Supporters of the Islamic State jihadist group have been using social media to praise the deadly suicide blast at the Manchester Arena on Monday, the US-based terrorism-tracking website SITE Intelligence said.
“No claim regarding blast in #Manchester, but #ISIS accounts celebrating the attack, disseminating media & threats,” tweeted SITE’s director Rita Katz.
“Pro-#ISIS forum users call #Manchester attack ‘a successful and surprising blow,’ to #Britain, frame attack as retaliation for airstrikes,” Katz said in a further tweet.
Pro-IS accounts have recently urged supporters to ‘hunt your prey’ in Britain, providing information on community centres, tourist areas and government buildings, according to Katz.
Katz said IS supporter have also used the encrypted Telegram messaging service to re-circulate videos threatening Britain and the West, since the Manchester attack late on Monday.
At least 22 people died and around 60 were injured when a lone male detonated a bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena at 10.35 p.m. local time after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, police said.
IS supporters hailed the bombing as a victory against “the crusaders” of the West. In one video posted to Youtube a supporter of the group held up homemade sign with the word “Manchester” and the date of the attack, with Arabic words ‘”Allah Akbar” (God is great) written beneath.
“This is only the beginning. The lions of Islamic State of Iraq and Sham are beginning to attack all the crusaders,” the masked man said in the short video, speaking in English.
IS celebrations of the Manchester attack on social media were a “strong indicator” that it may be linked to the extremist group, according to US-based terrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II.
“Growing celebrations of situation in #Manchester on key IS-linked Telegram channels. Strong indicator of IS linkage,” Smith tweeted.
The Manchester attack has drawn condemnation from western and Muslim leaders alike.