German authorities arrested a Syrian man accused of being a member of ISIS and broadcasting the terror group’s claims for attacks in the West to its media outlets in the ‘Caliphate,’ according to law enforcement officials.
Prosecutors say Mohammed G., 23, identified by surname initial only, was arrested Wednesday in accordance with Germany’s privacy laws and is accused of being a liaison for the Islamic State’s Amaq ‘newswire.’
Mohammaed G. arrived in Germany September 2015 to verify attacks in the West carried out in the name of the Islamic State and would then transmit this information via encrypted social media apps to ISIS’ media hierarchy, according to Germany’s public prosecutor.
He is also accused of operating various encrypted chat rooms to spread propaganda for the Islamic State.
On October 12, 2016 he was in contact with the jihadi who had thrown a Molotov cocktail a day earlier at a Muslim community center in Malmo, Sweden causing extensive damage. The Islamic State was looking to verify the claim as being carried out in its name.
A claim for the attack subsequently appeared in the Islamic State’s weekly Naba newspaper, labeled an attack by an “Islamic State soldier on the Crusader state of Sweden,” and in response to a call by the late ISIS commander Abu Mohammad Al Adnani, to carry out attacks against “infidels” in the West.
Adnani, ISIS’ ‘propaganda chief,’ was killed in a coalition airstrike in August 2016, but his message has become a cornerstone for jihadis to channel their militancy towards targets back home in the West.
It took until March of this year for prosecutors in Sweden to file terror charges against the suspect who has contested the charges. In December 2016, a Malmo district court denied the chief prosecutors recommendation of terror charges, charging him instead with arson.
At that time, the prosecutor returned with severe charges, including harming Sweden’s national security interests, after police searched through the suspect’s computer, finding a tutorial on how to make an explosives detonator as well as propaganda videos showing Islamic State jihadis killing ‘infidels.’
All charges against the suspect were dismissed following a trial in April, when the court ruled that the prosecutor had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the veracity of any of the allegations including the arson charge.
In February, the White House released a list of 78 terror attacks “underreported” by the Western media, including the Malmo incident. Swedish counterterrorism officials dismissed the report as ‘domestic propaganda’.
While some in the West appear to question the authenticity of Islamic State claims for terror attacks, the arrest may shed some much-needed light on the inner workings of the terror group’s global network. Experts sometimes dismiss ISIS responsibility claims especially when the attacker has died, while others suggest waiting for so-called ‘Bayah,’ or video pledges, as hard proof of responsibility; something the Islamic State doesn’t always provide and very often does not possess.
When ISIS media arm cites its sources for an attack, it is often “a source” told Amaq, which to many is interpreted as an opportunistic claim by the Islamic State.
Wednesday’s arrest suggests the Islamic State media network across Europe is far more substantial than previously suspected, with operatives passing information directly back to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq from localities.
The Islamic State considers Muslims in the West not subscribing to its extremist ideology as legitimate enemies, targeting Shite Muslims as “infidels” just as they label other Westerners.
While Western media labeled the motive for Malmo as arson, especially with it being an Islamic center, ISIS was quick to emphasize the attack was carried out in its name, even mocking Swedish media for reporting the fire but not accepting the group’s claim of responsibility.