The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 3-9, 2022)

    Main events of the past week
    • The main event of the week was a multi-casualty suicide bombing attack carried out by operatives of ISIS’s Khorasan Province in a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. A total of 63 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded. According to an announcement by ISIS’s Pakistan Province, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest among Pakistani soldiers and policemen who were securing an annual event attended by Pakistani government officials. At least five military personnel were killed in the attack.
    • Syria: 13 soldiers were killed and 18 others were wounded east of Palmyra when their bus was attacked by armed men, apparently ISIS operatives.
    • Iraq: Relatively sparse ISIS activity was detected this week as well, most of which took place in the Al-Anbar Province.
    • The Sinai Peninsula: According to eyewitness reports, armed men, apparently ISIS operatives, attacked the headquarters of the Egyptian army’s 101st Battalion in Al-Arish. Several soldiers were killed or wounded. Official Egyptian sources have denied the report.
    • Africa: The epicenter continued to be northeastern Nigeria, where a relatively large number of attacks were carried out, mainly against the security forces. In Mali, operatives affiliated with ISIS or Al-Qaeda attacked an army base in the center of the country. Dozens of soldiers were killed. The French army announced the killing of a senior Al-Qaeda operative in Mali. In Somalia, the United States reportedly carried out an airstrike against a target of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab movement. The airstrike was carried out after a series of suicide bombing attacks carried out by all ISIS operatives in Mogadishu.
    • The US Department of the Treasury has designated four major ISIS funding sources in Africa, who work for ISIS’s branches in Syria, Iraq and Mozambique. This is further evidence of the funding ties between ISIS’s central leadership in Syria and Iraq and its branches in Africa.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, jihadist elements affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaeda have expressed their satisfaction with the fact that Christians are fighting against each other. ISIS-affiliated sources have even called on ISIS supporters in Russia and Ukraine to take advantage of the situation and attack local Christians. The lead article in this week’s issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was also devoted to the war in Ukraine. The author calls on Muslims around the globe not to support either side, but rather to adhere to Islam.
    Pakistan
    • On March 4, 2022, a suicide bombing attack was carried out at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, about 40 km from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The attack was carried out by an ISIS operative codenamed Jalib al-Kabuli (i.e., from Kabul) who wore an explosive belt and was armed with a rifle. The perpetrator arrived at the mosque during Friday prayers, when it was crowded with worshipers. First, he killed the two guards stationed at the entrance to the mosque, then he broke into the mosque where he blew himself up among the worshipers. According to a Reuters report, the attack was carried out by two operatives who fired at the mosque, after which one of them entered the mosque and blew himself up (Reuters, March 4, 2022). According to reports, 63 people were killed and about 200 others were wounded in the attack (AP, March 5, 2022).
    • ISIS’s Khorasan Province[1] claimed responsibility for the attack on a “temple” in Pakistan. According to the claim of responsibility, despite the many security measures taken by the Taliban and the Pakistani police, ISIS operatives have repeatedly managed to attack houses of worship and centers used by the Shiites in Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to ISIS, at least 50 people were killed and at least 200 others were wounded (Telegram, March 4, 2022).
    The scene of the attack (Jadidha YouTube channel, March 4, 2022)
    The suicide bomber before leaving to carry out the attack (Telegram, March 4, 2022).


    Right: The suicide bomber before leaving to carry out the attack (Telegram, March 4, 2022). Left: The scene of the attack (Jadidha YouTube channel, March 4, 2022)

    • ISIS’s Pakistan Province announced that an ISIS suicide bomber, Abd al-Rahman al-Pakistani, detonated his explosive vest among Pakistani military personnel and policemen who were securing an annual event attended by Pakistani government officials in Sibi, in the Balochistan region of southwestern Pakistan. At least five military and police personnel were killed and more than 25 were wounded in the attack, some of them seriously (Telegram, March 8, 2022). According to Pakistani police, this was not a suicide bombing attack, but rather a roadside bomb explosion. They claim that three people were killed and 28 others were wounded in the attack, most of them policemen (ABC News, March 8, 2022).
    The suicide bomber before leaving to carry out the attack (Telegram, March 8, 2022)


    The suicide bomber before leaving to carry out the attack (Telegram, March 8, 2022)

    The Syrian arena
    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)


    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)

