Vir­ginia state se­na­tor cited by Is­lamic State mag­a­zine

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFIN­SKI

Vir­ginia state Sen. Richard H. Black calls it a badge of honor to have been sin­gled out as an en­emy of the Is­lamic State in the cur­rent is­sue of its English-lan­guage mag­a­zine Dabiq, but the Loudoun County Repub­li­can says he feels for oth­ers tar­geted by the ter­ror­ist group.

“I’m more con­cerned about the Chris­tians in the Mid­dle East and the Amer­i­can sol­diers and their fam­i­lies that have been put on the ISIS hit list,” Mr. Black told The Wash­ing­ton Times, us­ing an acro­nym for the Is­lamic State. “I am deeply con­cerned about the fate of Chris­tians in the Mid­dle East.”

Mr. Black, who was made aware of his men­tion in the mag­a­zine’s eighth edi­tion via a cour­tesy call by the Vir­ginia Capitol Po­lice, is just the lat­est politi­cian or an­a­lyst to find him­self sin­gled out in Dabiq as a “cru­sader” try­ing to stop the as­cent of the rad­i­cal Mus­lim move­ment.

The new is­sue, dis­trib­uted late last month, la­bels for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia Sen. Rick San­to­rum, a po­ten­tial 2016 pres­i­den­tial hope­ful, as “the Catholic cru­sader,” and it dubs both Mr. Black and for­mer CIA op­er­a­tive Gary Berntsen as “the Amer­i­can cru­sader.”

Pre­vi­ous is­sues have gone af­ter Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu, for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel, jour­nal­ists and mil­i­tary an­a­lysts — usu­ally quot­ing them tout­ing the dan­gers posed by the Is­lamic State as a way of stress­ing the group’s im­por­tance in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

An­a­lysts say Dabiq is de­signed to be a re­cruit­ing tool for ji­hadists from the West. One is­sue con­tained an ar­ti­cle jus­ti­fy­ing burning alive a Jor­da­nian air force pi­lot who had been held cap­tive by the group; other is­sues pro­claimed mil­i­tary suc­cesses and jeered at far-flung na­tions, warn­ing them not to get in­volved in the fight.

The ob­jec­tive of the “In the Words of the En­emy” sec­tion in which the men are fea­tured is to boost the morale of sup­port­ers and re­cruit Is­lamists who don’t sup­port the group, said Ryan Mauro, na­tional se­cu­rity an­a­lyst for the Clar­ion Project, an ed­u­ca­tional group that stud­ies Is­lamist ex­trem­ism and cat­a­logs the mag­a­zine.

“The last is­sue’s sec­tion had a tone of de­fen­sive­ness,” Mr. Mauro said in an e-mail. “ISIS had just lost the battle in Kobani and the group could not claim victory there with­out los­ing all cred­i­bil­ity, so they used the com­ments of enemies to point out its suc­cesses else­where and to min­i­mize the set­back with­out deny­ing it.”

U.S. airstrikes and Kur­dish troops in late Jan­uary broke the Is­lamic State’s months-long siege of the Syr­ian town of Kobani near Turkey’s bor­der. The ter­ror­ist group still con­trols large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

In the lat­est mag­a­zine, Mr. Black is quoted as say­ing he sees the fight in Syria as the “cen­ter of grav­ity for West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.”

“If it falls, then we will begin to see a very rapid ad­vance of Is­lam on Europe and I think ul­ti­mately, po­ten­tially, the col­lapse of all of Europe,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view with the Rus­sian news out­let RT.

Mr. Black said Tues­day that he sees his in­clu­sion as con­fir­ma­tion that what he has said about the group is ac­cu­rate.

“If we top­ple Syria, we cre­ate a danger­ous vac­uum for ISIS and al Qaeda to fill,” Mr. Black said. “And if the [dreaded] black-and-white flag flies over Da­m­as­cus, then Jor­dan will fall and Le­banon will fall in fairly short or­der.”

Mr. Mauro said ISIS used Mr. Black’s state­ment “to ar­gue that Syria should be the top pri­or­ity of ji­hadists around the world be­cause victory there would lead to the col­lapse of Europe and West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.”

He said the ter­ror­ists cited a quote from Mr. San­to­rum about the group’s strength to ar­gue that ISIS is get­ting stronger and more popular, and that their quot­ing Mr. Berntsen as say­ing the group is the most suc­cess­ful Sunni ter­ror­ist group in his­tory was used “to im­ply Al­lah’s fa­vor and to en­cour­age sup­port­ers of other groups like al Qaeda to unite be­hind them.”

Mr. Black, as a state se­na­tor, does not have the author­ity to di­rectly in­flu­ence U.S. for­eign pol­icy, but he at­tracted at­ten­tion last year when he wrote a thank you let­ter to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad for his army’s lib­er­at­ing and de­fend­ing Chris­tians in the area.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vir­ginia state Sen. Richard H. Black calls it a badge of honor to have been sin­gled out as an en­emy of the Is­lamic State . “I’m more con­cerned about the Chris­tians in the Mid­dle East and the Amer­i­can sol­diers and their fam­i­lies that have been put on the ISIS hit list,” he said. “I am deeply con­cerned about the fate of Chris­tians in the Mid­dle East.”

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