Isil tells would-be jihadists: Shave your beard, encrypt your phones and wear western clothes
Isil issues "dos and don'ts" advice for lone wolf attackers who want to avoid security services detection
Islamic State has issued an advice booklet for followers who want to carry out “lone wolf” attacks of the sort that are plaguing European countries.
The booklet, “Safety and security guidelines for lone wolf mujahideen and small cells”, tells readers how to “surprise the enemy” by evading security agencies.
“Any operation that doesn’t have a strong security and precaution base is deemed to fail, just like a big building needs strong foundations,” it says. “Security precautions are the foundations of any operation.”
The booklet was originally written in Arabic for al-Qaeda, and followed other advice documents for jihadists such as the famous "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom". But it has now been translated and re-released in English by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which split off from al-Qaeda in 2014.
No reason is given for its distribution now. But the security services and David Cameron, the Prime Minister, have claimed seven terrorist plots were foiled last year alone, suggesting Isil’s attempts to carry out attacks are being stymied by security breaches.
It gives lists of encryption software that can be used to disguise the contents of emails and mobile phone calls, and outlines the basic operation of a terrorist cell structure, that limits the number of supporters any other supporter knows.
It says that lone wolves in particular should try and meld in with the local population, including by “not looking like a Muslim”. That means shaving your beard, wearing western clothes and not attending mosque too frequently.
However, it also realises that this advice might itself cause difficulty, so it goes as far as giving fashion advice.
“Always look like any random tourist or normal traveller,” it says. “Make the colours go with each other. Wearing a red or yellow shirt with black pants (trousers) will get you noticed as someone who is not used to this kind of clothing.
“Also, no need to put on new clothes, as that can be suspicious. Some brothers like to buy entirely new cloths, from top to bottom including shoes, but that will get too much attention.”
It even gives instruction for what kind of “perfume” a man should wear. “If you want to use perfume during your travel, don’t use the oily, non-alcoholic perfume that Muslims use.
“Use generic alcoholic perfume as everyone does, and if you are a man, use perfume for men.”
Some of the advice, though is more obvious, suggesting a certain lack of imagination among the booklet’s target market.
Leave behind the prayer mat, take some cash, and if you have fake documents, make sure they have the same name in them.
“A lot of brothers have been caught because of that,” it says. “So try as much as you can to have all your documents bearing the same name: ID card, passport, driver’s licence.”
What is Isil?
An Islamic extremist group controlling territory in Syria and Iraq
What is it called?
In the West, the group is usually known as Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). In June, the militants said that wanted to simply be called Islamic State in recognition of the self-declared caliphate
What about 'Daesh'?
Daesh is an abreviation Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham, and is the derogatory name used by many Muslims for Isil. Following the Paris attacks, the French government is now using this term
What are its aims?
A worldwide Islamic caliphate - a religious government - without borders
What terror attacks has it carried out?
Isil has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015, the explosion of a plane travelling from Egypt to Russia, and the individual killings of Western hostages, including James Foley and Alan Henning
How is the group funded?
Looting, extortion and the possession of oilfields providing an estimated £1.8m in revenue per day
How much territory does Isil control?
An area of the Middle East that is roughly the size of Belgium
Where is it based?
Isil's HQ is understood to be in the city of Raqqa, Syria