Radical jihadi online networks and social media outlets lit up Wednesday, threatening increased attacks targeting U.S. and Israeli interests in the wake of President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital.
Messages posted to open online forums tied to terror groups, such as al Qaeda and Islamic State, and also passed along encrypted messaging applications such as Signal or Telegram — Islamic State’s preferred mode of secure online messaging — were rife with calls to violence and retribution for Mr. Trump’s policy shift.
One Islamic State Telegram channel on Wednesday posted numerous messages featuring the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam located inside the Old City in Jerusalem, with the caption: “We will be between your soldiers and your weapons and your clothing. We will cut off your heads and liberate Jerusalem for you, God willing,” the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical online postings, reported Wednesday.
In separate messages on other extremist-linked social media sites, posted images featuring the mosque ran alongside statements by Islamic State leaders and field commanders, running under the banner “All of al-Quds is the capital of Palestine” — using the Arabic name for Jerusalem, SITE reported.
On al Qaeda-linked social media sites, programmers resurrected a call to arms by Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the slain leader of the group’s Yemeni cell known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, demanding the group’s followers “apply pressure without pause until all of Palestine is conquered.”
The terror group’s fighters and sympathizers must “kill those of the Crusaders we find on our land, and destroy the Western interests” until the state of Israel collapses, according to the al-Wuhayshi quote. The al Qaeda chieftain was killed in a June 2015 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
Some Palestinian groups are calling for “three days of rage” in protest over Mr. Trump’s decision. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is expected to hold a televised address Tuesday, although a statement from the terror group gave no specifics regarding Mr. Nasrallah’s planned comments.
Even before Mr. Trump’s official announcement Wednesday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the U.S. shift on Jerusalem crosses “every red line” regarding Washington’s relations with the Middle East.
The embassy relocation puts the U.S. on a path toward “dangerous escalation” with the Arab world, possibly sparking a third Palestinian “intifada” or uprising that would plunge the region into another bloody cycle of violence.
The last such revolt, known as the Al-Aqsa intifada, began in 2000 after then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a personal visit to the Temple Mount, also known as Haram esh-Sharif to Muslims, sparking over four years of vicious fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of “profound” gratitude for Mr. Trump’s move, saying he shares the president’s commitment “to advancing peace between Israel and all of our neighbors, including the Palestinians.”
But officials in Iran echoed the warnings on jihadist websites by saying that Mr. Trump’s unilateral decision will meet with a violent response.
“The provocative and unwise decision by the U.S. to recognize [Jerusalem] as the integrated capital of the Zionist regime will not contribute to regional peace and stability,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Rather, it will enrage the Muslims and fan the flames of a new intifada, prompting violent acts for which the U.S. and the Zionist regime should stand accountable.”
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