Attacks in France and Germany claimed by Islamic State propaganda arm

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed responsibility for two attacks in Europe. The first was a suicide bombing in Ansbach, Germany on July 24. More than one dozen people were injured, some of them seriously, when a bomber self-detonated outside of a music festival.

The second assault was carried out earlier today during the morning mass at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, which is in northern France. Initial reports say that an elderly priest was killed by a pair of terrorists, who took several people hostage before being shot to death by police.

In both instances, Amaq News cited an “insider source” as saying that “soldiers” of the Islamic State were responsible. The language in both claims of responsibility is similar to past statements.

The “individual who carried out the martyrdom operation in Ansbach, Germany was a soldier of the Islamic State who executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State,” a July 25 statement from Amaq read.

“The 2 executors of the attack on a church in Normandy, France were soldiers of the Islamic State,” Amaq said in a “Breaking News” update earlier today. “They executed the operation in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

Counterterrorism and intelligence officials in Europe are investigating any possible ties between the self-proclaimed jihadists and the Islamic State’s international network. It is too early to tell if they acted on their own accord, or had help from the so-called caliphate’s external operations arm, which has been plotting terrorist operations inside Europe.

German authorities have reportedly identified the Ansbach terrorist as a 27 year-old Syrian who had been denied asylum, according to BBC News and other media outlets.

Video purportedly shows Ansbach bomber

Amaq has released a video purportedly showing the Ansbach bomber, suggesting that he had at least one tie to the Islamic State, even if it was only a digital one. Either he, or someone he knew, sent the video to the jihadist media outfit. Amaq says his name was “Mohammad Daleel.”

A screen shot of “Mohammad Daleel” from the footage can be seen below. Separately, Amaq also released a photo of the man identified as Daleel. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify his identity, or his role as the Ansbach bomber.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 12.57.52 PM

“I renew my pledge of allegiance to Emir ul-Mu’minin [“Emir of the Faithful”] Abu Bakr al Baghdadi…may Allah protect him,” the man identified as Daleel said in the clip.

Daleel, whose face is covered, claimed that his attack is revenge for Germany’s role in the international anti-Islamic State coalition. He claimed that Germany’s bombs do not discriminate between men, women and children. And he called on his “brothers,” who are also “soldiers of the Islamic State,” to strike in Europe.

The video of Daleel is similar to two other productions disseminated by Amaq after recent attacks.

Last week, Amaq identified the teenager who slashed and hacked multiple people on a train in Würzburg, Germany as “Muhammad Riyad.” The young man recorded a video of himself that either he, or someone he knew, delivered into Amaq’s hands. As with Daleel, this suggests there was at least a digital tie between Riyad and the Islamic State’s network. [See LWJ report, Teenager who terrorized German train appears in Islamic State video.]

Prior to his assault on the train, Riyad delivered a speech while brandishing a knife. He called on all Muslims to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi, saying that the Caliphate has been resurrected in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Riyad added that Muslims should join one of the Islamic State’s so-called provinces around the world, including in Libya, if they cannot reach the “caliphate” in Iraq or Syria.

In mid-June, Amaq promoted a similar video from another Islamic State loyalist, Larossi Abballa. The video was recorded at the scene of a brutal double murder in Magnanville, France, which is less than 40 miles north of Paris. Abballa stabbed a police officer and his partner to death, recounting the horror show for the Islamic State’s audience and the rest of the world. The couple’s son was rescued when French forces stormed the home.

Amaq has repeatedly described terrorists as “soldiers” of the Islamic State

The wording of Amaq’s claims of responsibility for the Ansbach and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attacks mirrors past statements by the Islamic State’s propaganda arms. Amaq and other outlets frequently describe the terrorists who carry out such deeds in the Islamic State’s name as the caliphate’s “soldiers.”

For example, the Islamic State described the May 2015 shooters in Garland, Tex. and the couple who assaulted a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. in Dec. 2015 as the group’s “soldiers.” The San Bernardino terrorists were also labeled “supporters.”

The team of jihadists responsible for the Nov. 2015 assault in Paris was hailed as “a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.”

Omar Mateen, who repeatedly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi the night of his shooting at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June, was described as a “fighter” for the organization.

Amaq said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France earlier this month, was “a soldier of the Islamic State.” The same wording was used for the Würzburg slasher.

After the Nice, Würzburg, Ansbach and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attacks, Amaq also emphasized that the men responsible had acted “in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

The Islamic State has repeatedly called on its members and supporters to strike the coalition of nations targeting its territory in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

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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