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ISIS issues hit list of U.S. churches for holiday attacks

Police stand guard outside St Patrick's Cathedral during midnight mass in the Manhattan borough of New York on Dec. 25, 2014. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlo Allegri

(USA Today) The Islamic State is urging its followers to attack U.S. churches and has published names and addresses of thousands of prospective targets, according to a report in the news website Vocativ.

Messages posted in Arabic to the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media site called “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year.” The post, under the name Abu Marya al-Iraqi, said the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, hopes to tap lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie,” Vocativ reports.

A post on ISIL’s social media site called for “bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year.” USA TODAY

The series of messages appeared on Telegram, a messaging app that allows users to send encrypted messages to one another. The group also uses social media to provide instructions on constructing and igniting explosives.

The information on U.S. churches was based on information already available online and includes a public directory of churches across all 50 states, Vocativ said.

Another post urged followers to attack churches, hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places and provided some examples in the U.S. Canada, France and the Netherlands, Vocativ said.

The SITE Intelligence Group has cited similar Islamic State postings in recent days. The Islamic State claims one of its “soldiers” carried out an attack Monday at a Christmas market in Berlin that killed 12 people. A global manhunt is underway for suspect Anis Amri, 24, a Tunisian national.

Cities across the U.S. have bolstered security around holiday events following the Berlin attack.

In New York and Chicago, law enforcement officials said police presence has been increased for holiday events despite no intelligence that indicates specific threats to their cities. In Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh said the city deployed police and put barriers in place around the Boston Holiday market.

(Aamer Madhani contributed to this report)

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John Bacon

21 Comments

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  • Remember ISIS wants you to hate refugees
    “https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/16/the-islamic-state-wants-you-to-hate-refugees/?utm_term=.bc4d2effe165
    “If Muslim refugees come to Europe and are welcomed, it deeply undercuts the Islamic State’s legitimacy. Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has helpfully catalogued
    some of the Islamic State’s messages on the refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East. The messages give the impression of deep discomfort and even jealousy that the Muslim population the Islamic
    State so covets for its self-proclaimed “caliphate” would rather live in “infidel” Western lands.”

    “What seems almost certain is that the Islamic State wants you to equate refugees with terrorists. In turn, it wants refugees to equate the West with prejudice against Muslims and foreigners.

    So remember, if you are demonizing refugees, you are doing ISIS’s work for free.

  • It’s not enough that ISIS is out to kill as many military and secular civilians as possible in Europe and the US. Now they counsel fraticide against Christians during one of the 2 holiest seasons of the Christian year. Fraticide? Just like Muslims and Jews, Christianity is one of the Abrahamic religions, meaning they look to Abraham as their ancestor..

    These ignorant ISIS jihadists don’t even know their own religious roots! They’re bent on going to any lenth to settle a 7th century score.

  • Not many folks are demonizing bonafide refuges. Who still should be extremely vetted.
    What folks are demonizing is a religion calling for the genocide of Jews and Christians. It’s not up to America Christians, Jews, seculars to learn about Islam and its politics, however it is up to Muslims to inform the West, the countries in which they’re immigrating to inform us of who they are. And we’re not hearing that. So demonizing is not demonizing, it’s intelligent discernment and a love of our own culture.

  • Immigrants ARE “extremely vetted” through several different agencies in three US and Europe and abroad.

  • Well it ain’t working out well. So maybe, just maybe, the Obama vetting process ain’t cutting it.

  • They ARE extremely vetted. They always have been. It’s a political talking point and myth that they aren’t. Refugees are subject to far more scrutiny than any other immigrant type. Refugee status confers more benefits than most visas, including permanent residence. Every person being deported declares themselves a refugee. USCIS does not take it lightly, ever. The whole argument is based on ignorance of how the system works.

    What folks are doing is parroting extremists propaganda including the very pernicious myth that ISIS and the like reflect on the entire faith of 1.4 billion people. It’s akin to equating “christian identity” with Christianity. Taking lying extremists at their word.

    There are too many ignorant bigots who like to make generalizations about religious beliefs which are not their own. Too often here conservative Christians spout off about beliefs of Muslims, Atheists and Jews without a drop of actual knowledge.

  • Really? Despite all the hysteria you haven’t found an instance of ISIS sneaking in terrorists as Syrian refugees. You have no idea what you are talking about. Like many of an anti immigration view, you don’t appear interested in learning the facts either.

