ISIS spokesman calls for attacks on Arab nations

WASHINGTON • In his first statement in 10 months, a spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has called for violence against neighbouring Arab nations, suggesting that the militant group's focus was turning closer to home.

The remarks were a departure from the last pronouncement issued by the spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, which aimed to incite attacks against Europe and North America. It comes as the group is retrenching in its core territory after losing all but 3 per cent of the area it once held in Iraq and Syria.

In a nearly hour-long audio recording, released on Sunday in the group's chat rooms in the messaging app Telegram, the spokesman called on fighters to redirect their ire towards the leaders of Arab nations in the region, whom he described as "apostates", a term that ISIS uses to refer to fellow Sunnis who have strayed from its extreme interpretation of the faith.

The spokesman said there was "no difference" between fighting the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and the Palestinians "and their American Crusader allies, or the Russians or the Europeans".

He also warned that ISIS would attack polling stations in Iraq during parliamentary election on May 12, and that anyone who participated in the vote would be considered an infidel.

Iraqi officials have said polling stations will be well protected.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2018, with the headline 'ISIS spokesman calls for attacks on Arab nations'. Print Edition | Subscribe