BEIRUT — The Islamic State group vowed in an audio message released Monday that the extremists will start a new phase of attacks that will focus on Israel and blasted the U.S. administration’s plan to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Despite carrying out deadly attacks throughout the world over the past years, ISIS has rarely targeted Israel. The audio appears to try to win the extremist group popularity in the region at a time when President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” is expected to be announced in the U.S. soon.
The Palestinians have not been consulted on the much-trumpeted deal and have pre-emptively rejected the U.S. proposal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington Sunday night vowing to “make history” at a planned meeting with Trump for the unveiling of the deal.
The U.S. military is resuming operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and is working to soon restart training Iraqi forces, U.S. officials said Wednesday, despite deep divisions over the American drone strike that killed an senior Iranian commander in Baghdad and the resulting missile attacks by Iran on Iraqi bases.
ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi urged in the 37-minute audio members of the extremist group to carry out attacks against Israel. The message was released by the group’s al-Furqan media.
The rallying message comes at a time when ISIS has suffered major defeats over the past year including the death of its leader and founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a U.S. attack in northwestern Syria. The extremists also lost in March last year the last sliver of land they controlled as part of their so-called caliphate declared in 2014 over wide parts of Iraq and Syria.
“He and his brothers in all states have vowed to begin a new phase, which is to fight the Jews and restore all that they have usurped from Muslims,” the spokesman said about al-Qurayshi.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sought to establish an Islamic “caliphate” across Syria and Iraq, but he might be remembered more as the ruthlessly calculating leader of the Islamic State group who brought terror to the heart of Europe and set up a short-lived organization so extreme that it was shunned even by al-Qaida.
The message exhorted the “soldiers of the caliphate” especially in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and across the Levant to attack Jewish targets as they are near to Israel.
The spokesman added: “To Muslims and Palestine and elsewhere, be a main force in fighting Jews and frustrating their plans such as the Deal of the Century.”