Islamic State issues first official statement on San Bernardino terrorist attack

The Islamic State released its first official statement today on the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif. The group’s Al Bayan “news” bulletin listed the massacre as one of the “caliphate’s” global operations. The English-language version of Al Bayan reads:

California: Two soldiers of the Khilāfah executed an attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California on the 20th of Safar. Light weapons were used, which led to the deaths of 14 disbelievers and the injuring of more than 20 others. An exchange of gunfire with American police followed, eventually ending with both attackers being killed in the path of Allah. We ask Allah to accept them both as shuhadā’ [martyrs].

This is the first time the “caliphate” (Khilāfah) has claimed that the San Bernardino terrorists were its “soldiers.”

However, the Arabic version of Al Bayan contains a key difference. The SITE Intelligence Group reports that the attackers are described as “supporters of the Islamic State” in Arabic. This is consistent with how the ‘Amaq News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic State, labeled them in an earlier message.

The distinction is an important one. The word “soldiers” implies that the shooters were part of the Islamic State’s international organization. But the word “supporters” is more open-ended, and includes individuals with no operational ties to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s jihadists.

Thus far, the Islamic State has not published an official claim of responsibility. Al Bayan does not state that the terrorists in San Bernardino acted under the Islamic State’s direction, nor does the “news” bulletin provide any details that were not already reported.

One of the two shooters, Tashfeen Malik, reportedly swore her allegiance to Baghdadi on social media just minutes after the attack began. Federal authorities are investigating whether Malik or her husband, Syed Farook, had any organizational links to the Islamic State or other jihadist groups.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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8 Comments

  • Kate says:

    Is it possible that Daesh chose words that will help it achieve its objective for different target audiences? It is well known that Daesh is trying to recruit people from the west. Therefore, it’s English message makes it sound like they are part of the team. On the other hand, that group doesn’t want women doing the actual fighting within its own territory, so it’s choice of Arabic wording may reflect its desire for women to stay at home (or work as doctors caring for the fighters) within the territory it controls…

  • martin says:

    the only way to control these attacks is to monitor mosques muslim immigration has to stop otherwise it will get worse

    • Arjuna says:

      Farook’s mosque, San Bernardino’s Deobandi movement-affiliated Dar-al-Uloom al-Islamia, needs more than monitoring. Close it. They are already here.

  • kMikeB says:

    Do you believe that Farook who placed a singles ad was trolled? By that I mean the lure was the woman, who by accounts was already radicalized before the marriage. With the marriage she was able to gain entry to the US relatively easier than someone seeking entry to the US in some other fashion. And after she conditioned Farook it was just a matter of time to wait for an opportunity to strike.

    • Arjuna says:

      Good points. They were both dirty pre-marriage and pre-IS (2014). He met his fellow jihad sympathizers at the Cali mosque. His dad is dirty. But he had to look abroad for something that ugly. Supposedly he was gonna blow in 2012 and our heat spooked him. She just helped buck him up and lead him to the Hell where all suicidal, “devout” Muslim terrorists go.

  • James says:

    The questions we need to ask of the current Administration in power is 1.) How did this woman manage to get into this country in the first place? We know now that she listed a hometown in Pakistan that doesn’t even exist. We know now that she came from an area in Pakistan known to be a haven for jihadists. There are probably a whole lot more good questions that need to be asked.

    The current administration has the gall to make utterly false allegations of racism when those candidates from the other party question its vetting process for many of these [so-called] ‘refugees’ from those same areas.

    We must demand a full investigation into this.

    This may very well make Benghazi look like a picnic.

    Why don’t those people fight for their own country? The Kurds don’t run. The Yazidis don’t run.

    Had they left just a minimal number of troops over there and gotten rid of a$$ad in a timely manner, there wouldn’t even be a refugee crisis over there. Who’s fault is that? The fact of the matter is there was no ‘ISIS’ under the previous administration. So they can stop trying to blame everything on the previous administration.

    If someone would have mentioned ‘ISIS’ to me when the previous administration was in power, I most likely would have said: “What that? A new drink at Starbucks!”

  • Ken North says:

    Without regard to the scope or efficacy of the current Federal inquiry, and recognizing that is is assuredly more encompassing than any public acknowledgements, the only prudent policy course is to assume that these attacks had an associated support cell providing financing, logistics, training, target selection and reconnaissance, and overall guidance. That premise is not politically palatable at this juncture, but it is a lodestar going forward.
    Those unknown subjects have had ample opportunity to slide across the border into Mexico or otherwise covertly go to ground. Additionally, if in fact such a cell exists, a pledge of Bayat to the Islamic State may well have been disinformation to mislead the follow-on investigation.
    At this juncture, it could conceivably serve al Qaeda’s overall strategic interests to take credit later on if the cell remnants reemerge with an ensuing series of attacks at the sites this crew failed to assault. Given the fact that they practiced exemplary operational security, the primary reason to do that is to protect the remaining crew members from interception prior to their subsequent attacks.
    In any event, we would do well to start granting our adversaries more credit than we have been previously inclined, and to relearn the hard lessons of OPSEC from Viet Nam. That enables us to “know far more about them while they know far less about us”.

  • Arjuna says:

    Creepy chick. looks like a dude. She reminds me of Faisal Shahzad. Same high society Paki roots. Runs with the generals, dies with the terrorists. Long live the Purists, not. He was more AQ, she was more IS, but they still went out with an Allah Akbar bang! Thank God for the sprinkler system or it might have been worse. Still want those women and children refugees hahaha. Remember they were all gonna die with their kiddies in the big Pakistani/UK planes plot. Their hate is stronger than a mother’s love. I’d cry if I wasn’t so mad. Of course the family knew. Stop giving their lawyers airtime!

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