The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (March 31 – April 6, 2022)

    Main events of the past week
    • In Syria and Iraq, ISIS’s relatively low-intensity activity continued this week. One noteworthy incident in Syria was an attack by ISIS operatives against Syrian and Hezbollah positions near the T-4 military airfield. At least nine fighters were killed and several others were wounded, some of them seriously.
    • The Sinai Peninsula: Egypt announced that it had extended for another six months the presidential decree indicating a special security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. This week, ISIS continued its terrorist activity, concurrently with attempts to thwart this activity by the Egyptian army and the forces supporting it.
    • Africa: In Nigeria, this week ISIS’s attacks were concentrated in the Malam Fatori region in northeastern Nigeria, near the border with Niger. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, attacks on Christian civilians were concentrated in the Beni region, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. In Mali, ISIS operatives attacked groups of operatives of the national movement for the liberation of Azawad, near the Mali-Niger border. Over 100 operatives of the movement were killed, including a senior commander.
    • ISIS’s media outlets continue to release videos documenting operatives pledging allegiance to the new leader in ISIS’s various provinces.
    • Following two ISIS-inspired attacks in Israel (in Beersheba and Hadera), sources in the Israeli defense establishment estimate that there are currently around 200 Arab citizens of Israel who are affiliated with ISIS’s ideology. To combat this situation, the security forces are carrying out intensive intelligence activity in order to identify these elements.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly devoted a central place in this week’s issue to the attack in Hadera. The article refers to the two terrorists from Umm al Fahm as “soldiers of the [ISIS] Caliphate” who carried out a “combined raid and sacrifice attack.” The article calls for incitement against the Jews and for additional terrorist attacks in Israel. Another article in the issue claims that the Muslims’ war against the Jews is purely religious and not nationalistic.
    • Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri appeared in a video produced by Al-Sahab, Al-Qaeda’s media arm. In the video, he attacks the Indian government’s attitude towards Muslim women in the context of their being forbidden to wear the Islamic head covering (hijab).
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)
    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)
    The Idlib region
    • Three boys were killed by rockets fired at the northern part of the rebel enclave in Idlib by Syrian army forces (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 4, 2022). On March 31, 2022, it was reported that trucks loaded with humanitarian aid arrived in the rebel enclave through the Saraqib crossing, which is controlled by the Syrian army (Orient TV, March 31, 2022).
    One of the aid trucks that arrived in Idlib (Orient TV, March 31, 2022)
    One of the aid trucks that arrived in Idlib (Orient TV, March 31, 2022)
    The desefrt region (Al-Badia)
    • In the desert region, ISIS mainly attacked targets of the Syrian army and pro-Iranian militias:
    • On April 3, 2022, ISIS attacked a pro-Iranian militia roadblock at the entrance to Al-Sukhnah, about 120 km southwest of Deir ez-Zor. Two militia fighters were killed in the exchange of fire and eight were wounded (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 3, 2022).
    • On April 2, 2022, persons unknown (probably ISIS operatives) attacked at the same time three posts of the Syrian army and Hezbollah near the T-4 military airfield. At least nine fighters were killed and several others were wounded, some of them severely. The ISIS operatives seized two vehicles equipped with machine guns, weapons and ammunition (Syria TV, April 2, 2022; Al-Modon, April 2, 2022).
    • Russian fighter jets carried out 30 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the Al-Sukhnah Desert (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 2, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen
    • ISIS operatives fired at SDF fighters in Hajin, about 50 km southeast of Al-Mayadeen. One SDF fighter was killed and two others were wounded (Telegram, April 5, 2022). According to local sources, the attackers arrived on the scene by motorcycle, fired at the group of fighters, killed one and wounded two others severely (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 5, 2022).
    • According to local sources in the northern Deir ez-Zor Province, ISIS demanded from business owners and dealers in the region to pay taxes collected for the ruler (al-Kulfa al-Sultaniya). ISIS operatives in the area distributed leaflets, warning the residents that they will be punished if they refuse to pay the tax (Jisr, April 4, 2022).
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    According to senior officials in Iraqi Kurdistan, ISIS is trying to exploit the area between the region controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the territories controlled by the Iraqi army. The control in that area is shaky, and this is where ISIS seeks to focus its terrorist activity. According to those sources, recently there have been two attempts to abduct shepherds in the village region in the northern Diyala Province (Sawt al-Iraq, April 5, 2022).

