OTTAWA – The Islamic extremist group that has occupied parts of Iraq and Syria has issued a new threat against western countries including Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
In an audio recording distributed on social media, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant urges supporters to kill westerners from countries who have joined efforts in northern Iraq, whether military or civilian.
The Canadian government has not said whether it views the recording as authentic, but France appears to be treating it as such, as is SITE, a Washington think-tank that analyzes terrorist groups.
The group represents a threat not just to the Middle East, but the world, said Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office.
“We will continue to work with allies to push back against this threat,” MacDonald said in an email.
“Like our allies we will not be cowed by threats while innocent children, women, men and religious minorities live in fear of these terrorists.”
The Harper government has taken a hard line on ISIL. Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird likened the fight against the al-Qaida splinter group to the struggles against communism and fascism.
Canada is also sending 69 special forces personnel who will serve as advisers to Iraqi forces battling ISIL militants.
Responding to al-Adnani’s statement, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he is confident in the country’s security.
“France is not afraid because it is prepared to respond to their threats,” he said.
The ISIL statement was released in Arabic by the group’s media arm, Al-Furqan, and appeared on militant sites used by the group. The Associated Press reported the speaker sounded like that of previous recordings attributed to al-Adnani.
The 42-minute audio statement was released online late Sunday. In it, al-Adnani said the coalition would not be able to defeat the jihadis. He called on Muslims everywhere to kill anyone whose country takes part in the attack.
“Oh, believer, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons and troops of the tyrants. Strike their police, security and intelligence members,” al-Adnani said.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”
A transcript, distributed on social media late Sunday night, also seemed to accuse countries like Canada and Australia of meddling in affairs that are none of their business.
“What threat do you pose to the distant place of Australia for it to send its legions towards you? What does Canada have anything to do with you?”
A Public Safety Canada report last month said some 130 individuals were suspected of terror-related activities abroad at the beginning of 2014, including about 30 people with Canadian connections suspected of terror activities in Syria.
The Canadian government has said it has begun revoking the passports of those it suspects of wanting to go abroad to join terrorist groups.
ISIL’s reach on social media also makes them a potential threat on Canadian soil, suggested Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former Canadian intelligence officer who now heads up an Ottawa cybersecurity company.
“They have been capable (of recruiting) young people without speaking directly to them face to face,” he noted.
“If they’ve been capable through the media — through the Internet — to reach them, I wouldn’t be surprised that they convince some of these people that instead of travelling to the Middle East, to stay here and simply attack us here.”