- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stark evidence that the Islamic State now has the organizational power to conceive plots in a wide range of locations is seen in a stream of videos featuring armed jihadi leaders vowing more attacks outside Iraq and Syria.

The Islamic State fighters from different geographic areas say they have the ability to strike the West on their own, as they rejoice in the killing of 129 innocents in Paris on Friday.

Robert Maginnis, author of “Never Submit,” a book on radical Islam, said the spreading of autonomous cells and leaders across different continents makes it difficult for the U.S. to kill the sheikhs and intercept communications.

The Paris attacks were executed by eight terrorists, supported by as many as 12 others and plotted in France, Belgium, Germany and Raqqa, Syria — the Islamic State’s declared capital.

Instead of centralized planning in Raqqa, which drove the Paris attacks, conspirators in Iraq, Europe or North Africa could be plotting an attack on the U.S.

“The decentralized chain of command with operational planning delegated to midlevel is likely,” Mr. Maginnis said. “That means orders will likely go to sleeper cells and operatives triggered in a decentralized fashion. Those orders could come from midlevel commanders across the ISIS world, which includes more than just that swath of land in Iraq and Syria.”

The Islamic State is also known as ISIL and ISIS.

The Sunni Muslim terrorist group has shown in recent weeks that it can insert three suicide bombers into a Shiite market near Beirut, bring down a Russian airliner over the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and carry out the horrific, coordinated attacks in Paris.

The wake-up call is the fact that the 30,000-strong Islamic State is far larger than al Qaeda and much better at finding and deploying terrorists willing to kill others and themselves in the process. It took al Qaeda years to organize the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Islamic State has proved itself more nimble, having planned the Paris barrage and Russian bombing in a matter of months.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) focuses on capturing, translating and analyzing social media through which Islamic terrorist groups communicate and send out propaganda.

A number of Islamic State leaders popped up in the days after Nov. 13.

Three leaders in Islamic State-controlled Salah al-Din province in Iraq, north of Baghdad, made a video promising to attack the West. They claimed they have stockpiled weapons all over France.

“You are those that started, and now it is time for revenge,” said the first jihadi, according to a MEMRI translation. “I swear that we will take vengeance for the religion of Allah the almighty and for the prophet, peace be upon him. I swear we will avenge the blood of the Muslims.”

A second fighter, rifle in hand, threatens the U.S. directly:

“We tell countries participating in the crusader campaign: We swear that you will experience a similar day to the one that France experiences. Since if we have struck France in its heart — in Paris — then we swear that we will strike America at its heart — in Washington — and with Allah’s help, we will conquer Rome as well.”

Farther north, Islamic State leaders of Iraq’s Kirkuk province also issued threats: “We tell the slaves of the cross, particularly France, that by Allah, you will not enjoy life so long as your jets circle over the lands of the Muslims. Expect the worst. This was only a small part of our response, Allah willing.”

‘They’re now the game in town’

In Europe an Islamic State-linked operation in Bosnia called the News of the Ummah [nation] also promised attacks: “You will never be safe. Not even in your own fortresses, you dirty [infidels]. Alhamdulillah [praise Allah] for this new big massacre. More to come. Stay tuned.”

The Bosnian pack Photoshopped an image of French President Francois Hollande kneeling among jihadis, about to be beheaded.

“They are killing every day dozens of civilians, innocent people, whose only wish is to live in their land, practice their faith and raise their children according to Islam, and not according to the way that United States, France, Russia and others want them to do,” the group says. “Know, as you kill, you will be killed, and what follows is even worse and more bitter. You will have no peace anywhere, we swear by him who has raised the heavens without pillars, even in your strongholds or anywhere else.”

A retired CIA officer still involved in the war on terrorism said the Islamic State is quickly branching out and granting decision-making power outside Raqqa.

“The franchisees have the option to launch attacks on their own,” the ex-officer said. “This tumor has metastasized. Obama had the chance to cut it out when it was confined to a small area of Syria but blew it.”

The newest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language online magazine, devotes a long story to recent terrorist attacks carried out in multiple locations. It calls them “military operations.”

The Lebanon assault began with an explosive-laden motorbike detonated in a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

When a crowd gathered, a suicide killer detonated his bomb belt. More than 40 people were slain.

Dabiq, complete with color photos, described the Paris attack in part:

“The operation involved multiple simultaneous attacks with explosive belts and assault rifles on various targets including the Stade de France stadium, where the crusader president Francois Hollande was attending a soccer match, and the Bataclan theater for exhibitions, where hundreds of French mushrikin [believers in other gods] had gathered for a music concert. The attacks, which included other targets around Paris and succeeded in killing hundreds of crusaders and wounding even more, shook the world and reminded the nations of [infidels] that the Islamic State will continue to stand firm in the face of their transgressions and retaliate with fire and bloodshed in revenge for the honor of the prophet and the multitudes killed and injured in crusader airstrikes in the lands of the Muslims.”

The terrorists’ online magazine, which is named for a city in northern Syria, also published Wednesday a photo of what it said was the bomb that downed the Russian jetliner last month, killing all 224 people on board. The photo — which showed a Schweppes soda can, and what looked like a detonator and a switch — was circulated by various Islamic State-affiliated Twitter accounts.

Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the Islamic State has opened a new chapter.

“They’re doing things we only thought al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were capable of doing,” Mr. McCaul told CNN, referring to the group whose main goal is to attack the U.S. homeland. “They’re now the game in town. And I can’t tell you how high the threat level really is.”

In another sign of the Islamic State’s broadening appeal, MEMRI showed photos of the terrorist group’s supporters in Tripoli, Libya, and in Gaza, handing out candy to smiling passers-by to celebrate the Nov. 13 Paris killings.

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