    Attacks by province[1]
    Diyala Province
    • On March 30, 2022, an IED was activated against a Tribal Mobilization fighter in Al-Islah, about 75 km northeast of Baqubah. He was wounded.
    Salah al-Din Province
    • On April 2, 2022, two Iraqi army “spies” were targeted by gunfire in the Mashahida region, about 20 km north of Baghdad. They were wounded.
    Nineveh Province
    • On April 4, 2022, four soldiers were wounded in an Iraqi army operation against ISIS squads in the southwestern Nineveh Province when an ISIS suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt. Four ISIS tunnels were reportedly located in the operation (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Facebook page, April 4, 2022).
    Sinai Peninsula
    • Egypt announced the extension in additional six months of the presidential decree indicating a special security situation to cope with the terrorist threat in the Sinai Peninsula. The extension, which has been approved by Egypt’s parliament, signifies the continuation of the emergency laws in the Sinai Peninsula and the continued reinforcement of the security measures in the region (Al-Sharq, April 4, 2022).
    ISIS’s activity
    • On April 3, 2022, a civilian was killed and two others were wounded in an attack carried out by armed men, probably ISIS operatives, against a house south of Bir al-Abd, in the northern Sinai Peninsula (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 4, 2022).
    • On April 3, 2022, ISIS’s Sinai Province announced that it had killed a Sinai Tribal Union fighter west of Bir al-Abd and seized his weapon (Telegram, April 3, 2022). The day before, in the same area, one man was killed and two others were wounded in an attack by armed men, probably ISIS operatives (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 2, 2022).
    • On April 1, 2022, an Egyptian soldier was killed by sniper fire in the Al-Buhaira region, near Bir al-Abd (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 1, 2022).
    • On April 1, 2022, ISIS operatives killed two civilians on suspicion of collaboration with the Egyptian security forces (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, April 2, 2022).
    Counterterrorism activity
    • During a joint operation of the Egyptian army and tribal forces supporting it, in Al-Muqata’a, south of Sheikh Zuweid, Sinai Tribal Union forces killed an armed man (apparently an ISIS operative) and detained another (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 4, 2022).
    • On April 3, 2022, a Sinai Tribal Union force neutralized an IED in Bir al-Abd (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 3, 2022).
    A Sinai Tribal Union fighter neutralizing the IED (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 3, 2022)
    A Sinai Tribal Union fighter neutralizing the IED (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, April 3, 2022)
    Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
    • An infographic published by ISIS summing up its activity around the world between March 24 and March 30, 2022, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 45 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 53 last week. The largest number of attacks was carried out in the West Africa Province (23). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Iraq (6); Sinai (5); Central Africa (4); Syria (3); Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (1); East Asia (1); the Al-Sahel Province (1); and Pakistan (1). One attack carried out in Palestine was also mentioned (referring to the attack in the city of Hadera, Israel). According to the infographic, a total of 142 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 376 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the West Africa Province (85). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Palestine (12)[2]; Iraq (10); Central Africa (10); Sinai (10); Al-Sahel (8); Syria (4); Khorasan (2); and East Asia (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022).
    Infographic detailing ISIS’s attacks (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    Infographic detailing ISIS’s attacks (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)

    ISIS activity in Africa[3]

    Nigeria
    • This week, ISIS mainly operated in the Malam Fatori region, the Nigeria-Niger border area, in northeastern Nigeria. Following are noteworthy incidents (based on ISIS reports):
    • On April 2, 2022, a Nigerian army patrol was targeted by gunfire. One soldier was killed and several others were wounded.
    Exchange of fire between ISIS operatives and a Nigerian army patrol in the town of Malam Fatori in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, April 4, 2022)
    Exchange of fire between ISIS operatives and a Nigerian army patrol in the town of Malam Fatori in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, April 4, 2022)
    Exchange of fire between ISIS operatives and a Nigerian army patrol in the town of Malam Fatori in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, April 4, 2022)
    Exchange of fire between ISIS operatives and a Nigerian army patrol in the town of Malam Fatori in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, April 4, 2022)


    On April 1, 2022, Nigerian army posts were targeted by gunfire. According to ISIS, the posts were damaged and the soldiers fled.

