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ISIS Terror Poster Of Footballer Messi Released Ahead Of World Cup

Cancel that trip to Russia.

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The latest move from terror group ISIS has come in a series of posters threatening an attack during next year’s World Cup. The latest features footballer Lionel Messi crying blood whilst behind bars. The poster states that “you are fighting a state that does not have failure in its dictionary”, and features the phrase “just terrorism”.

Another, released last week, depicts a soldier overlooking a football stadium, armed with explosive devices, with the caption “O enemies of Allah in Russia […] I swear that the Mujahideen [Jihadists] will burn you… just you wait”. The Russian text is a translation of the first clause of the threat.

A third is a simpler version of the latter, posed in front of the Volgograd Arena in Southern Russia, with the Russian text for “wait for us”. Both posters feature the world cup logo.

The posters were released by Wafa Media Foundation, the same group used to communicate ISIS’ responsibility for the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in August.

The football World Cup is due to be held in Russia next summer from 14 June to 15 July. There will be 11 rounds in different Russian cities, before the final in the capital of Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.

In light of Messi’s inclusion on the propaganda, the President of the Argentine FA, Claudio Tapia, has met with the Russian ambassador to Argentina, Victor Koronelli as well as another Russian diplomat, Dmitriy Belov, to discuss the safety of Messi and his team next summer. It is thought that additional security will be put in place at Moscow’s Bronnitsy Training Centre, where Argentina will be staying during the World Cup.

There are also fears for the safety of the two teams playing in the Russia vs. Nigeria friendly on November 14.

Since the release of the last poster, a number of others have emerged on social media, one featuring Didier Deschamps at gunpoint, and another Neymar on his knees in control of an ISIS fighter. It is unknown as to whether these are the work of the same group.

Nonetheless, authorities are treating the threats seriously due to Russia’s history in the Syrian Civil War: last year the Russian government authorised a decisive bombing strategy in Syria against the rebels, which include ISIS. Russia has supported the Syrian government since 2011, and became directly militarily involved in 2015.

Earlier this year, on 3rd April, a briefcase bomb was detonated in St Petersburg Metro station, killing 15 and injuring at least 45 more. Before the attack ISIS propaganda had been released calling for a strike on Moscow, with the text “We will burn Russia”. There were also images of current Russian President Vladimir Putin riddled with bullet holes.

This month other ISIS propaganda has emerged with depictions of photos of Putin and US President Donald Trump stuck to target practice boards. This poster held the caption “Lie in wait for them at every chance to ambush […] The Levant is the graveyard of the Russians and Americans”.

Much of the internal support for ISIS is thought to largely come from the North Caucasus region, where Islam is the predominant religion. Thousands of Russians have travelled to the Middle East to fight with ISIS in the last five years. In 2015 alone, 2,400 are hypothesised to have joined the cause.

ISIS have previously beheaded four football players in front of children, stating that football is anti-Islamic.

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