How ISIS Has Changed Christmas

ISIS issues a threat against Times Square at Christmastime
ISIS issues a threat against Times Square at Christmastime. (Photo: SITE Intelligence Group)

ISIS threatened to attack Times Square during the Christmas season. The above image of Santa Claus perched on a roof next overlooking the iconic New York City tourist spot next to a box of dynamite was accompanied by the words, “We meet at Christmas in New York…soon.” The image was sent out through encrypted messaging apps.

The terror group also threatened to attack European cities during the Christmas season, circulating the following image with writing in English, French and German saying, “Soon on your holidays.”

ISIS threatens European Christmas markets
ISIS threatens European Christmas markets.

In response, Christmas markets in the UK will be decked out with high security measures. Rings made of steel will surround the markets and shoppers will only be allowed to enter through metal detectors. Officers on the ground

Security barriers in the UK made to look like Christmas trees on top of gift packages.
Security barriers in the UK made to look like Christmas trees on top of gift packages. (Photo: Katie Pugh)

will stop and search as necessary and concrete barriers – some made to look like Christmas trees – will be de rigueur.

Last year counter-terrorism forces stopped attempted bombings on Christmas events in Britain and Belgium.

Germany is securing its Christmas markets in an effort to avoid an attack like last years truck ramming of a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people and injured 56.

Concrete barriers wrapped up as giant gift packages will be a feature of the country’s Christmas markets as well as 1.2 ton pellet bags similarly wrapped.

Already in Germany, six Syrian men suspected to be affiliated with ISIS, were arrested earlier this month after authorities said they had evidence that the men were planning coordinated attacks on the anniversary of the Berlin attack, December 19.

Authorities say the attacks were to be carried out with “weapons and explosives” and their target may have been a Christmas market in Essen in northwestern Germany.

Concrete barriers in Germany made to look like holiday gifts.
Concrete barriers in Germany made to look like holiday gifts. (Photo; Video screenshot)

The arrests were made during raids by 500 security officers in Kassel, Hannover, Essen and Leipzig.

For its part, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert to all U.S. citizens warning of the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks” in Europe during the holiday season.

The blanket warning covered all of Europe and noted “widely-reported incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe.”

The warning referred to mass casualty attacks that were carried out last year at a the Christmas market in Berlin and at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve. The warning covered all locations from hotels, restaurants and clubs to airports, places of worship and government and educational institutions, saying: “Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.”

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