While much recent international focus has been on ISIS' attacks in the UK, the latest issue of the group's magazine Rumiyah suggests that recent events in the Philippines and Iran have been of greater significance to the group.
The front cover of Rumiyah’s tenth edition features an image of the recently attacked Resorts World complex in Manila with the headline, “The Jihad in East Asia.” ISIS’ claim of the attack was disputed by authorities. Inside, there is a lengthy interview with the ‘Amir of the Soldiers of the Khilafah’ in the Philippines and the obituary of a Malaysian foreign fighter killed fighting for the group in the Philippines. There is also criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte, described by ISIS as ‘the Crusader taghut (false god or tyrant) of the Philippines.’
In the interview with Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir, ISIS’ amir in East Asia, details emerge about the scale of foreign fighters in the region, and how the ranks, weapons, and resources of the outfit continue to grow. Muhajir speaks at length about efforts by the “Crusader” government to quash the ‘jihad’ and how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a separatist insurgent movement, was seduced and subdued by the government, leading many to become dissatisfied and follow the path of ‘jihad.’
The magazine contains no reference to the ISIS-claimed attack in Tehran, which took place hours before the issue was released. However, it contains an article - “The Twelver Rafidah, from a Non-Existent Imam to the Leadership of Tawaghit (false gods or tyrants)” - that refutes the legitimacy of the Shia tradition. The fourth in a series of articles on “Establishing the Islamic State,” the piece starts by dismissing the origins of the Shia tradition following the death of the Prophet Mohammad. It ends by refuting Iran’s theocratic Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist) system of governance, which was devised by Ayatollah Khomeini and instituted in Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The piece is illustrated with images of shrines and the Iranian Parliament, the targets in Wednesday’s Tehran attack. The existence of such an article in Rumiyah, as well as the corroborating footage of the assault released via ISIS’ affiliated Amaq news agency, suggest significant evidence of direct ISIS involvement in the incident.
On the May bombing in Manchester, ISIS criticises the reaction following the blast, scorning British Muslims for their condemnations of terrorist attacks and taunting politicians and the police for their responses. ISIS maintains that the people of Manchester “were clearly suffering” after the suicide attack, in which 22 people were killed.
The opening article of the magazine also takes aim at the analyst community who suggested ISIS would look to lash out with attacks abroad as it suffered territorial setbacks in Iraq and Syria. The group stresses that territorial losses mean nothing, insisting it has undergone setbacks before and has only emerged stronger and with more intent.
An ‘exclusive’ feature discusses a memo circulated by ISIS’ “Delegated Committee” earlier this year, outlining the creed and theology of the group. According to the article, the memo reaffirmed commitment to the ideas of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and that reiterated that there had been no change in religion, methodology, or objectives as AQI evolved into the so-called Islamic State. While there has been much discussion of Saudi Arabia and its role in fighting terrorism following the Riyadh summit some weeks ago, the memo says that ISIS was “established on the same principals” as the state founded by Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi school of thought.
This is the first Rumiyah published during Ramadan this year, which started at the end of May. Whether it’s the timings of when the caliphate was launched, the wording used to make armed jihad incumbent on its followers, or the devastating trail of destruction that ISIS leaves behind during the holy month, Ramadan is a big deal for ISIS. In this issue, there are five ‘adverts’ dedicated to extolling the virtues of Ramadan. These appear in place of the usual infographics the group publishes on how to carry out attacks and outcomes from its ‘operations.’ So far this during Ramadan this year, ISIS has claimed at least 12 attacks in nine different countries, killing over 120 people and injuring dozens more.