    • On March 31, 2022, bombs were fired at a Nigerian army base. According to ISIS, a definite hit was identified.
    • On March 29, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base. Subsequently, a Nigerian army force and militias supporting it were attacked. Six soldiers and militia fighters were killed, and several dozens were wounded.
    Additional incidents
    • On April 4, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in Sabon Gari, in northeastern Nigeria. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On April 3, 2022, an IED was activated against a vehicle of one of the militias loyal to the Nigerian army, on the Damboa-Azir road, in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    • On April 2, 2022, forces of militias loyal to the Nigerian army were targeted by gunfire in Auno, in northeastern Nigeria, about 100 km southwest of Lake Chad. The fighters fled.
    • On April 2, 2022, at least four fishermen from the Lake Chad area, on the Nigeria-Chad border, were executed, probably on suspicion of collaborating with local authorities.
    • On April 2, 2022, there were exchanges of fire with a joint force of the Nigerian and Nigerien armies in Tambala, northeastern Nigeria. During the fighting, an ISIS suicide bomber codenamed Abu Abdullah al-Ansari detonated a car bomb. Several soldiers were killed and wounded, and two armored vehicles were destroyed (Telegram, April 4, 2022).
    • On April 1, 2022, an IED was activated against an African Union convoy on the Wulgo-Gajiram road in Borno State, Northeastern Nigeria. Two fighters were killed and another was wounded.
    • On March 30, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army vehicle in Baga, about 25 km west of the Nigeria-Cameroon-Chad tri-border area. On April 1, an IED was activated against a vehicle in the same area. The vehicles were destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    • On March 28, 2022, IEDs were activated against a Nigerian army convoy on the Sabon Gari-Wajiroko road, in northeastern Nigeria. One vehicle was destroyed and several soldiers were killed or wounded.
    • On March 28, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army foot patrol near its base in Guza, in northeastern Nigeria. Several soldiers were killed or wounded.
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • On April 3, 2022, the Christian village of Masambo, in the Beni region, was attacked. A total of 12 village residents were killed and their homes were set on fire. ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a Congolese army patrol that arrived on the scene. An officer was killed.
    • On April 3, 2022, a Congolese army patrol was targeted by gunfire near Monda, in the Beni region, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. One soldier was killed.
    • On April 2, 2022, the Christian village of Idoho was targeted by gunfire. Six residents were killed. The village is situated in the Ituri region, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border.
    • On March 27, 2022, Christian residents in Lusilusi, in the Beni region, were ambushed. Five people were killed.
    Mali

    ISIS’s attacks against the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad

    • During the week, there were several attacks against the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (a national movement of the Tuareg tribes in Mali), in several villages near the Mali-Niger border. A total of about 130 members of the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad were killed, including the movement commander in one of the villages. ISIS operatives took over one of the villages and seized vehicles, weapons and ammunition (Telegram, February 4, 2022).
    Counterterrorism activity
    • According to Malian authorities, in an operation conducted in late March 2022 in Moura, central Mali, soldiers killed 203 Islamic militants (apparently, ISIS or Al-Qaeda operatives) and detained 51 others. They also seized weapons in their possession (DW and Reuters, April 2, 2022).
    • The activity took place following an increase, since late May 2021, in the number of incidents where civilians were killed by operatives of armed Islamic organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and ISIS. An investigation of the above by Human Rights Watch revealed that Malian army forces, supported by foreign soldiers whom several sources identified as Russian, carried out numerous executions as part of the operation (Human Rights Watch, April 5, 2022).
    Somalia
    • On April 4, 2022, a Somali police post was targeted by gunfire in Mogadishu. One policeman was killed and his weapon was seized.
    Libya
    • ISIS’s Libya Province released a video documenting the province operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s new leader. The masked speaker appearing in the video, whose codename is Abu Thabet al-Muhajer, calls on Muslims to join jihad and support ISIS in its media network (Telegram, March 30, 2022).
    Pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s new leader (Telegram, March 30, 2022)
    Pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s new leader (Telegram, March 30, 2022) 
    The speaker in the video calls on Muslims around the world to join jihad and ISIS’s media network.
    The speaker in the video calls on Muslims around the world to join jihad and ISIS’s media network (Telegram, March 30, 2022)

