Islamic State threatens World Cup with video of burning stadium

Footage, most of it recycled from earlier clips, also threatens the ‘dog’ Putin will ‘burn in the hellfire’

Islamic State video threatening the 2018 World Cup in Russia (Screenshot/MEMRI)
Islamic State video threatening the 2018 World Cup in Russia (Screenshot/MEMRI)

The Islamic State terrorist group on Wednesday released a video threatening an attack at the World Cup, a day before the global soccer tournament kicked off in Russia.

Most of the video is comprised of footage which the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) watchdog said was previously released by the terrorist group’s Caucasus branch, but the final scenes show a drone with an Islamic State logo flying over the Olympic village in Sochi as the buildings and stadia explode in flames.

The four-minute film opens with a group of 11 individuals (three of whom have their faces blurred) in front of an Islamic State flag.

“Nobody knows that we are mujahideen [jihadists] and that we are operating here in the city – not our families, not our friends, not our work colleagues, and not even our brothers,” says the man in the center of the group. “We are lying in wait for you, and we know everything about your moves, Allah-willing. So watch out for that moment, watch your cars, watch your homes. The brothers are going to hunt you down, Allah-willing.”

A second jihadist warns viewers the threat does not only come from Iraq and Syria, but also from from their “army” of fighters in Russia: “By Allah, we have sharpened our knives, and we are coming for you. By Allah, the vanguard of our army will get to you, not only from Iraq and Syria, but also from our army in Russia.”

He goes on to issue a specific threat against Russian President Vladimir Putin: “By Allah, oh Putin, you dog, you will burn in the hellfire, Allah-willing.”

The final scenes show the drone flying over the Olympic village at Sochi which is being used for the international soccer tournament, as buildings and sporting venues erupt into computer-generated flames.

Photo montages threatening attacks on the World Cup began appearing online last year, apparently the work of the IS propaganda arm known as the Wafa Media Foundation.

Crude and explicit, the clips showed superstars such as Lionel Messi and Neymar dressed in the familiar orange suits used for videotaped executions.

Lying on the ground, with knives up against their throats or dying in flames, the message accompanying them was blunt: “You will not enjoy security until we live it in Muslim countries,” the posts said.

Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Troy Souza, authors of a report published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) on the dangers IS poses to the World Cup, say the propaganda campaign unfurled by IS was “unprecedented.”

“In just the past few years, there have been numerous successful terror attacks or thwarted plots in Russia by terrorists linked to or inspired by the Islamic State,” they wrote. “This suggests the group may have the capacity to launch attacks in Russia during the World Cup.”

Police from 33 countries have gathered in Russia for a massive security operation during the tournament, assessing and dealing with threats ranging from hooliganism and terrorism to a backlash against local laws restricting LGBT rights.

Russia has seen an uptick in attacks on its soil by Islamic State since it became involved in the Syrian conflict. In 2015 Islamic State claimed it was responsible for the downing of a Russian passenger jet which crashed into the Sinai desert on its way from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing 224 passengers and crew.

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