ISIS: Magazine Suggests Hostage Taking as a Tactic

On May 4, ISIS released the ninth edition of its online magazine, Rumiyah, which featured an article on detaining people during an attack—stating the purpose is “not to hold large numbers of the [disbelievers] hostage in order to negotiate demands…the objective is to create as much carnage and terror as possible.” The article also praises the attacks at the Bataclan theater in Paris and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as examples for sympathizers to emulate. 

  • The magazine suggests busy, public, and enclosed locations—including nightclubs, movie theaters, malls, and concert halls—as ideal targets. It states followers should use hostages to delay law enforcement entry, while maximizing publicity and fear. Finally, operatives are to notify authorities that they are “a soldier of the Islamic State” and should expect to be killed during the incident.
  • In November 2015, three gunmen stormed the Bataclan theater during a concert, killing 89 and holding approximately 10 captives for over two hours. In June 2016, Omar Mateen attacked a busy nightclub, killing 49 and holding around 30 people hostage for three hours. During the standoff, he called law enforcement, describing himself as an Islamic soldier and pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

An NJOHSP discussion with hostage negotiators and law enforcement personnel in New Jersey revealed the importance of integrated training among law enforcement, fire, and emergency services, as well as timely reporting from those initially on scene and established active shooter protocols.

  • Hostage response teams require detailed situational awareness to develop the appropriate response plans and rely on first responders for accurate and timely information. Additionally, patrol officers at the scene should be prepared—in accordance with agency policies—to confront perpetrators or cordon off the site.
  • NJOHSP provides active shooter resources and Incident Command System training (ICS-300) in order to better prepare for terror-related attacks. Additional classes and resources can be found on the NJOHSP training calendar.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.