ISIS fighter with American accent urges supporters to take advantage of US gun laws

A wall bearing the ISIS group flag as Iraqi fighters battle militants in al-Qaim city, Iraq, in November 2017.
A wall bearing the ISIS group flag as Iraqi fighters battle militants in al-Qaim city, Iraq, in November 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - In a video released on Wednesday (Dec 27) by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, a one-legged fighter identified by the group as an American called on Muslims in the United States to "take advantage" of the country's gun laws to obtain weapons and carry out attacks.

The fighter, identified as "Abu Salih al-Amriki," wears khaki fatigues with a holstered pistol in the online video, which was published by a propaganda wing of ISIS. He speaks in English with what sounded like a New York City-area accent.

"Take advantage of the fact that you can easily obtain a rifle or a pistol in America," the fighter implored. "Spray the kuffar (infidels) with bullets so that their fear of the Muslims rises and they continue to reveal their hatred towards Islam."

The Site Intelligence Group, a private organisation that tracks Islamist militant media, published a copy of the video in which Abu Salih also called President Donald Trump a "dog of Rome".

"You entered into the White House on the back of your crusader rhetoric which the fake media has pressured you to tone down," the fighter said.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had no immediate comment on Abu Salih's identity nor the potential threat of his entreaties to violence.

But the possibility that ISIS followers in the United States will acquire powerful weapons by legal means has been a growing concern of American counterterrorism officials.

Just last week, the outgoing director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, Nicholas Rasmussen, told reporters that permissive US gun laws enable mass murders who want to carry out large-scale attacks.

"We find ourselves in a more dangerous situation because our population of violent extremists has no difficulty gaining access to weapons that are quite lethal," Rasmussen said. "I wish that weren't so."

The video released on Wednesday begins with Abu Salih slipping on what looks like a prosthetic leg and pushing himself up on crutches. A bullet-scarred cityscape of demolished buildings appears in the background as he launches into his statement, which also urges other wounded and disabled militants to keep fighting.

It was not immediately clear where or when Abu Salih's statement was recorded.

The slickly produced video is part of a recent series the militant group has dubbed Inside The Caliphate that has featured mainly foreign militants threatening attacks. A montage of beheadings and bombings follows Abu Salih's statement, set to a soundtrack of militants chanting.

The recent videos were produced by the ISIS' al-Hayat Media Centre, which has published some of the group's most high-profile material targeting Western audiences. Its online magazine Rumiyah is published in several languages, including English, and often features calls for attacks in the West.

The group has urged followers to kill with any tools at their disposal, including vehicles, and the group claimed responsibility for the Oct 31 truck attack that killed eight people along a bike path in Lower Manhattan. In Wednesday's video Abu Salih also tells attackers to "get a knife and slice the throat of the (infidels) so that they know that the blood of the Muslims is not cheap."

The group's media output has waned, however, as it loses prime territory in Iraq and Syria, where it once declared an Islamic caliphate.

Before Wednesday's release, the most recent of the Inside The Caliphate series urged ISIS followers to be patient following the "blood spilled" in Syria and Iraq. It also encouraged supporters everywhere to "rise against the (infidels)."