    The desert region (Al-Badia)
    • On March 4, 2022, a bus carrying Syrian soldiers was attacked by armed men, apparently ISIS operatives, east of Palmyra. A total of 15 soldiers were killed and 18 others were wounded (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, March 6, 2022). Three Syrian soldiers were also killed in another attack by armed men, apparently ISIS operatives, in the eastern desert region of Palmyra (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, March 4, 2022).
    • In response, Russian planes attacked ISIS targets in the desert region of the Al-Raqqah Province (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, March 4-5, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region
    • ISIS operatives waved the organization’s flag in the Al-Hal open market in Dhiban (about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen). According to a local source, this created panic among the residents and they reported it to the SDF forces (Jisr, March 5, 2022).
    Al-Raqqah region
    • An IED was activated against an SDF bulldozer in west Al-Raqqah. It was put out of commission and the Kurdish fighter on board was wounded (Telegram, March 8, 2022).
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)


    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    Attacks by province[2]

    Al-Anbar Province
    • On March 4, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army patrol east of Rawa. One soldier was killed and three others were wounded.
    • On March 3, 2022, several attacks were carried out on the international highway leading to Jordan and Syria, about 100 km east of Al-Al-Rutba: An Iraqi army vehicle was ambushed and shot at, and the passengers on board were wounded; An Iraqi army camp was attacked. The soldiers reportedly fled. Another attack was carried out against a vehicle. It was damaged.
    Salah al-Din Province
    • On March 4, 2022, an Iraqi army post in north Tikrit was targeted by gunfire. One soldier was killed.

    Counterterrorism activity

    Salah al-Din Province
    • An Iraqi Air Force aircraft killed two ISIS operatives in the Samarra region (Al-Sumaria, March 8, 2022).
    Kirkuk Province
    • The Iraqi security forces located a large quantity of ISIS weapons in the Hawija region, about 60 km southwest of Kirkuk. They included mortar shells, a locally manufactured rocket, and a large quantity of magazines and rifle bullets (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Facebook page, March 4, 2022).
    Sinai Peninsula
    ISIS’s activity
    • According to eyewitness reports, on March 7, 2022, armed men dressed in Egyptian army uniforms, apparently ISIS operatives, attacked the headquarters of the Egyptian army’s 101st Battalion in Al-Arish (northern Sinai Peninsula). Several soldiers were killed and wounded. Official Egyptian sources denied this but confirmed that two explosions had been heard in the Al-Arish region, without mentioning the reason for those explosions (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, March 7, 2022).
    • On February 27, 2022, an IED was activated against an Egyptian army bulldozer near Al-Tuffaha, south of Bir al-Abd. It was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, March 2, 2022).
    Counterterrorism and preventive activity
    • Two operatives of ISIS’s Sinai Branch were killed and a third was wounded in exchanges of fire with a joint force of the Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union south of Rafah (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, March 8, 2022).
    Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
    • An infographic published by ISIS summing up its activity around the world between February 24 and March 2, 2022, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 39 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 35 last week. The largest number of attacks was carried out by ISIS’s West Africa Province (16). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Syria (7); Iraq (5); Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (2); Somalia (2); Sinai (1); and Central Africa (6). A total of 78 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 108 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the West Africa Province (51). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Syria (14); Iraq (7); Somalia (3); Sinai (2); and Khorasan (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022).
    ISIS’s attacks around the globe (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)


    ISIS’s attacks around the globe (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)

    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)

    ISIS activity in Africa[3]

    The US Department of the Treasury designated four ISIS funding entities in Africa

    The US Department of the Treasury designated four ISIS sources of funding in Africa. The sources, two of whom are from South Africa, worked for ISIS’s branches in Syria and Iraq (its leadership center) and for its branch in Mozambique. The four financiers, whose center of activity is in South Africa, are key elements in the network of funding ties between ISIS in Syria and Iraq and its branches in Africa. According to the US Department of the Treasury, Farhad Hoomer, Siraj Miller, Abdella Hussein Abadigga and Peter Charles Mbaga took advantage of the South African banking system to fund ISIS, including its branches in Africa (www.longwarjournal.org, March 7, 2022). This is further evidence of the funding ties between ISIS’s central leadership in Syria and Iraq and its branches in Africa.

