Attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait part of ISIS call for Ramadan jihad

by Julia A. Seymour
Posted 6/29/15, 09:10 am

Just days after ISIS extremists called for a month of jihad to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, bombers claiming to be affiliated with the group killed 25 people in a Kuwait mosque bombing.

ISIS also took credit for the gunman who killed 38 people at a Tunisian beach resort on June 26, according to The Daily Mail. U.S. officials told CNN the terror group may have inspired the attack without directing it. On the same day, a man in France attacked a U.S.-owned factory and beheaded his boss. Police detained the suspect and The Telegraph reported investigators found Arabic writing and Islamist flags at the scene.

Ramadan lasts from June 17 to July 17. Reuters reported ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani released a June 23  statement congratulating all Muslims on the arrival of “the holy month.”

"Be keen to conquer in this holy month and to become exposed to martyrdom," he told followers.

He especially appealed to Iraqi Sunnis and threatened President Barack Obama and the United States with retaliation.

Al-Adnani called for it to become a time of “calamity for the infidels.” The list of targets included Shiite Muslims, “apostate” Muslims, and Christians. The attack in Kuwait wounded 202. The month of Ramadan is traditionally a time of prayer, fasting, and greater devotion to Allah for Muslims.

“There is an idea that things during Ramadan are more valuable,” said Todd Daniels, Middle East regional manager for International Christian Concern.

Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation, gave the BBC two reasons for the timing. First, ISIS is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its “so-called caliphate,” officially established on June 29, 2014.

The second, he explained, is a change of thinking about the purpose of Ramadan.

“Jihadists for a long time haven’t seen the month of Ramadan as a month of fasting, as a month of abstention, as a month of reflection and prayer," Nawaz said. “Instead they’ve interpreted it to be a month of war. A month of jihad.”

According to Nigerian news outlet Vanguard, another Islamic extremist group, Al-Shabaab, threatened to attack Kenya during Ramadan.

For Christians who live in Muslim countries, Ramadan is always a time for caution, noted Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs.

“It is a time where spirits are high in the Muslim world,” he said. “So it has always been a time when Christians have a heightened awareness of their security and the risks that they face living in a Muslim society.”

In areas they control, ISIS has harshly enforced Ramadan fasting. In Iraq, militants publicly flogged two men accused of privately breaking the fast, The Daily Mail reported. In al-Mayadin, Syria, two boys accused of breaking the fast “with no religious justification” were hung from their wrists on crossbars in a style of crucifixion, according to he Jerusalem Post.

Julia A. Seymour

Julia has worked as a writer in the Washington, D.C., area since 2005 and was a fall 2012 participant in a World Journalism Institute mid-career class conducted by WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky in Asheville, N.C. Follow Julia on Twitter @SteakandaBible.

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