Earlier today, ‘Amaq News Agency, which is linked to the Islamic State’s online propaganda operations, released the statement above praising the shootings in San Bernardino, California. The message was released on the website for ‘Amaq and disseminated on Twitter.
‘Amaq has not claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the “caliphate.” Instead, the media group says that “supporters” of the Islamic State killed 14 people and wounded 17. The statement also noted the husband and wife responsible were from Pakistan.
Thus far, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization has not issued an official declaration on the massacre. The jihadists may do so in short order, but their rhetoric thus far is consistent with an act of terror that was inspired by the Islamic State, but not directed by it.
For example, the message from ‘Amaq notes that the killings in San Bernardino were carried out not long after the coordinated assault in Paris on November 13 and a suicide bombing in Tunisia on November 24. The Paris operation was organized by Islamic State officials and members based in Syria, according to numerous accounts. And within hours the Islamic State issued an official claim of responsibility in several languages. The same was true in the case of the Tunisia bombing, which was quickly claimed by the Islamic State’s followers in North Africa.
In the case of Paris, the Islamic State said “soldiers of the Caliphate” were responsible. Indeed, the terrorists were known members of group. In the case of Tunisia, the Islamic State’s message said that a “knight from the knights of martyrdom” struck presidential guards. In both instances, the official statements were formatted in the same fashion, with white text, a blue body, and a red header. This is, in fact, the format the Islamic State’s international network uses for most claimed attacks.
It is worth noting that with respect to San Bernardino, no such statement has been disseminated — at least not yet. Officials are looking into the terrorists’ backgrounds, their connections, travels, and other details. All of this evidence needs to be weighed. For example, in the past, Syed Farook reportedly contacted individuals “associated” with al Qaeda’s branches in Syria and Somalia. So it is still too early to draw firm conclusions about the couple’s ties. However, the Islamic State’s reaction (or lack thereof) is consistent with a plot inspired, but not planned by the organization.
Details in the statement from ‘Amaq were first published in the Western media. Neither ‘Amaq, nor any other propaganda outlet connected to the Islamic State, has offered any new details about the attackers to date.