GARWOOD, N.J. — The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, does not shy away from its image as a ruthless al-Qaida splinter group bent on restoring a caliphate, but it “will not allow [its] good name to be besmirched by an association with the state of New Jersey,” says its self-appointed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In a video released by the Sunni extremist group yesterday, al-Baghdadi claimed that banners spotted in New Jersey bearing the Islamic Creed and the historical seal of Muhammad are “nothing more than a false flag, intended to lay the blame for the state’s distinct smell of rot on our shoulders.”
Mark Dunaway, a Garwood resident who converted to Islam over a decade ago, says he flew the so-called “Black Standard” outside of his house without knowledge that it has recently become linked to ISIS.
“I hang it every Friday and every Ramadan, which ended not too long ago, and I keep it up a little longer than I normally do,” said Dunaway. “I guess some people saw it and got offended, so I took it down. I do not support any militant group or anything like that.”
After an investment manager and former Israeli paratrooper tweeted a photo of Dunaway’s flag for the world to see, members of ISIS tasked with monitoring social media quickly issued a response.
“The Islamic State will not be labeled or otherwise boxed in by the Garden State,” read the jihadist organization’s message on Twitter.
An independent investigation conducted by the Associated Press determined that nine out of 10 so-called “Black Flags of Jihad” can be traced back to a single textile factory in New Jersey.
Bernie Silverstein, general manager of Banners-R-Us, acknowledged that he’s developed something of a reputation for being the “Betsy Ross of ISIS.”
Says Silverstein, “No, I don’t agree with the group’s goal or tactics. But I don’t watch Nascar, either, and yet I ship thousands of checkered flags across the country on a daily basis. It’s a bloody business, but business nonetheless.”
ISIS is looking to take its business elsewhere, having already laid the foundation for a flag factory of its own in Tikrit, Iraq.
For his part, Dunaway temporarily replaced the offending flag with one sporting the insignia of the San Diego Chargers.
Said Dennis Allen, coach of the rival Oakland Raiders, Dunaway has just declared “holy war.”