ISIS Claims Vegas: At What Price?

A soldier on guard after the Las Vegas attack. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A soldier on guard after the Las Vegas attack. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Islamic State (ISIS) is “quadrupling down” on its claim of responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre by Stephen Paddock, claiming he converted to Islam months ago. There is no evidence to substantiate their claim at this point and, if ISIS is lying, then at least something good can come from this horrible atrocity by using the lie to blast away at ISIS’ credibility.

Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times correspondent covering ISIS, tracked how ISIS reiterated its claims of responsibility with at least two comments on its Amaq News Agency propaganda outlet. It started referring to him as “Abu Abd El Bar.”

As skepticism of a jihadist motivation grew, ISIS also claimed credit on its Nashir channel on the encrypted Telegram messaging app. It then released a video based on the Vegas massacre on its Al-Battar Media. Callimachi said that ISIS only follows this pattern for its biggest attacks.

If Stephen Paddock is not a recent ISIS-inspired convert—and there isn’t a shred of evidence that he is except for the fact that he shared their desire for massive civilian casualties—then the U.S. has an opportunity.

ISIS thrives off of its followers’ illusions about the success of its caliphate, the evil of its enemies and the Sharia Disney Land its members supposedly enjoy. Accurate reports about disappointed defectors, abuse and failure are dismissed as lies from the Satanic Jews and infidels. It comes down to trust.

Dispelling these illusions requires irrefutable moments that prove ISIS’ defeats, failures and lies to the world and especially its own followers. This is one such rare moment.

Contrary to the myth that ISIS claims credit for anything and everything that causes non-Muslim casualties, ISIS’ claims of responsibility are almost always accurate with two exceptions: An attack in Manila, Philippines that was actually an attempted robbery and it falsely claimed to have planted bombs at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris last month.

To an indoctrinated follower, they may still believe ISIS was behind the Manila attack or dismiss it as an error on ISIS’ part, rather than a lie. The second example can be rationalized as an economic attack in the form of a deliberate lie.

The claim of responsibility for the Vegas attack is very different.

ISIS is putting its credibility on the line. Perhaps it heard of the attack and, based on its style and location, was convinced it was an ISIS supporter and decided to just claim credit. But now ISIS is just plain lying. Over and over.

And it will impact the confidence of those who trust ISIS and other jihadist groups. Don’t take our word for it. Look at the private encrypted conversation between ISIS supporters here:

Private encrypted conversation between ISIS supporters questioning ISIS' claim that it was behind the attack in Las Vegas
Private encrypted conversation between ISIS supporters questioning ISIS’ claim that it was behind the attack in Las Vegas (Photo: Twitter)

And it shows desperation—a desperate bid to claim victory somewhere as it is on the verge of losing Raqqa, after already losing Dabiq, Mosul and the majority of its caliphate.

This misstep by ISIS shows them for what they are: Deceivers and, as President Trump calls them, “losers.”

Let us cope with our grief by maximizing ISIS’ grief and have something good come out of this.

ISIS screwed up big time. Let’s exploit it.

 

 

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Ryan Mauro
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.