According to Vocativ, a unique news service that searches the deep web for stories, ISIS has "published the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States and called on its adherents to attack them during the holiday season."
The "deep web" is the vast realm of the internet that is not included in public search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Vocativ found the list on Wednesday evening. It was posted to Telegram, a virtually unregulated texting service, in a user group that calls itself "Secrets of Jihadis." Written in Arabic, the post called for...
...“bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year” and announced the group’s plans to utilize its network of lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.”
The list of churches includes congregations in all 50 states in the US. It is a list that, in Arabic, was published in several posts. It includes a public directory that, apparently, identifies churches by name, address, and perhaps more. Vocativ notes that, for its part, it "does not publish specific information found in lists like these."
The call for terror attacks against churches in America is consistent with Issue 15 of the Islamic State's English magazine, Dabiq. Published August 2016, the issue is titled, "Break the Cross." The publication includes extensive theological arguments against Christianity and justifying violent jihad. Articles are peppered photos of smiling children, jihadists holding kittens, and bloody depictions of executed "apostates."
One of the articles, "Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You," explains the core reason for the Islamist group's call to attack Christians around the world.
We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you.
...Furthermore, just as your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, your disbelief is the primary reason we fight you, as we have been commanded to fight the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah – for those afforded this option – and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims.
While there is reason to doubt the ability of Islamic State to carry out a broad range of terror attacks in the US, during the last year the organization has not hesitated to take credit for virtually every murderous assault in which assailants cried, "Allahu Akbar," meaning, "Allah is greatest."
News of an ISIS hit list naming thousands of churches as targets for jihad is a wake up call to Christians in the United States. In the aftermath of recent terror attacks against a Coptic church in downtown Cairo and Christmas shoppers in Berlin, the threat of similar assaults in America is all too real.