    Summary of the activity of ISIS’s West Africa Province
    • ISIS published an infographic summing up the activity of its West Africa Province between February 19 and March 2, 2022. According to the infographic, during the period in question, the province carried out 16 terrorist attacks, killing and wounding 51 people: 47 Nigerian soldiers and four Christian militia fighters. The attacks took the following forms: activation of IEDs (10); assault and exchanges of fire (3); ambushes (2); and targeted killing (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022).
    Summary of ISIS’s attacks in the West Africa Province (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)


    Summary of ISIS’s attacks in the West Africa Province (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)

    Summary of ISIS’s activity in the Sahel
    • ISIS published an additional infographic summing up its activity in the Sahel (attacks carried out by its West Africa Province) between October 19, 2021, and February 17, 2022. According to the infographic, during the period in question, ISIS carried out 11 terrorist attacks in the Sahel region, killing and wounding 204 people: 151 Nigerien soldiers, 36 Al-Qaeda operatives, 7 Burkinan policemen, and 10 Malian soldiers. The attacks took the following forms: assault and exchanges of fire (5); ambushes (5); and targeted killing (1). In these attacks, ISIS destroyed 13 vehicles and seized over 100 rifles, two vehicles, and 24 motorcycles (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022).
    ISIS’s attacks in the Sahel region (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)


    ISIS’s attacks in the Sahel region (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)

    Nigeria

    Attacks
    • On March 7, 2022, a Nigerian army roadblock was targeted by gunfire in Damboa, about 80 km southwest of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. The soldiers fled and ISIS operatives set the roadblock on fire.
    Nigerian army roadblock on fire (Telegram, March 8, 2022)


    Nigerian army roadblock on fire (Telegram, March 8, 2022)

    • On March 6, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a convoy carrying senior Nigerian government figures near Malam Fatori, in the Nigeria-Niger border area. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On March 5, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army camp in Wulgo, on the Nigeria-Cameroon border, in northeastern Nigeria. Definite hits were identified.
    • On March 2, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army foot patrol on the Bama-Mararaba highway, near the Nigeria-Cameroon border, in northeastern Nigeria. Several soldiers were killed or wounded.
    • On March 2, 2022, a Nigerian army camp was attacked in Banqui, in northeastern Nigeria. Several soldiers were wounded.
    • On March 2, 2022, a Nigerian army roadblock was targeted by gunfire in Dikwa, about 50 km from the Nigeria-Cameroon border. After the soldiers fled the scene, ISIS operatives set fire to an armored vehicle and seized two rifles and ammunition.
    • On March 2, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army armored vehicle on the Damboa road in northeastern Nigeria. It was put out of commission, and the passengers on board were wounded.
    • On February 27, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army convoy on the Gudumbali-Kokawa highway in northeastern Nigeria. One armored vehicle was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    Somalia
    • On February 22, 2022, the United States reportedly carried out an airstrike, for the first time since August 2021, against a target of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab movement. The airstrike, against a target situated about 60 km northwest to Mogadishu, was carried out in coordination with the Somalian authorities (www.longwarjournal.org, March 1, 2022). It was in response to a series of suicide bombing attacks by the organization’s operatives in Mogadishu, in an attempt to disrupt the parliamentary elections currently conducted in Somalia.
    Mali
    • On March 4, 2022, hundreds of jihadist operatives apparently affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaeda attacked a Malian army base in the center of the country. A total of 27 soldiers were killed and 33 others were wounded, 21 of them severely. Seven soldiers are missing in action. A total of 47 terrorist operatives were killed in the attack. An additional 23 terrorist operatives were neutralized later. According to a French source, 40-50 soldiers were killed in the attack (France24, March 4, 2022).
    • On February 17, 2022, quite belatedly, ISIS’s West Africa Province claimed responsibility for activity in eastern Mali. According to the claim of responsibility, operatives attacked a Malian army convoy in Tissi, in eastern Mali. Eight soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. Two vehicles were set on fire. ISIS operatives seized a vehicle equipped with a heavy machine gun, various weapons and ammunition (Telegram, March 2, 2022).
    • The French army announced that a French ground force, with air support, had killed Yahia Djouadi, codenamed Abu Amar the Algerian, a senior Al-Qaeda operative in Mali. According to the French announcement, he belonged to the Al-Qaeda branch in the Islamic Maghreb. In 2019, he moved from Libya to central Mali, where he served as a commander (emir). The targeted killing was reportedly carried out on February 25-26, 2022, in central Mali, about 160 km north of Timbuktu (French News Agency, March 7, 2022).
    Mozambique
    • On March 7, 2022, a Mozambican army camp was targeted by gunfire in the Christian town of Nova Zambézia, in the Macomia region in northeastern Mozambique. One soldier was killed. ISIS operatives also set fire to the homes of Christian residents in the town.
    One of the houses in the town going up in flames (Telegram, March 8, 2022)


