Today, the Islamic State’s al-Furqan media released a new speech from Islamic State spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari. The speech, entitled “And kill them wherever you find them” (taken from Qur’an 2:191), focused primarily on the Israel-Gaza war but was a very predictable reiteration of the group’s talking points: (i) that the battle in Palestine is a religious war against Jews, and not one about liberation to establish a national homeland, (ii) denunciation of the various ‘nationalist’ Palestinian factions and those like Hamas aligned with the broader Iranian-led ‘resistance’ axis, which is utilised by Iran as a Shi‘i expansionist project that is no less dangerous if not more so to Islam and Muslims than the state of Israel, (iii) the various Sunni Arab governments are ‘apostate’ entities that are part of the Jewish-‘Crusader’ alliance against Islam, (iv) the correct form of jihad is one the Islamic State pursues to establish the rule of God’s law, and fighting all the disbelievers.
Within this context, the Islamic State has now launched a new expedition entitled “Kill them wherever you find them,” beginning with claiming responsibility for the two bombings that took place on in the hometown of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander Qasim Sulaymani on the fourth anniversary of his assassination by the Americans. As soon as the sheer scale of the killing of people in such an indiscriminate terrorist attack, it became evident to me that the bombings were likely an Islamic State operation (though it is always wise to wait and see if the group claims a particular attack). Blaming Israel for the incident, as John Hopkins professor Vali Nasr did, was frankly ludicrous. It is simply not Israel’s modus operandi to engage in such terroristic acts inside Iran: rather, Israel pursues carefully targeted killings for specific goals like undermining Iran’s nuclear program. The suggestions that the attacks might have been an inside Iranian job also struck me as ridiculous.
These attacks illustrate the Islamic State’s unchanging basic worldview and that it is ultimately a marginal player in wider regional geopolitics. The Islamic State pursues an ideologically purist agenda based on fighting all others who do not share its rigid political program, wherever it is possible for the group’s members and supporters to do so. Ultimately, this amounts to the same old messaging and the same old tactics. While there was concern that these bombings would somehow trigger further ‘regional escalation,’ they are in reality a sideshow, especially now that the Islamic State has officially claimed the attacks.
Below is the statement by Islamic State claiming responsibility for the Iran bombings, translated by me.
As part of the ‘And kill them wherever you find them’ expedition: the killing and wounding of more than 300 of the idolatrous Rafidites [Shi‘a] in a dual martyrdom operation [suicide bombing] in Iran.
Iran: Thursday, 22 Jumada al-Akhira 1445 AH
Through granting of success by God Almighty, and as part of the ‘And kill them wherever you find them’ expedition, two martyrdom operative brothers- Omar al-Muwahhid and Sayf Allah al-Mujahid (may God Almighty accept them both)- headed yesterday towards a great gathering of idolatrous Rafidites, near the tomb of their hypocrite leader ‘Qasim Sulaymani’ in the town of Kerman in southern Iran. There, they blew up their explosive belts amid their gathering. This resulted in the killing and wounding of more than 300 idolatrous Rafidites. Thanks and praise be to God.
May the idolatrous Rafidites know that the mujahidin lie in wait for them and their projects, by the permission of God Almighty.