    The Central Africa Province has pledged allegiance to ISIS’s leader
    • ISIS’s Central Africa Province has released a video documenting its operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s new leader. A speaker in the video, speaking in the local language, expresses hope that the world will be ruled by Islamic law (sharia) and emphasizes that killing ISIS’s leaders will not stop the jihadist war that it is waging (Telegram, April 1, 2022).
    The pledge of allegiance (Telegram, April 1, 2022).
    Left: The pledge of allegiance (Telegram, April 1, 2022).
    The speaker in the video expressing hope that the world will be ruled by Islamic law.
    The speaker in the video expressing hope that the world will be ruled by Islamic law. 
    Asia
    • ISIS’s East Asia Province has released a video documenting its operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s new leader. A masked man speaking fluent Arabic, codenamed Abdel Rahman, states that operatives of the East Asia Province, especially those operating in the Philippines, are in excellent condition, despite the difficulties, and have remained loyal to ISIS’s path. He calls on Muslims around the globe to join ISIS (Telegram, April 3, 2022).
    The pledge of allegiance (Telegram, April 3, 2022)
    The pledge of allegiance (Telegram, April 3, 2022)
    The speaker in the video speaking.
    Right: The speaker in the video speaking. (Telegram, April 3, 2022)
    Afghanistan
    • On April 2, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. The vehicle was put out of commission and the passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, April 2, 2022).
    • On April 1, 2022, IEDs were activated against a gathering of Shiites in Herat, in western Afghanistan. At least 30 Shiites were killed or wounded (Telegram, April 2, 2022).
    The Philippines
    • This week’s issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly included an article claiming that on March 9, 2022, ISIS operatives shot a militia fighter of the Moro Liberation Movement (a nationalistic movement in the southern Philippines) in Inaldan, in the Mindanao region, in the southern Philippines. The fighter was killed and his weapon was seized by ISIS operatives (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022). The delay in publishing the news could indicate communication problems between the East Asia Province and ISIS’s central media network in Syria and Iraq.
    The article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly. The photo shows the rifle seized by ISIS operatives (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    The article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly. The photo shows the rifle seized by ISIS operatives (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    New video of Al-Qaeda’s leader on the subject of head coverings (hijab)
    • Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri appeared in a video produced by Al-Sahab, Al-Qaeda’s media arm. In the video, he attacks the Indian government’s attitude towards Muslim women in the context of their being forbidden to wear the Islamic head covering (hijab). In the nine-minute video, Al-Zawahiri takes advantage of the ban in India to criticize the policies of other countries that are taking steps to forbid women from wearing the hijab, led by China (Akhbar al-Aan, April 6, 2022).

    Europe

    Germany
    • A group of 10 wives and 27 children of ISIS operatives who hold German citizenship were repatriated to Germany from the Roj camp in the Al-Hasakah governorate in northern Syria, where they had been held by the Kurdish SDF forces. Four of the women were arrested upon landing in Germany. One of them holds Moroccan citizenship in addition to German citizenship (DW, March 31, 2022).
    Counterterrorism activity
    Israel
    • Following two ISIS-inspired attacks in Israel (in the cities of Beersheba and Hadera), sources in the Israeli defense establishment estimate that there are currently around 200 Arab citizens of Israel who are affiliated with ISIS’s ideology. About 20 of them are designated immediate risk operatives liable to take part in terrorist activity on behalf of ISIS and carry out an attack in Israeli territory. Israeli security officials are conducting intensive intelligence activities to locate those elements. To date, six administrative detention orders have been issued against citizens affiliated with ISIS. The same sources believe that videos disseminated on social media have a huge impact on the motivation of those operatives (Haaretz Israeli daily, April 4, 2022). Israel Police reported the arrest of 12 ISIS supporters in the Wadi Ara region in northern Israel (Israel Police Spokesperson’s Office, March 29, 2022).