    One of the houses in the town going up in flames (Telegram, March 8, 2022)

    Morocco
    • Moroccan security forces detained an ISIS operative who allegedly planned to carry out attacks in the country in coordination with terrorist elements outside the country. The detainee reportedly made explosives with the intention of using them to carry out car bomb attacks (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, March 2, 2022).

    Asia

    Afghanistan
    • On March 5, 2022, a Taliban vehicle was ambushed and attacked in the Ghani Khel region of the Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan. A Taliban commander and another person were killed and two others were wounded (Telegram, March 6, 2022).
    • On March 5, 2022, a Taliban member was killed in the Suki region of the Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan (Telegram, March 6, 2022).
    • On March 4, 2022, Taliban members were attacked in a house in the Nadali region of the Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan. Two of them were killed and another was wounded (Telegram, March 6, 2022).
    Assessment of the power of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan
    • Speaking at the International Conference on Regional Cooperation of Central Asian Countries within the framework of the Joint Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov said that Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is still not fully controlled by the Taliban and that ISIS’s power in the country has doubled. According to Voronkov, there is a need for regional cooperation in order to fight these organizations (Sputnik, March 3, 2022).
    The Philippines
    • In an operation by the Philippine security forces, with Philippine air support, the forces raided a camp of ISIS-affiliated terrorist operatives in Lanao del Sur, in the southern Philippines. At least seven terrorist operatives were killed in the raid. Weapons, IEDs and mines were also seized (ABC News, March 3, 2022).
    The battle for hearts and minds
    Comments on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
    • Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, jihadist elements affiliated with ISIS and Al-Qaeda used social media to express their satisfaction with the fact that Christians (“Crusaders”) are fighting against each other and expressed the hope that the two sides will destroy one another. ISIS-affiliated elements also called on its supporters in Russia and Ukraine to take advantage of the situation and attack local Christians (“carry out jihad against the Crusaders”), since these countries are part of the Global Coalition fighting against ISIS (MEMRI, February 28, 2022).
    • The lead article in Al-Naba’ weekly is also devoted to the war in Ukraine. It is entitled “Crusader-Crusader Wars,” meaning wars between Christian countries. The author calls on Muslims around the world not to support either side in the conflict but rather to adhere to Islam, renounce the infidels and understand that these wars are only the beginning. He ends the article with a prayer that Allah will cause the wars between the Christians to continue, and will strike at them and torture them.
    • Following are several points made by the author (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022).
    • In the wake of the extensive destruction caused to the countries of the West (“the Christian infidels”) in the World War, they set up joint organizations and teams to avoid further internal conflicts. They “exported” the struggles, directing them against the Islamic nations.
    • The war in Ukraine is not surprising. It reflects the struggles for control between Russia and the United States over the countries of Eastern Europe. The war in Ukraine is only a prelude to wars among the Christians, and they will only intensify.
    • The author expresses surprise that Chechen Muslims are fighting alongside Russia, but notes that it will become clear to everyone that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is nothing but an apostate fighting on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    • Whatever the consequences and implications of the war, they will change the rules of war and peace in Europe.
    Article on the war in Ukraine (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)


    Article on the war in Ukraine (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 3, 2022)

    • Telegram channels affiliated with HTS, the main organization in the Idlib rebel enclave, shared a video of a Ukrainian businessman from Syria announcing the establishment of a military organization to protect Ukraine from Russia (MEMRI, March 1, 2022).

    [1] It should be noted that ISIS’s Khorasan Province operates in Afghanistan and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, while ISIS’s Pakistan Province operates mainly in the Islamabad region. ↑
    [2] Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [3] Mainly according to ISIS's claims of responsibility posted on Telegram

    SOURCE: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

    Read more posts by this author.