ISIS social media posts surge after Al Baghdadi’s suicide
Security analysts noted a rise in pro-ISIS social media posts after the death of leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and predict an influx of new support for the group.
The increased traffic comes despite the terrorist group failing to officially acknowledge Al Baghdadi’s demise.
The Counter Extremism Project, which monitors posts by radicals, said ISIS members were taking to social media reaffirming their allegiance and pledging to continue fighting.
David Ibsen, the project’s executive director, told The National the group will use his death as an opportunity to expand its online presence.
“Official ISIS news channels have been posting regular propaganda including stories of attacks by ISIS fighters around the world and photos of captured weapons,” he said.
“Individuals in pro-ISIS chats on Telegram have been urging patience, and warning users not to believe non-ISIS media or spread rumours. Some chatroom participants have discussed the concepts of martyrdom and perseverance, and have repledged support to ISIS.
“It is likely that there will be increased online activity, such as the creation of new Telegram channels, before the release of an official statement by the group. ISIS continues to have a sustained Telegram presence, and might take the opportunity of an appointment of a new leader to try to expand online activity.”
Using the group’s preferred social media channel Telegram, ISIS supporters have already been posting rallying calls
ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was buried at sea and given his religious rites according to Islamic custom after the commando raid that left him dead in northern Syria, US officials said.
His remains were delivered to sea by aircraft but the location was not disclosed nor how long the burial lasted.
He died when he detonated a suicide vest after fleeing into a tunnel as elite US special forces closed in, the US government said.
Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday that the US military disposed of Al Baghdadi’s remains “appropriately, in accordance with the law of armed conflict”.
The UAE, a member of the coalition to fight ISIS, said the terrorist’s death “signifies a victory for all nations united in the fight against terrorism and extremism”.
Given the gruesome nature of Al Baghdadi’s death, it was unlikely the US military followed as complete a process as it did after Navy Seals killed Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid into Pakistan. Bin Laden was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, the US government said.
In the case of Bin Laden, his body was taken to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. It was washed before being covered in a white sheet, and religious remarks translated into Arabic were read over the corpse.
Bin Laden’s burial at sea triggered mixed reactions, with a prominent imam saying the United States breached Islamic
custom by not burying Bin Laden on land, a move seen as a US attempt to prevent the terrorist leader’s resting place from becoming a shrine for extremist followers.
In the United States, some questioned why the man responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people was laid to rest with such respect.
Gen Milley did not give details about any of Al Baghdadi’s last rites. He said that before disposal, the remains were taken to a secure facility to confirm his identity with DNA testing.
“It’s been done and is complete,” Gen Milley said.
Syrian Kurds claimed to be a key source of the intelligence that led Americans to Al Baghdadi after years of tracking the man behind a five-year reign of terror across much of Iraq and Syria.
An unnamed US military dog was an unlikely hero of the raid, sustaining injuries as it chased Al Baghdadi down a dead-end tunnel beneath his hideout, where the militant blew himself up, killing three children in the explosion. The dog is back on duty, Gen Milley said.
Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi