The Islamic State group called on its followers to attack U.S. citizens voting in the presidential and state election Tuesday, according to an article published Saturday by the group's media center. The article explained that democracy was incompatible with ISIS' interpretation of Islam and urged Muslims not to participate in the electoral process.
The seven-page piece, entitled "The Apostate Vote," was attributed to the group, also known as ISIS, through one of its media outlets, Al Hayat Media Center. Using a parable from the Islamic religious tradition, the author denounced modern democracy and accused those who voted of being infidels. The author then claimed that voters made even better targets than Western military personnel and urged Muslims to wreak havoc against them on Election Day.
"We have come to slaughter you and smash your ballot boxes," the article read. "May Allah make this year’s U.S. presidential election a dreadful calamity like no other to have struck America throughout its pathetic history," it later added.
Despite the group's call to arms, many Muslims have expressed the feeling they are the target this electoral season. Muslim officials have described being the victim of vandalization, armed protests and hateful rhetoric in the days leading up to the presidential election. To counter this, many Muslims plan to vote in large numbers.
ISIS' latest article was the group's latest attempt to counter this narrative and draw support as the militants face heavy military and territorial losses in Iraq and Syria. Citing Quranic evidence, the author claimed that voting was grounds for apostasy because it delegated authority to the people when all should be reserved for God.
"Whoever [votes], is an apostate whether he is an open secularist or an alleged 'Islamist,' as legislation is Allah’s alone and judgment is His alone, not for the people, nor the constitution of the people, nor the representatives of the people," the author wrote.
The piece also aimed to delegitimize the electoral process by pointing out that neither party represented the interests of ISIS' brand of Islam and condemned imams and Muslim religious figures who came out in support of one candidate or the other. It stated that, because voting is voluntary, Muslims could not claim they were coerced and that they should not resort to voting for "the lesser of two evils" because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton represented essentially the same interests.
"The only differences between Trump and Clinton are that Clinton is more skilled in 'political correctness,' giving her leverage in the sorcery of hypocrisy, that she is a female feminist – and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'Never shall a people who give their leadership to a woman be successful' (Reported by al-Bukhari from Abu Bakrah) – and that Trump is impulsive and unpredictable," the author wrote.
The news came as authorities warned Friday of a potential threat from Al Qaeda militants in New York, Texas and Virginia around Election Day. While no specific plot was revealed, local authorities were reportedly on high alert for Tuesday's elections.