Assailants in Tajikistan swore allegiance to Baghdadi before attack

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has released a short video purportedly showing the team of five jihadists who assaulted cyclists in Tajikistan’s Danghara district on July 29. A screen shot from the video can be seen above.

FDD’s Long War Journal cannot immediately verify that the young men, or adolescents, were responsible for the attack. However, Amaq’s video is similar to the footage released by the so-called caliphate after small-scale operations in the past.

According to the US Embassy in Tajikistan, the assailants “hit seven foreign cyclists with their vehicle, exited the car, and stabbed the cyclists with knives.” Four people, including two Americans, were killed. The other two victims have been identified as Swiss and Dutch nationals.

This same crude tactic has been employed in previous attacks claimed by the Islamic State. For example, in Nov. 2016, Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove a car into pedestrians at Ohio State University before jumping out and wielding a blade. US authorities subsequently revealed that Artan had been, at a minimum, inspired by a pro-Islamic State cleric.

In Mar. 2017, Khalid Masood drove his vehicle into pedestrians near the British parliament, then exited the driver’s seat to stab and slash others.

In June 2017, three terrorists rammed their vehicle into pedestrians on London Bridge and then used knives or other short blades to assault diners at the nearby Borough Market. One of the attackers, Khuram Shazad Butt, was previously associated with Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist organization in the UK that endorsed Baghdadi’s self-declared caliphate.

In each of the three cases described above, as well as numerous others, Amaq claimed that the terrorists had acted in response to the Islamic State’s calls to target citizens of the nations participating in the anti-ISIS coalition. The group’s spokesmen have repeatedly called for such attacks in the West.

Amaq released a similar statement after the cyclists were assaulted in Tajikistan’s Danghara district.

Amaq’s newly-released video is evidence that the terrorists in Danghara were known to the Islamic State before they struck.

After denouncing the government of Tajikistan, the five join hands and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This same ritual has been carried out multiple times since mid-2016, when Amaq first began releasing pre-recorded videos of terrorists pledging their fealty to Baghdadi.

Similar videos of terrorists swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The videos listed below featured jihadists who recorded their bayat (oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi prior to their attacks. The clips were then released online by the Islamic State’s propaganda arms, either via Amaq News Agency or Furat Media.

The list presented here is an updated version of an analysis previously published by FDD’s Long War Journal.

On July 18, 2016, an Afghan teenage refugee bordered a train in the German city of Würzburg and hacked at passengers. The teenager, identified as Muhammad Riyad, brandished a knife in an Amaq video as he swore his loyalty to Baghdadi. (The Grozny attacker repeated this scene.)

On July 24, 2016, a veteran jihadist from Syria blew himself up, perhaps accidentally, outside of a music festival in Ansbach, Germany. More than a dozen people were injured. The bomber, identified as Mohammad Daleel, rehearsed the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi in an Amaq video released online two days after his attack.

On July 26, 2016, a pair of jihadists assaulted a church during morning mass in Normandy, France, killing an elderly priest and taking several people hostage before being gunned down by police. Amaq’s video showed the two performing the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi shortly before carrying out the murder.

On Aug. 17, 2016, two young jihadists, identified as Uthman Mardalov and Salim Israilov, assaulted Russian policemen in Balashikha, which is east of Moscow. The pair swore allegiance to Baghdadi in footage that was disseminated by Amaq.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Anis Amri, a Tunisian man, drove a large lorry into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve people were killed in his vehicular assault. Days later, Amri was subsequently killed during a shootout with Italian police in Milan. Amaq released a video of Amri swearing allegiance to Baghdadi, and US officials discovered that he had ties to Islamic State operatives in Italy.

On Aug. 19, 2017, a young man went on a stabbing rampage in the Russian city of Surgat, wounding eight people. The terrorist was shot and killed by authorities. Two days later, on Aug. 21, Furat media (another Islamic State propaganda arm) released a short video featuring the jihadist responsible for the Surgat assault. The masked man, identified as Masa’ud al-Surghuti, swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, whom he addressed as the “Emir of the Believers” and the caliph. Al-Surghuti called upon supporters to lash out with the simplest weapons they can find, including household tools.

On Mar. 20, a lone assailant stabbed and slashed at police in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Shortly afterwards, Amaq News released a video of the Baghdadi loyalist brandishing a knife as he sat in front of a small Islamic State flag on the wall behind him. He addressed the “brothers” who are on “social networks” and implored them to lash out. He told fellow believers that they should kidnap or kill “all apostates” wherever they may live.

Then, on May 12, a young man named Khamzat Azimov, who was born in Chechnya, knifed several people near an opera house in Paris. One person was killed and several others wounded before Azimov was shot and killed by police. Amaq again quickly claimed responsibility for the stabbings, employing the same language used in previous statements by stating that he “carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.” The following day, May 13, Amaq released a video purportedly showing the Paris terrorist swearing allegiance to Baghdadi. The masked man is presumably Azimov.

Screen shots from Amaq’s videos of the Würzburg, Ansbach, Normandy, Balashikha, Berlin, Surgat, Grozny and Paris terrorists swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi:

16-07-19 Muhammad Riyad

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 12.57.52 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 2.16.06 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 6.51.09 PM

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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