Islamic State supporters are using social media to distribute threats of Christmas attacks against Washington, D.C., New York City and Berlin, according to published reports.
What threats were made?
The recent threats came in the form of propaganda posters, Newsweek reported.
One poster by Islamic State supporters showed flames photoshopped over the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. A jihadi dressed in camouflage is wielding a rifle in front of the Gothic church.
Although the church is in Washington, the caption stated, “We meet at Christmas in New York soon."
The SITE intelligence group reported that the poster was placed on an encrypted app, Telegram, a pro-ISIS channel, according to Newsweek. The intelligence group monitors extremists online.
Telegram was used to distribute another poster that showed a terrorist aiming a gun at a crowd at a concert, Newsweek reported. A caption in English and Arabic said: "See you soon on your holidays."
Another poster leveled a threat against Berlin. The poster showed a masked jihadi with a rifle standing before the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin and featured a crowd standing in the background with the caption "Berlin will burn."
How many attacks have recently been made against NYC?
Monday marked the third attack on New York City since September 2016, the New York Times reported.
Akayed Ullah, 27, is accused of attempting to detonate a pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in one of the busiest subway corridors in Manhattan, according to the Times.
The bomb failed to fully detonate, sending “thousands of terrified commuters fleeing the smoke-choked passageways, and bringing the heart of Midtown to a standstill as hundreds of police officers converged on Times Square and the surrounding streets,” the Times reported.
Ullah reportedly told police he chose the location because it had Christmas-themed posters, and he was “retaliating for U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.”
Should threats on social media be taken seriously?
Many Islamic State attacks are not large military operations but are attacks plotted by individuals, reports state. Still, the lone wolf terrorists can represent a serious threat.
Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center, told Newsweek: “ISIS is incentivized to make threats like this, which come at no cost to them. ISIS is not dispatching fighters around the world for complex coordinated terrorist attacks, but has largely relied upon individuals and citizens already living in Europe and the United States to commit unsophisticated attacks."