Center for Strategic Communication

The Islamic State claimed that an Australian fighter killed several Iraqis in a suicide attack at a Shia shrine in Baghdad today.

The Baghdad Division of the Islamic State claimed credit for today’s attack in the Al Shorja neighborhood in Baghdad in a statement that was released on the group’s Twitter feed. Five people were killed and 37 more were wounded in the suicide attack, according to the National Iraqi News Agency.

The Islamic State said today’s attack in Baghdad was executed by “the brother,
the knight, the emigrant, Abu Bakr al Australi,” according to a translation of the statement by the SITE Intelligence Group. Abu Bakr’s real name has not been disclosed.

Abu Bakr “advanced on a day when many among the Arabs stopped,” and detonated “his heavy explosive belt amidst one of the Rafidah [Shia] temples in Al Shorja.”

The Islamic State claimed that the Al Shorja mosque was used by Shia militias “for the war on Islam and to kill and displace its people.” Shia clerics have called on Iraqis to volunteer to defend Shia shrines as well as Baghdad and other areas of the country that have not been taken over by the Islamic State and allied groups.

Today’s suicide attack by a foreign fighter precedes three other such attacks that took place yesterday. The Salahaddin Division claimed that a Libyan, a Saudi, and an Azerbaijani executed suicide bombings in Tikrit and near Samarra.

In the past, the Islamic State has promoted suicide attacks by its foreign fighters in both Iraq and Syria. Prior to its offensive that began on June 10, the Islamic State released multiple statements praising foreign suicide bombers from countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan or Pakistan, Tajikistan, the Russian Republic of Chechnya, France, Germany, England, and Denmark. [See LWJ report, ISIS touts French, German, and Libyan suicide bombers in Syria.]

Australian jihadists in Iraq and Syria

Several prominent Australian clerics are known to have traveled to Syria to support the jihad. Abu Sulayman al Muhajir, a firebrand cleric while in Australia, is currently a senior sharia (Islamic law) official in the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, which is a rival of the Islamic State. Abu Sulayman has been critical of the Islamic State in the past.

Mustapha al Majzoub, a dual Australian and Syrian citizen who resided in Sydney before traveling to Syria, was killed in a rocket attack in Aleppo on Aug. 19, 2012. According to jihadists, Majzoub was known for his efforts to recruit fighters from Australia, and had gone to Syria in June 2012 to “join the resistance alongside jihadi Salafis.”

Also, Musa Cerantonio, an Australia cleric who supported and joined the Islamic State, was captured in the Philippines on July 11. Cerantonio claimed on July 1 that he was traveling to Syria to support the Islamic State.