ISIS Attacks Worldwide Declined Since 2019, But African Provinces Show Increase

    On January 9, 2022, the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Amaq News Agency published an infographic listing all attacks carried out by the group in 2021. The infographic claimed that ISIS fighters carried out 2,748 operations worldwide, resulting in a total of 8,039 casualties.[1]

    Methodology

    MEMRI JTTM investigated the above figures by totaling the number of attacks claimed by ISIS in its official weekly newsletter, Al-Naba'. To expand our analysis and provide contextual reference, we reviewed not only newsletter issues released in 2021, but all issues released since January 2019. In total, we reviewed 157 issues of the weekly newsletter, determining that since January 2019, ISIS has carried out at least 9,194 attacks globally. However, we did not corroborate the attacks claimed by ISIS with local reporting.[2] As such, our figures represent an estimated total of ISIS attacks within the reporting period; they do not constitute a comprehensive review of all attacks since January 2019.

    Key Findings

    The Islamic State (ISIS) remains a destabilizing force globally

    Over the last three years, the terrorist organization has carried out attacks across a vast swath of territory, killing and wounded tens of thousands of people.

    Between January 2019 to December 2021, ISIS claimed a total of 9,194 attacks resulting in 31,821 casualties.

    - These attacks took place in at least 23 countries spanning three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.

    - On average, ISIS fighters launched about 59 attacks per week, resulting in 203 weekly deaths and injuries, what amounts to approximately 3 casualties per attack.

    - ISIS conducted a minimum of 28 attacks every week, claiming no fewer than 54 weekly deaths and injuries.

    - Conversely, in some weeks, ISIS claimed as many as 158 attacks and 1,175 casualties.

    Such figures illustrate the ongoing threat posed by ISIS, despite the loss of its territorial "Caliphate."

    While posing an ongoing threat, trend analysis indicates global ISIS operations are on a downtrend

    ISIS's operational tempo has slowed since 2017, as evidenced by a gradual decrease in attacks over a narrowing geographic area.

    - Annual ISIS attacks have declined by about 22 percent, from 3,461 in 2019 to 2,700 in 2021.

    - The number of provinces and countries in which ISIS conducted attacks decreased from 20 in 2019 to 13 in 2021.

    - The number of ISIS attacks in Syria and Yemen have decreased dramatically. Attacks in Syria dropped by 66 percent, from 1,055 in 2019 to 359 in 2021. Meanwhile in Yemen, ISIS operations zeroed out, decreasing from 86 attacks in 2019 to 0 in 2021.

    - Attacks in other notable ISIS provinces, including Iraq, Sinai, Somalia, Pakistan, and East Asia, have also declined.

    ChartDescription automatically generated

    Some ISIS provinces show uptick in attacks despite declining global operations

    The gradual decrease in global ISIS attacks has not been uniform across all operational theatres. Attacks in some regions, such as central and west Africa, have increased in lieu of the wider trend.

    - Annual ISIS attacks in west Africa have increased by about 96 percent, from 247 in 2019 to 483 in 2021. Accordingly, the province ascended from fourth in total attacks in 2019 to second in 2021.

    - Meanwhile, the number of ISIS attacks in central Africa has risen by approximately 219 percent, boosting the province from eighth to fifth among ISIS's provinces in terms of total attacks.

    - ISIS fighters in Afghanistan rebounded in 2021 after a 76 percent decrease in ISIS attacks over the previous two years.

    Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

    West Africa, as denoted by ISIS, primarily refers to Nigeria, but also includes Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. ISIS's Central Africa province includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. East Asia refers to ISIS's province in the Philippines. Other provinces and countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, the Caucasus, Europe, India, Indonesia, Libya, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.

    Global casualties resulting from ISIS attacks are declining in-line with attack numbers, but some ISIS provinces are becoming more lethal despite wider trends

    - In line with a gradual decline in ISIS attacks, annual ISIS-induced casualties have decreased by about 43 percent, from 14,211 in 2019 to 8,151 in 2021.

    - ISIS fighters killed or injured 2,209 Afghans in 2021 – the most of any nationality. This, despite ISIS claiming fewer attacks in Afghanistan than in Iraq and west Africa.

    - While ISIS attacks in Afghanistan were the most lethal in 2021, ISIS fighters in Iraq have been the most consistently deadly, killing or injuring an average of 51 Iraqis per week since January 2019.

    - ISIS fighters in central Africa have also claimed a 107 percent increase in annual casualties since 2019.

    Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated

    West Africa, as denoted by ISIS, primarily refers to Nigeria, but also includes Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. ISIS's Central Africa province includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. East Asia refers to ISIS's province in the Philippines. Other provinces and countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, the Caucasus, Europe, India, Indonesia, Libya, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.


    [1] Telegram, Tamkin, January 9, 2022.

    [2] MEMRI did not cross-check ISIS-reported attack and casualty figures with local media outlets to confirm or disprove ISIS's claims.

    SOURCE: MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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