Jihadists Celebrate Devastating Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

By Patrick Goodenough | April 17, 2019 | 5:04 AM EDT

Notre Dame cathedral burns. (Philippe Wang/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Jihadists and sympathizers took to social media to celebrate the fire that gutted parts of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, with some viewing it as a good omen for Muslims and some as punishment for the enemies of Muslims.

Investigators believe Monday’s fire began accidentally, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. It has launched what it described as “long” and “complex” probe into the cause of the blaze at the 850-year-old gothic cathedral, which was undergoing extensive renovation work.

According to social media material collated and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an incident that has shaken Christians and others in France and around the world was met with delight from certain quarters.

“A good day,” read the wording in French on a poster published by an ISIS-affiliated media outlet, Al-Muntasir, showing a photo of the burning church and its destroyed spire.

“It’s time to say goodbye to your pulpit of polytheism,” it said, and added a verse from the Qur’an translated into English as “a fitting reward” or “an appropriate recompense” (in the context of infidels suffering torment in hell.)

In a Facebook post, one Kaled Abu Suleyman (who according to his profile studied in Syria and works at a café in Mecca) said it was “thrilling” to see “800 years of history of pedophilia, worship of Satan and other diabolical rituals, all up in smoke in a few minutes.”

Another Facebook user, according to MEMRI, suggested the Notre Dame fire was punishment for the expulsion of ISIS fighters from Baghouz, the terrorists’ last foothold in eastern Syria.

A poster published online by ISIS-affiliated Al-Muntasir media. (Image: Twitter/@TRACterrorism)

A Gaza-based Facebook user, over a photo of the burning cathedral, wrote, “The burning of the Notre Dame church in Paris is an answer to the mosque incident in New Zealand. Allah bless your virtue, oh ISIS, oh pride of terrorists.”

MEMRI quoted an ISIS supporter on Twitter – the account has now been suspended – as saying, “They bombed the Muslims in the cities of the Islamic State and eradicated them with the ugliest types of weapons, and they thought that they have won and defeated the jihad. They didn’t know that they brought death upon themselves. They didn’t know that they opened the gates of hell, which will close only on their burnt corpses.”

In a message of the messaging and social media app Telegram, a person described by MEMRI as “a prominent Al-Qaeda supporter” expressed his joy at the sight of the burning cathedral:

“I rejoice and praise Allah as I witness the fall of the oldest cross as a result of the fire in the church in France. This joy is mixed with sorrow, as I remember the massacres of Muslims and the burning of mosques by these infidels. Praise Allah who burned their churches and destroyed their crosses. And let there be no comfort to the hypocrites who expressed sorrow for this gladdening event.”

‘An omen for great good’

Abu Qatadah Al-Falastini, a controversial Jordan-based jihadi cleric, posted a Telegram message that linked Notre Dame to the medieval crusades, and concluded, “Perhaps it is a good omen.”

And from an “Islamist rebel commander in Syria,” also writing on Telegram, came hopes the church fire may portend the “collapse of the international order.”

“Far from foolish optimism, rather I sense it is an omen for great good,” the jihadist wrote, according to the MEMRI translation.

“This year there have been many dreams revolving around the glad tidings of victory. Likewise, the events that are happening, if we look at them in a comprehensive perspective, we will find them to be arrangements of Divine predestination laying the foundations for the collapse of the international order and beforehand, or at the same time, the agents of the American domain. All these are part of a recurring story in the annals of history, praise Allah. Today the oldest cross fell because of a fire in a church in Paris. By Allah, from the land of the den of lions [Syria] I read it as a great message, and see it as glad tidings.”

The SITE Intelligence Group and Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium also reported on jihadists’ online messages relating to the fire.

Although no evidence has emerged to indicate that the Notre Dame fire was caused deliberately, ISIS has targeted churches in France in the past (as jihadists have done for years in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, and Indonesia).

In the spring of 2015, an Algerian was arrested in Paris on suspicion of killing a woman, and was found to have been in contact with a French-speaking jihadist in Syria about carrying out an attack on a church in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. In his car and apartment, police found an AK 47, handguns, bullet-proof vests, and reportedly ISIS and al-Qaeda documents.

The following year, two men claiming allegiance to ISIS took hostages in a Catholic church in Normandy during Mass and murdered an elderly priest.

Two decades ago, police foiled a plot by suspected al-Qaeda-linked terrorists to bomb a market at France’s Strasbourg Cathedral on New Year’s Eve 2000.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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