ISIS's Perverse, Bloody Interpretation of Ramadan

For the overwhelming majority of Muslims, Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time of prayer and atonement. In addition to fasting for its duration and praying five times per day (as normal), many Muslims add special readings from the Koran to their daily worship, so that, by the end of the holy month—which, this year, begins today and ends on June 24—the text has been read in its entirety.

Sadly, in recent years, Ramadan has been marred by increased terrorist violence around the world, as the Islamic State has attempted to transform it into a month of unparalleled bloodshed. To some extent, it appears that its supporters are willing to help it do so.

 People attend a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester on May 23, 2017.
The Manchester Attack and the Difficulty of Prevention

On June 23, 2015, six days into Ramadan, then-ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called for attacks to commemorate the holy month. Three days later, a Shia mosque in Kuwait was hit by an ISIS suicide bomb that killed 26 Muslim worshippers. Later that same day, a tourist resort near the city of Sousse in Tunisia came under fire, with the attacker killing 38 people and injuring dozens more. On May 21, 2016, about two weeks before the start of Ramadan, Adnani made another speech. “Get prepared, be ready,” he said, “to make it a month of calamity everywhere for nonbelievers.” He argued that the targeting of civilians in the West was not only permissible, but desirable, and that as long as coalition forces were at war with ISIS there were no “innocents.”

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