    The battle for hearts and minds

    • ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly devoted a central place in its weekly issue to the attack in Hadera[4]. The article refers to the two terrorists from Umm al Fahm as “soldiers of the [ISIS] Caliphate” who carried out a “combined raid and sacrifice attack.” The article also notes that the attack took place several days after the attack in Beersheba and that the Israeli security establishment failed to prevent it, even though the perpetrator of the attack had been arrested in the past due to his desire to join ISIS in Syria. The article also notes that the attack took place in light of the summit conference in the Negev, where the “tyrants of the Jews” met with the foreign ministers of the Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt, who were quick to condemn the attack (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022).
    The lead article on terrorist attacks in Israel (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    The lead article on terrorist attacks in Israel (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    The headline about the attack in Hadera.
    Right: The headline about the attack in Hadera. (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    • The lead article of the issue was entitled “Our war with the Jews is purely Islamic.” The author claims that the war waged by the Muslims against the Jews is purely religious and not nationalistic. The author includes quotations from the Quran and Islamic tradition (hadith) in order to support this claim.
    • According to the author, the Palestinian organizations, which are funded by Iran, consider the war as a purely nationalistic war, and try to divest it of any Islamic character. Moreover, Muslim elements hostile to ISIS claim that ISIS’s Islamic State is not fighting against the Jews because it does not want to, whereas governments, alliances, organizations and militias have worked together to prevent the soldiers of the Caliphate and their units from reaching “Palestine” or points of contact with Jews. Finally, the author addresses “young people in Palestine and its environs,” calling on them to shake off the dust and remove the loss of the (nationalistic) way, and instead strengthen their Islamic affiliation around the concept of loyalty to the faith and the believers, and cut themselves off from the infidels (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022).
    The text of the lead article in Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    The text of the lead article in Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)

    A source apparently affiliated with ISIS’s Khorasan Province and codenamed Bazgasht Khelafat (in Persian, whose local dialects are also used in Afghanistan, this means the return of the caliphate) published a poster showing the terrorists in Beersheba and Hadera with text in Arabic in the background. The text is taken from ISIS’s claim of responsibility for the attack in Hadera: “This is so that the infidel Jews know that the promises [to attack and kill them] will reach them, sooner or later, with the help of Allah” (Telegram, March 30, 2022).

    The poster disseminated by an ISIS-affiliated element codenamed Bazgasht Khelafat, which means the return of the caliphate in Persian and various dialects in Afghanistan (Telegram, March 30, 2022)
    The poster disseminated by an ISIS-affiliated element codenamed Bazgasht Khelafat, which means the return of the caliphate in Persian and various dialects in Afghanistan (Telegram, March 30, 2022)


    Another article in the issue devoted to the month of Ramadan refers to it as “Jihad in Conquests”, and as a month in which anyone who can do so should donate money for the sake of jihad. The article ends with a poster encouraging hatred and violence against the Jews, which includes a quote from an anti-Semitic Islamic hadith, according to which the resurrection will not occur until the Muslims have fought the Jews and killed them (Al-Naba’, Telegram, March 31, 2022).

    Poster encouraging hatred and violence against the Jews (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)
    ‌‌Poster encouraging hatred and violence against the Jews‌‌(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, March 31, 2022)

    [1] Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [2] The number of casualties mentioned by ISIS is inaccurate. ↑
    [3] Mainly according to ISIS's claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [4] The weekly does not explicitly refer to the attack in Beersheba as an attack carried out by an ISIS operative, despite the fact that it also appears to have been an ISIS-inspired attack since the two terrorists from Hadera had pledged allegiance to ISIS's leader.

    SOURCE: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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