Above: the Euphrates River in Iraq, where Islamic State will be training its Cup team
Islamic State has announced plans to contest the next America’s Cup, to be held in Bermuda in 2017.
A spokesperson for the terror organisation has confirmed that plans are underway to put together a team for the event.
The announcement came via a video released on the internet this morning. In the video a hooded and black-robed man, understood to be the group’s yachting spokesperson Jihadi Colin, spoke of the new venture, and revealed designs for two new America’s Cup boats.
“The time has come for Muslims all around the world to rise up and seize from the unbelievers their precious trophies and cups,” the knife-wielding man said on the video as he held aloft a severed head.
“Allah willing, we will smite these Oracle infidels and all of their support personnel, burn the boats of our other challenger rivals and enslave their wives and children, and drown our enemies in their own blood. “
The video appears to show initial designs for two boats to contest the Cup for the terror group. The boats, named Jihad I and Jihad II, appear to be galleys, each rigged with two square sails and with two banks of rowers. Islamic State has confirmed that the boats will be crewed using a mixture of Jihadi warriors and slaves. What makes this crew setup all the more unusual is the plan to behead the slave rowers at the end of each race.
Jihad II appears to be the more sophisticated of the two vessels. Jihadi Colin confirmed in the video that Jihad II was intended to be the main race boat. From the design of the boat it appears to be best suited to lighter winds, while it also has a strengthened hull in order to carry heavy explosives and a large contingent of suicide bombers.
Legal experts are divided on whether the designs conform to the event’s boats class rules. There is also some concern that Islamic State’s plan to ram Jihad II into competitors during racing and murder opposing crews may amount to a breach of the Protocol for the 2017 Cup.
But Islamic State has rejected these concerns.
“Our holy war against the infidel is within the spirit of the original Deed of Gift,” said Jihadi Colin in the video.
The move by the group into yacht racing has surprised many terrorism experts, as Islamic State has not previously exhibited interest in any form of sport that does not involve decapitation, burning people alive, or dropping homosexuals to their deaths from great heights. Additionally, the territories Islamic State controls in Iraq and Syria are entirely landlocked.
But the move by the Islamic group to contest major sporting events is not entirely without precedent.
Al-Qaeda has had some recent successes in the Formula One competition, including a second-place finish by its driver Mohammed Hussein Ali in last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.
And the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram is in talks with the Australian Rugby League about joining its NRL competition. Boko Haram’s lack of facilities may harm the group’s bid for a place in the competition, but its reputation for thuggery and misogyny is expected to impress league bosses.
Some terror experts predict the move by Islamic State into the America’s Cup may in the end strengthen the group.
“We know that many would-be Jihadis thinking of joining IS are being put off by the thought of all that desert heat and dust, not to mention the millions of flies, and then there’s the prospect of being blown to smithereens by American bombs and missiles,” said Dr Rod Gowliestramp of the Centre for Thinking About Important Things, an institution based in Washington D.C.
“By giving recruits the chance to join in all the glamour, fun and excitement of a big yachting event like the Americas Cup, Islamic State are positioning themselves strategically as a forward-thinking medievalist group.
“This move is bound to attract a number of recruits who also happen to be skilled international sailors.”
There are rumours that Islamic State may have already recruited to its team a top international helmsman.
Dean Barker, the dumped Team New Zealand helmsman, has refused to confirm speculation he will sail for Islamic State.
But a source close to Barker claims Barker turned to Islam during the traumatic later stages of the 2013 Americas Cup, and became radicalised following his brutal dumping from Team New Zealand.
Barker has refused to announce what his future plans are, but has not ruled out a move to another syndicate.
“I’m really gutted to be dropped by Team New Zealand,” Barker told TV3’s Campbell Live show yesterday. “I put so many years of my life into the team, despite their being disgusting defilers of Islam who deserve a thousand deaths.
“And what did I get for all my efforts, apart from fame, millions of dollars, and the chance to do something I loved year after year at the expense of the taxpayer and corporate sponsors?
“Team New Zealand have offered me a new role, but I’m still weighing up my options. I have to do what’s right for me and my family, and I also have an obligation to engage in holy Jihad against Islam’s enemies.
“Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”
Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that New Zealand will provide financial support to Team New Zealand in the next Americas Cup, in an effort to keep Islamic State from winning the event.
He has also confirmed plans for Team New Zealand to assist Team Oracle in the defence of the Cup.
“Obviously we’re concerned by these new developments,” said Mr Key. “These people are murderers and monsters. Can you imagine what they will do to the Cup Protocol if they win in 2017 and move the event to Syria or Northern Iraq?”
He has dismissed claims by yachting experts that Islamic State’s boat designs are primitive and rudimentary and will leave the group with no chance whatsoever of winning the event.
“That’s not the intelligence I’ve received,” said Mr Key. “It’s true that on a normal day any modern fiberglass yacht will breeze past one of these ancient galleys and leave it for dead.
“But what if Islamic State somehow makes it into the final, and the Cup defender then loses its mast in every single finals race? Can we really afford to take that chance?”