom were civilians.
For well over a decade, Ramadan has been marked by intensifying jihadist activities. In recent years those activities have been aimed primarily against civilian targets. These “soft targets” can be executed with minimal means, yet inflict the maximum amount of suffering and the maximum amount of terror.
Recent developments show that these mass casualty attacks are unlikely to remain confined to the Middle East and Asia. In May 2016, an ISIS spokesperson called for continuous attacks on Western targets by followers, and throughout 2017 affiliated forums have been rife with encouragements to continue the practice during Ramadan 2017.
Traditionally the 27th day of Ramadan, known as the day of Laylat al-Qadr or “Night of Power,” has been the day to launch righteous attacks against enemies of Islam. This is the day when the Islamic prophet Mohammed allegedly began receiving the first verses of the Qu’ran. On this day security services throughout the world remain on high alert.
Throughout Ramadan of 2016, Islamic State affiliated believers throughout the world attacked soft targets.
On June 12th, Omar Mateen killed 49 at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. On June 28th, an ISIS affiliated group of fighters killed 48 at the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. On that same day, 200 died from a car bomb in Baghdad, Iraq. On July 2nd, a group attacked 20 at a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. On July 4th, several car bombs went off throughout Saudi Arabia killing multiple civilians.
The Amaq news service, an ISIS affiliated propaganda outlet, has on multiple occasions in the past week called on attacks similar to those seen in 2016.
With last year’s Ramadan being the bloodiest in recorded history, the Middle East region is weary and terrified that 2017 will be much the same. The Kuwaiti branch of the regional telecom giant Zain released a Ramadan statement, encouraging people to “counter [terrorist] attacks of hatred with songs of love. From now until happiness.” The video went viral throughout the region almost immediately.
John Sjoholm, Lima Charlie News
[Main Image: Kabul attack, May 31, 2017: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]
John Sjoholm is Lima Charlie’s Middle East Bureau Chief, and founder of the consulting organization Erudite Group. He is a seasoned Middle East connoisseur, with a past in the Swedish Army’s Special Forces branch and the Security Contracting industry. He studied religion and languages in Sana’a, Yemen, and Cairo, Egypt. He lived and operated extensively in the Middle East between 2005-2012 as part of regional stabilizing projects, and currently resides in Jordan. Follow John on Twitter @JohnSjoholmLC
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