Before 17-year-old Muhammad Riyad went on an axe rampage on Monday, slashing at least 20 passengers on a German train, he sent a suicide video to ISIS.
In the clip, which the jihadist group’s news agency, Amaq, released on Tuesday, Riyad calls himself as a soldier of the caliphate while brandishing a knife.
“I want to perform a martyrdom operation in Germany," he proclaims. “I will slaughter you with this blade and will cut your throats with an axe.”
Riyad’s monologue closely mirrors the script that ISIS has created for lone wolf attackers, after it called on its fans in the West to kill disbelievers “wherever you find them.”
Riyad, who was reportedly born in Afghanistan and was living with a foster family in Germany, urged fellow jihadis to “fight apostate armies in your lands” if they couldn’t make it to Syria.
“[ISIS sympathizers] will slaughter you in your own homes,” Riyad warns in the video. “And they will build new bases on your lands.”
The attack by Riyad comes days after a Tunisian immigrant—another apparent lone wolf attacker with questionable ties to ISIS—plowed a truck into a crowd in the French city of Nice, killing 84 and injuring scores more.
Before the Nice massacre, Europe had already been engaged in a virulent public debate about how many refugees Western countries should accept, and how they could be properly vetted for radicals. Germany accepted more than 2 million refugees last year, but Riyad’s direct message feeds into anti-refugee sentiment.
“I have lived in your land and in your homes, where I planned against you,” he said to the camera. “And I will slaughter you in your homes and alleys.”
Riyad was killed at the scene of the attack. He injured four people, three of them seriously, and 14 others were treated for shock. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said Riyad was an Afghan refugee living in a nearby town, and that he might have come to the country as an unaccompanied minor.
In a report published earlier this year, Georgia State University researchers found that ISIS actively recruits and incorporates children into its missions. They found that at least 89 children had died fighting for the caliphate in 2015, often in roles similar to those held by adults.
Mia Bloom, one of the authors of the report, told The Daily Beast that the existence of a video pledge, released post-mortem, can help distinguish attacks that had closer tangible ties to the Islamic State. Attackers who send in videos ahead of time demonstrate greater forethought, and have contact with individuals to whom they submit the videos.
That’s what distinguishes attacks like the one by Amedy Coulibaly, who held hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris last year and whose video pledge was later publicized by the terrorist group, from ones like the Pulse nightclub or in San Bernardino, where the pledge of allegiance to ISIS appeared to be a last-minute effort, Bloom said.