  • You’re being silly now. Just because one of the 860 has not yet committed an act of terrorism doesn’t mean one won’t in the future. Even Immigration admitted they should not have granted citizenship to anyone in this group. Do you think you know more about these people than they do?

  • I have served multiple times in the region working with transititional efforts. There are many areas from which refugees are coming where vetting is not possible because the keeping of records on individuals is not part of the tribal landscape. You can run background check after check on folks and come up with nothing, not because they have no history, but because they have no records to check.

  • I have served multiple times in the region working with transititional
    efforts. There are many areas from which refugees are coming where
    vetting is not possible because the keeping of records on individuals is
    not part of the tribal landscape. You can run background check after
    check on folks and come up with nothing, not because they have no
    history, but because they have no records to check.

    Bringing
    refugees from radicalized Islamic areas entails a certain measure of
    risk. There are folks within that population who want to kill American
    citizens. There are folks within that population who are willing to die
    in the act of killing American citizens. No, most of them won’t try to
    harm anyone, but as we have seen in Europe, some of them will try and
    most likely some of them will succeed. The question is “is it worth the
    risk?” A corollary question is “is it worth the dead and injured?”
    Maybe we only lose a few folks, maybe only a few are maimed, maybe no
    one we know personally. Is that cost acceptable to help people whose
    very beliefs inform the culture which has created the crisis?

    Will
    it be a comfort to the parents, spouses, families and friends of people
    killed by radicalized refugees (should it happen again) that we were
    trying to be nice?

    Can we please wake up and start living in the real world instead of thinking everything is disney land.

    And
    yes Spuddie, I expect your snowflake self will be defending Islam as a
    religion of peace, blaming the policies of the west for why they are
    angry and justified in spilling the blood of your fellow citizens,
    claiming anyone who has anything like a realistic expectation informed
    by experience is just a bigot, and so forth.

    Why are people evaluating Muslim radicalized and tribal culture? Because the blood of the dead cries out.

    Not
    all Muslims are radicalized. Many are indeed peaceful. Enough are not
    to warrant a realistic approach to refugees and immigration from
    radicalized areas.

    But if blood is spilled in the US by a
    radicalized Islamic refugee, may Spuddie and those like him sleep in
    peace knowing they were just trying to be nice.

    Those I work
    with will continue to work to try to keep Spuddie, his friends, and all
    Americans safe from those who want to kill you.

  • There’s nothing silly here except, perhaps, your evasion. My questioning is not with ICE. They *may* commit act of terrorism in the future? I wish for a 100% fool proof method of immigration vetting, but “extreme,” which is essentially just an undefined buzzword the pres-elect likes, does not equal “perfect.” The latter does not exist.

  • Except that refugee status requires a great deal of scrutiny when you are here. Far more than any other immigrant type. Since the overwhelming majority of refugees don’t come directly to the US, there is additional vetting done in the interim countries while they are there as well.

    Most of these arguments are based on ignorance as to how the system operates and some outright hysteria. You haven’t said with any degree of clarity that you have any experience in the process. You are just making an unfounded conjecture here.

  • In other words, you have ZERO personal knowledge or experience on the subject and are just pretending you have anything substantial to say on the subject based on conjecture.

    “Bringing refugees from radicalized Islamic areas entails a certain measure of risk.”

    This is a nonsense argument. Refugees from anywhere are coming from the worst hellholes on the planet. It is what made them refugees. These are also the people who are the VICTIMS of Islamicism. These are the people who are most useful in fighting radical Islam.

    “The question is “is it worth the risk?”

    HELL YES! Taking in refugees from the worst parts of the world has always been our nation’s strength. Saving thousands of lives from the worst depredations of war is something to be proud of. A terrorist can only kill people and break things. But panicky people, people willing to compromise or destroy our values for the sake of security, can destroy our nation.

    “claiming anyone who has anything like a realistic expectation informed by experience is just a bigot”

    But you don’t have one. You are not experienced here nor making realistic expectations. You are engaging in panic, gross generalizations and nonsense arguments. You are a bigot if you think you can describe the beliefs of an entire faith of 1.4 billion people with any degree of clarity.

    Hurling insults appears to be far easier for you to do than make sane and well informed arguments.

    Does it give you pause at all that you ARE PARROTING THE ISIS PARTY LINE?!?

    If you seem so hell bent to destroy our nation and what it stands for, then your services are no longer necessary. You aren’t making anyone safe. You are endangering us all.

    Btw You can take your condescending attitude and stick it somewhere painful. I never made personal attacks on you. Go eff yourself.

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