Why ISIS Sees an Elderly Priest as a Threat to the Caliphate

By Bridget Johnson, Originally published in the New York Observer

In a string of accelerating strikes across the map, the Islamic State’s attack on a French Catholic parish stands out for its symbolism in the terror group’s ultimate goal.

Followers of any faith other than their Wahhabist interpretation of Islam are reviled by ISIS as “infidels,” but certain religious groups have more strategic significance than others.

Their targeting of Jews is as clear as it is for any other terror group from Hamas to al-Qaeda to the mullahs in Tehran: they want to wipe Israel off the map and seize Al-Aqsa for Muslims. ISIS’ war in the Sinai, infiltration in Gaza and its goal of carving “pathways” through Jordan and Lebanon are critical cogs in their strategy to be the ones to “liberate” Jerusalem. According to an ISIS e-book, “Black Flags from Palestine,” they think the final confrontation with the antichrist will be at Ben Gurion International Airport.

When noting ISIS’ broader attacks against Christians, recent events have grimly underscored the group’s special targeting of Catholics.

The sacking of Rome and the Holy See, after all, is essential to their apocalyptic game plan.

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