NY Attack Confirms ISIS Still ‘Losers’

Akayed Ullah, the Port Authority terrorist after his bomb detonated too early
Akayed Ullah, the Port Authority terrorist after his bomb detonated too early (Photo: Twitter)

A Bangladeshi terrorist inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) detonated a bomb, presumably prematurely, by the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City yesterday.

But, make no mistake about it: He’s a loser. ISIS is still a bunch of losers. And if ISIS interprets victory as a sign of Allah’s endorsement, then they should be saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag right about now.

Yet, every terrorist attack—including one with a faulty device and likely premature explosion—is somewhat of a success for ISIS and like-minded jihadists because of how the media covers the drama. The media could contribute to the defeat of ISIS by providing the broader context, which would be a fair and accurate way of denying ISIS an ideological victory.

For example, the fact that ISIS has lost 96 percent of its caliphate (a collapse accelerated this year after former General James Mattis took over as secretary of defense). They failed to trigger Armageddon or put up a prophecy-fulfilling fight at Dabiq (instead fleeing into the shadows). The same occurred in Mosul, and Raqqa and Al-Qaim.

Coverage of the Port Authority explosion should include the map below:

ISIS territory marked in gray.
ISIS territory marked in gray.

Consider the standard for success here: The U.S. had to defeat a caliphate and handle an unprecedented spike in ISIS-inspired jihad, whereas ISIS appears victorious when a single jihadist carries out a single surprise attack on unarmed American or European civilians somewhere at some-time. The standard is lopsided in ISIS’ failure — and ISIS still is failing miserably.

The New York terrorist, Akayed Ullah, read Al-Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine and failed to construct a working device. The bomb most likely detonated prematurely and he’s probably trying to cover up his embarrassment by telling police that he purposely set it off then because he saw a Christmas poster in the corridor.

Ullah killed no one, not even himself, in a target-rich environment. He couldn’t even accomplish suicide with a pipe bomb. Instead of being a “martyr,” he was curled up in the fetal position, coping with damage to his stomach that probably included burning his crotch. He’ll spend a ton of time in prison as the unpopular inmate and one of the least-remembered aspiring ISIS terrorists.

One viral tweet contrasted the reaction of the nationwide media to the average, tough-as-nails, busy-bee New Yorker:

This is not to deny that the Islamist threat is real. Very real. But we can remain vigilant while mocking our enemies.

Akayed Ullah is a loser. So is the terrorist group he pledged allegiance to. The media should say that because such words can help stop the next attack and continue the losers’ losing streak.

 

 

 

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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.