Even though ISIS is suffering major losses and is diminishing in power, its lone operatives remain a threat to the United States.
According to The Daily Mail, ISIS has released a new propaganda poster revealing one of its intended targets over the Christmas holiday. It’s Times Square in New York City — and hints at the use of explosives.
Times Square draws massive crowds during the holiday season, a fact ISIS undoubtedly hopes to exploit in a future attack, especially during a time of cheer and reflection centered on Jesus Christ.
Their latest propaganda poster shows an operative dressed as Santa Claus looking out over the crowd in Times Square. He’s carrying a laden bag next to a box of dynamite. The caption on the poster reads: “We meet at Christmas in New York…soon.”
It’s part of a series of threats issued by the terrorist organization over encrypted social media channels and shared by their followers and supporters.
The threats have also been directed at parts of Europe. One poster shows a hooded operative standing behind a distressed, kneeling Santa Claus. They appear to be on London’s Regent Street. The caption states: “Soon on your holidays” with the message also translated into French and German.
Another poster shows a lone operative standing near a Christmas Market in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In the terrorist’s bloody hands is a knife. The message on this one says, “Soon in your holidays.”
The final poster shows an ISIS operative standing next to a wolf overlooking the Vatican. Next to the operative rests a rocket launcher. The top of the poster reads, “O Tawhid Brothers. O the Caliphate’s Lone Wolves.”
The message in the poster states: “The Crusaders’ feast is approaching their convoys will crowd itself in front of you prepare and plan for them show them the meaning of terrorism kill them and do not hold back with your blood the reward is paradise and let them know that you are from an Ummah where mountains bow down to we will not forget our revenge for every drop of blood that they have shed we will not exclude the young elderly or women you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is more even worse.”
All of the intended targets are well-known locations expected to have hundreds if not thousands of people in attendance, making them likely targets for lone operatives looking to prove their loyalty to ISIS.
More concerning is that ISIS operatives have committed such murderous attacks of terror before. On December 19, 2016, ISIS member Anis Amri hijacked a truck and plowed the vehicle into a crowd gathered at the Christmas market in Breitscheidplatz, Berlin. A dozen people were killed in that tragic attack, and 56 were injured.
With ISIS losing its control in the Middle East, they are no doubt desperate for a means to show their relevance as an organization and that still poses a threat. Successful attacks carried out by their operatives abroad would go a long way toward recruitment efforts and accomplishing their goal of spreading fear.
ISIS has threatened Times Square, warning there may be an attack during Christmas. Is ISIS a bigger threat than the media portrays?
While these threats are terrifying, it should be noted that ISIS has made many threats over the years it has failed to act upon. The Vatican, for instance, has been a rhetorical target of ISIS since its founding and not once has it ever been attacked.
It is likely that these are more empty threats from a dying organization and no bloodshed will be seen in the upcoming Christmas festivities. But one can never be sure — and that requires eternal vigilance.