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Islamic State Supporters Urge Baltimore Rioters to Join Extremist Cause

The Islamic State may believe in killing all those who don’t adhere to its own form of Sunnism. But it is a model of racial equality compared with the United States -- or so say its supporters who have taken to Twitter to capitalize on the Baltimore riots.

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The Islamic State may believe in killing all those who don’t adhere to its own extremist form of Sunnism. But it is a model of racial equality compared with the United States — or so say its supporters who have taken to Twitter to capitalize on the Baltimore riots.

Amid violence over the death of black Baltimore resident Freddie Gray from spinal injuries while in police custody, Islamic State propagandists have gleefully proclaimed that unlike the United States, their self-styled caliphate sees “no difference between black and white.”

Other tweets by supporters of the notoriously brutal group use the riots as an excuse to blast Washington’s actions in both the United States and the Middle East.

The flood of tweets echoes Islamic State recruitment calls aimed at Ferguson protesters last year. In November, for example, one British-born Islamic State supporter posted a message on Twitter declaring, “we will help you if you accept Islam and reject corrupt man-made laws like democracy and pledge your allegiance to Caliph Abu Bakr and then we will shed our blood for you and send our soldiers that don’t sleep, whose drink is blood, and their play is carnage.”

The SITE Intelligence Group, however, notes that while “past appeals to Ferguson protesters and rioters appeared to regard them as victims,” some of the current pro-Islamic State tweets characterize the Baltimore rioters instead as rebels.

In casting the rioters as rebels, many tweets urge them to join forces with extremists:

Speaking at a White House press conference Tuesday, Obama acknowledged the seriousness of the problem behind the riots.

“Since Ferguson and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions,” Obama said. “What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new. And we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.”

Noting that the Justice Department is working with local law enforcement to investigate the Freddie Gray case, the president said the larger problems facing poor communities require the nation to “do some soul searching.”

Islamic State supporters also want Americans to do some soul searching – but not the kind Obama’s looking for.

Photo credit: Twitter.com

Justine Drennan was a fellow at Foreign Policy. She previously reported from Cambodia for the Associated Press and other outlets. @jkdrennan

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