Hundreds of supporters of the Islamic State (ISIS) took to Twitter and other social media websites to celebrate the deadly nail bomb explosion at a packed Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., on Monday night.
At least 22 people were killed in the explosion and 59 injured, according to the latest media reports.
Young children were reportedly among innocent victims killed when a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb in the foyer area of the 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena. The bomb went off as the concert by pop star Ariana Grande ended, and people trooped toward the exits.
Although no terrorist group claimed responsibility immediately after the attack, police said the incident was being investigated as a terrorist attack, according to Newsweek. But ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack.
JUST IN: ISIS claims responsibility for deadly Ariana Grande concert bombing in Manchester, but gives no evidence https://t.co/qRw1XfbBh0— CNN (@CNN) May 23, 2017
Soon after graphic details of the horrific aftermath of the bombing emerged online, social media accounts linked to ISIS supporters came alive with congratulatory messages hailing the deadly attack and expressing support for ISIS. Hundreds of ISIS supporters posted images of the black ISIS flag with the hashtags #ManchesterArena and #ArianaGrande. Many ISIS supports justified the attack as retaliation for British Royal Air Force (RAF) attacks on ISIS bases in Iraq and Syria.
Some pro-ISIS twitter accounts retweeted the first official statement about the bomb attack released by Greater Manchester Police and expressed hope that ISIS was behind the attack.
“We hope that the perpetrator is one of the soldiers of the caliphate.”
A tweet that originated from an ISIS-linked Twitter account had appeared to predict the attack.
“This is the just terror,” read the tweet posted at about 6: 32 p.m., a few hours before the explosion, according to the Daily Mail.
Some ISIS supporters posted banners with a message referencing previous lone wolf attacks in Belgium and France and linked them with the Manchester attack.
“The beginning is in Brussels and Paris, and in London we form a state.”
A video uploaded online appeared to show a masked man, allegedly an ISIS supporter, praising the terror attack.
“This is only the beginning. The lions of the Islamic State are beginning to attack all the crusaders.”
A post to Twitter by an ISIS supporter, Abdul Haqq, highlighted by Search International Terrorist Entities Intelligence Group (SITE), urged more terrorist attacks in “Britain and England and Manchester and U.K. and Britain.”
“It seems that bombs of the British air force over children of Mosul and Raqqa has just come back to Manchester, England. Kill him everywhere, Britain and England and Manchester and UK and Britain.”
After Twitter had suspended several ISIS-linked accounts, jubilant supporters moved to Telegram and other secured messaging sites to continue celebrations.
ISIS fans celebrate Manchester terror attack online https://t.co/jZSJcoWwC4— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) May 23, 2017
After highlighting several pro-ISIS messages on Telegram celebrating the attack, Michael Smith, a terrorism analyst, concluded that the reaction by the online pro-ISIS network was a “strong indicator” of ISIS involvement in the attack.
This is not the first time that ISIS supporters have trooped to social media and other online messaging forums to celebrate deadly attacks targeted against civilians in the West.
ISIS twitter lit up with celebrations after the attacks in London near Westminster in March.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the March attack.
Soon after the attack on the U.K’s Parliament, the U.S. military admitted that it had earlier carried out an airstrike in Mosul in which more than 200 civilians, including women and children, might have died.
The U.S. military reportedly responded to a request by the Iraqi military for air strikes to take out ISIS snipers occupying buildings in the city. The response on March 13 reportedly leveled an entire city block, including houses packed with civilians hiding in rooms and basements to avoid fighting in the streets around them, according to the Independent.
Journalists who visited the site before the Iraqi authorities banned them said at least 50 bodies were taken out of the rubble soon after the attack. Some reported seeing mangled bodies of a pregnant woman and children being recovered from the bombed-out site.
Locals estimated that up to 240 people might have been killed in the attack.
[Featured Image by Rui Vieira/AP Images]