Despite its imminent defeat in the lands that once were called its caliphate, ISIS responded to the New Zealand mosque massacre, showing that the group still has the ability to rear its head.
A gunman identified as white supremacist 28-year old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, an Australian, was arrested for killing 50 people as they prayed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15. Tarrant live-streamed the attack as he gunned down the worshipers.
ISIS spokesman, Abu Hassan Al Muhajir, who had not been heard from for six months and was rumored to be dead, released a 44-minute audio message threatening retaliation, calling for vengeance and mocking U.S. efforts to defeat the group.
“The scenes of death in the two mosques are enough to wake the sleep and incite the supporters of the caliphate who live there, to take vengeance for their religion and for sons of their Ummah, who are killed everywhere in the world,” he said.
Al-Muhajir also said that the U.S., which has all but claimed victory over ISIS, is in a “state of confusion and contradiction that make it impossible for any observer to know what is meant by the word ‘victory.’”
The audio was released on Al Furqan, an ISIS-linked media organization.
Al-Muhajir (not his real name) also made reference to the group’s leader, self-declared “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, referring to him in the present tense, stating that he is indeed alive and giving over advice from him to jihadis to avoid detection and arrest.
“A message of advice from the caliph of the believers regarding communication devices: Be careful, careful of communication devices — even if it slows down work from two days to seven days,” he warned.
U.S. coalition-backed forces in Syria said that “very soon” they would complete the takeover of all the territory in Syria previously held by the terror group.
In the last pockets held by ISIS, the militants are said to be using their own children as human shields.
Close to 60,000 people have left the last area under ISIS control in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province in the last two months. Half of them are estimated to be supporters of the terror group, including 5,000 fighters.
“Do you think the displacement of the weak and poor out of Baghouz will weaken the Islamic State? No,” Al-Muhajir asked on the tape.
His sentiment was confirmed by security officials who say that even after all ISIS territory is recaptured, the group will remain a regional and global threat.
Security officials are also concerned about the cycle of violence the attack in New Zealand could set off, as Clarion’s prescient video by Ryan Mauro warned: