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.
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