The Islamic State has allegedly published a secret list in Arabic of thousands of churches in all 50 states and called on its followers to attack them during the holidays.
ISIS, according to a report by Vocativ.com, posted the list late Wednesday night in the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media group using the encrypted app Telegram.
WND asked several Arab speakers to search for the list and after an exhaustive search online they came up empty, leading some question whether such a list even exists. If it does, it is well hidden within the encrypted app.
A user going by the name of “Abu Marya al-Iraqi” posted an Arabic-language message calling “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie,” Vocative reported.
The names and addresses, distributed in a number of posts, were all previously available online and include a public directory of churches across all 50 states.
‘Sons of Islam’ exhorted to attack large gatherings
In another group post, a member summoned “the sons of Islam” to target “churches, well-known hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places,” and shared a list of addresses in the United States, as well as in Canada, France and the Netherlands.
Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Last month, the St. Peter and St. Paul chapel of the Coptic Christian Church in Cairo, Egypt, was bombed by Muslims, killing 25 Copts and injuring several more.
In July, an elderly Catholic priest had his throat slit on the altar while he was saying mass in Normandy, France. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack by two of its “soldiers.”
Then on Monday, a Christmas market was targeted by a Muslim jihadist from Tunisia who stole a truck and rammed it into the crowded market. Christmas, as a Christian holiday, is a symbol of Europe’s and America’s Christian identity, regardless of whether many Christians in these countries still take their faith seriously, terrorism experts say.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Christmas market attack in Berlin that killed 12 and injured 48, while the suspected jihadist, a Muslim migrant who entered Europe from Tunisia, is still on the loose.
Surveillance of churches reported
Former FBI counter-terrorism agent John Guandolo’s Understanding the Threat blog has received reports in the last several weeks from law enforcement, pastors and citizens that Muslims are conducting pre-operation surveillance inside U.S. churches during services.
The information received by UTT from multiple states indicates the manner of the surveillance is similar in each case.
Guandolo says two Muslim males will enter during the service and sit together in the back of the church. They will often take pictures and record video. When approached by concerned ushers, they will either tell their questioners they are “interested” in becoming Christians or they will run.
“This information has been passed to the appropriate law enforcement officials, and UTT is aware of a joint investigation between local police and the FBI in at least one of the cases,” according to Guandolo.
One planned attack already foiled
In February, the FBI interrupted a plot to pull off a mass shooting at one of Detroit’s largest Catholic churches in a case reported by WND involving a Muslim convert, Sebastian Gregerson, who had amassed an arsenal of military-grade weapons including AK-47s, a howitzer and tactical knives similar to those used by ISIS. Gregerson, who changed his name to Abu-Rayyan, reportedly received money to acquire the weapons from an imam in Maryland. Court documents showed the FBI was concerned that imams could be financing similar plots around the country.
Dr. Mark Christian, a former Muslim imam from Egypt and expert on the Muslim Brotherhood, said churches need to take precautions.
Big churches will be seen as the most prime targets, he said, as ISIS will be looking for the highest number of casualties they can inflict.
“To be honest, in every place where there are public gatherings, there are metal detectors at the front, and I hate to say it but I feel it is time for movie theaters and churches too, they need to have that, to detect guns and knives and explosives … I think it’s time to do it,” said Dr. Christian, who changed his name from Muhammad Abdullah and converted to Christianity in 2005.
“It’s going to be very expensive for a smaller church, so you have to have volunteers in those churches,” he said, adding that these volunteers should be proficient in defensive actions up to and including handgun usage.
“Metal detectors are not expensive for larger congregations, and they are a must at this time, along with trained volunteers” he said. “You are talking about a couple of grand for a metal detector, but they will save lives.
“We live in a time where, even if you are going Christmas shopping, you need to pack heat when you go. This is not the way you should have to live,” he added. “But we have awakened the giant. We give them the space to run and to expand, so I hate to say it but this is the beginning of this kind of threat.”
The invasion of Iraq and Obama promoting radical Sunni religious regimes in Syria, Egypt and Libya have helped to awaken the sleeping giant, but Christian says that’s not the only problem. After all, America was attacked on 9/11 even before the invasion of Iraq.
The biggest problem is the Islamic texts and Muslims who are taught to emulate their seventh-century prophet, Muhammad, a warlord who is seen as the “perfect man.” He advocated taking slaves, raping women, torturing and slaughtering men and taught that Islam was to reign supreme over all other religions whenever the numbers in a society were in favor of Islam. Christians and Jews, if they were allowed to live at all, were to be subjugated as second-class “dhimmis.”
Until imams stop teaching doctrines modeled after the seventh-century warlord’s example, violent jihad will always be a problem, he said.
“So there has to be a multi-level approach to fix this problem. You can use extreme vetting and require a strict assimilation, cleansing the educational and religious institutions of Islam of radical elements,” he said. “You can’t do one and not the other, or it will just get worse.”
Too many foreign imams entering U.S.?
“If you do extreme vetting and let the imams preach hatred in the mosques, they are going to create more feelings of victimhood, and you will have more attacks,” Christian said. “You have to block those not worthy of coming here, and then you have to set some rules and regulations on the institution of Islam itself. I would recommend educational programs for imams to understand our Constitution and what America stands for. Then you have to monitor the religious leaders who come here from other countries to preach.”
Christian said nearly 70 percent of the clergy in American mosques are supplied from countries in the Middle East. Most come from Egypt’s Al Azhar University, but some also come from Saudi Arabia, Syria and other nations.
“This is the way imams want to make some money and come to America. The Coptic Church does the same thing, but we don’t have a problem with the Coptic Church,” he said. “For an imam to be an imam, he has to study Islamic law from a university. … Harvard and a few other places have these Islamic studies programs, but the majority come from Egypt and some from Saudi Arabia.”