IRAQ

ISIS Celebrates Second Anniversary: ‘Next Year, In Mecca’

In spite of facing major offensives in Iraq and Syria, ISIS supporters claim Damascus, Baghdad and Rome are within their grasp

IRAQ
Stepping on "Daesh" during last year's Ramadan — REUTERS
Jun 06, 2016 at 10:58 AM ET

It’s been two full years since ISIS officially took the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and declared an Islamic caliphate. Online, the terror group’s supporters are sending each other missives of congratulations, along with blessings for the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While the Islamic State is under attack in the western city of Fallujah, and the prospect of Iraqi forces eventually wresting Mosul back looms large, online ISIS fans said they hoped the Caliphate would next year reach as far as Damascus, Baghdad and even Rome.

“Exactly today in the first of Ramadan the establishment of the Caliphate was announced. We congratulate the Caliphate State in the beginning of its third year, wishing it will remain every year,” wrote one user on Twitter. Another wrote to “congratulate the Caliph of Muslims and its soldiers and supporters on the occasion of the month of Ramadan, next year with the permission of God the rule of the Caliphate will arrive in Rome.”

Translation: Exactly today on the first of Ramadan 1435, the establishment of the Caliphate was announced. We congratulate the Caliphate state at the beginning of its third year, wishing it will remain every year.”

Followers on Twitter talked up the dream of reaching Baghdad and Damascus, and a pro-ISIS channel on Telegram sent wishes for “the next Ramadan [to be] in Mecca and Palestine.”

“With the help of God, the Islamic State is completing its second year in spite of the fierce struggle against Arabs and Crusaders and all the infidel nations against it,” a group for ISIS posted on its Telegram channel, asking God “to make it the month of conquest, to humiliate the Shiites, apostates, infidels and polytheists, and specifically the Saudi regime.”

The month of Ramadan is spent largely in fasting, prayer and attending to charitable causes. In a speech last month, ISIS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called upon Muslims to launch attacks on the United States and Europe during Ramadan, invoking its history as “the Month of Conquests,” given the many battles Muslims have fought during that period.

While it celebrates online, however, the group faces military pressure on the ground. Iraqi forces continue to amass along the outskirts of the city of Fallujah, while to the north, Syrian forces and the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters are preparing their own major offensive for Raqqa, the Islamic State’s seat in Syria.