The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (November 4 – 10, 2021)
Main events of the past week
- Afghanistan: Afghanistan continues to be the main focus of ISIS’s activities. The most prominent event was its attack on a Taliban camp in the Muhmand Dara region in the Nangarhar Province. Taliban operatives also reported that ISIS operatives had surrendered to them, although the information disseminated by the Taliban is not necessarily accurate, and its objective is to encourage ISIS operatives to surrender.
- In American intelligence assessment, ISIS is determined to intensify its activities in Syria and Iraq. According to a report, since September 2021 ISIS has shown signs of rallying in both countries.
- Syria: ISIS’s activities continue to decline. There were two important events: ISIS operatives were prevented from attacking the al-Sanaa Prison in al-Hasakeh, which is held by Kurdish forces’ and in the Idlib rebel enclave, after several weeks of clashes the Jund Allah accepted the conditions of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Headquarters for the Liberation of al-Sham and agreed to disarm.
- Iraq: ISIS’s attacks continue but with relatively low intensity. Most of its activity this past week focused on the Diyala region.
- Africa: A new commander was appointed for ISIS’s West Africa Province after his two predecessors were killed. The organization’s activity was relatively moderate this past week, with most of its attacks directed against army forces and Christian civilians.
- The battle for hearts and minds: The lead article in al-Nabā’, ISIS’s weekly magazine, was devoted to jihad, its significance as the fight against the “infidels” and the personal duty of every Muslim to wage it.
- This past week ISIS continued its attacks on the Taliban and its collaborators.
- November 7, 2021: An IED was detonated to attack a Taliban vehicle in Jalalabad. Three passengers were killed or wounded. Two days earlier, on November 5, 2021, an IED was also detonated to attack a Taliban vehicle, killing or wounding the passengers.
- November 4, 2021: Two Taliban operatives were killed in Jalalabad.
- November 4, 2021: A Taliban operative was killed in the Kama District of the Nangarhar Province, and ISIS operatives took his weapon.
- November 3, 2021: ISIS attacked a Taliban camp in the Muhmand Dara region in the Nangarhar Province. Two Taliban operatives were killed and four wounded; the camp was damaged.
ISIS issues an infographic about its activity in Afghanistan
- Al-Nabā’, ISIS’s weekly publication, issued an infographic summarizing the activity it carried out in the Khorasan Province (Afghanistan and some territory over the Pakistan border) between October 7 and November 2, 2021. According to the infographic, ISIS-K operatives carried out 43 attacks, killing or wounding 644 people, most of them (501) Shi’ites. In addition, 137 Taliban operatives were killed, including eight senior commanders and six members of the Afghanistan and Pakistan administrations. Three of the attacks were suicide bombing attacks, ten used IEDs, 18 were assassinations, three were raids, eight were shooting attacks targeting vehicles and one was an attack on a high-tension electric pole (“economic warfare”). The infographic features a quote from ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurashi stating that claims the organization had been eradicated were false and asserting that the Khorasan Province continues to strike its enemies (al-Nabā’, Telegram, November 4, 2021).
The infographic as it appeared in al-Nabā’ on November 4, 2021.
ISIS operatives surrender to Taliban forces
- A senior Afghan intelligence officer in the Taliban administration reported that 55 ISIS operatives from the Nangarhar Province has surrendered to the Taliban security forces (al-Andalou News, November 6, 2021). During the past two weeks other ISIS operatives were reported to have surrendered. The information was supplied by the Taliban and may have been biased and intended to encourage other ISIS operatives to surrender to the authorities.
ISIS intensifies its activities in Syria and Iraq.
- According to a report from the United States Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), groups of terrorist operatives in Syria and Iraq may be renewed sources of concern. In DIA assessment, there are currently about 10,000 ISIS operatives in Syria and Iraq. They are organized in small covert cells which move between the two countries and with varying degrees of success, attempt to foster grassroots rebellions,. American military and intelligence sources have expressed concern that ISIS is liable to retake control of territories in both countries, which would give the organization’s leaders greater influence over their operatives and supporters around the globe.
- The report also stated that since September 2021 there has been a slight increase in ISIS activity in Syria and Iraq, especially in the Syrian desert regions, where ISIS has attacked Syrian army forces and the militias supporting them. According to the report, there is proof that ISIS recently transferred operatives from central to northeastern Syria, where the organization is working to extend its activities (VOA, November 5, 2021).
The Syrian arena
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
The Idlib region
- Exchanges of artillery fire continue between the Syrian army (and its supporting forces) and the rebel forces in the Idlib enclave. Russian planes attacked the western area of the enclave. No casualties were reported (Syria Human Rights Observatory, October 6, 2021).
The Headquarters of the Liberation of al-Sham establishes its status in the Idlib region
- After several weeks of violent clashes, the Jund Allah accepted the conditions of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Headquarters of the Liberation of al-Sham and agreed to disarm. The conditions were accepted at a meeting attended by representatives of the aforementioned organizations as well as representatives of other jihadist organizations operating in the area, including those whose operatives come from Eastern Europe, Turkey and Azerbaijan (Syria Human Rights Observatory, October 7, 2021).
The Deir al-Zor-al-Mayadeen region
- November 7, 2021: A Kurdish SDF fighter was shot and killed west of Deir al-Zor.
- November 4, 2021: A vehicle carrying Kurdish SDF fighters was ambushed near the al-Sijan oilfield close to Diban, three kilometers east of al-Mayadeen. Three SDF fighters were killed and the vehicle burned to the ground. The previous day a Kurdish fighter, called a “spy” by ISIS, was shot.
The al-Hasakeh region
- This past week prisoners rioted in the al-Sanaa Prison in al-Hasakeh, where ISIS operatives are held by the Kurdish forces, because an attempt was made to transfer some of them to the al-Shadadi Prison (www.sy-24.com, November 7, 2021). On November 8, 2021, the Kurdish forces prevented ISIS operatives from breaking into the prison. Having received information that ISIS was planning to attack, an elite force was dispatched with air cover from the international anti-ISIS coalition led by the United States. The forces located the ISIS squad in the Deir al-Zor region. One squad operative was killed and two were wounded in an exchange of fire with the Kurdish forces. Four ISIS operatives were detained. The Kurds confiscated a large quantity of weapons. Coalition planes attacked a car bomb (website of the Kurdish internal security forces, November 8, 2021).
Right: The four detained ISIS operatives. Left: The weapons collected during the activity (website of the Kurdish internal security forces, November 8, 2021).
The Iraqi arena
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Attacks by provinces
- November 7, 2021: Two Iraqi army posts, apparently abandoned, were attacked north of the town of Jalawla, about 75 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. An IED was detonated to attack a patrol force that arrived at the site and one of the vehicles was stalled. No casualties were reported.
- November 7, 2021: An Iraqi army vehicle was attacked north of al-Azim, about 60 kilometers north of Baqubah. An officer and soldier were injured.
- November 6, 2021: An Iraqi police post was attacked in the region of al-Waqf, about 15 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. Two policemen were wounded.
- November 4, 2021: An IED was used to attack a vehicle of the tribal mobilization forces in the al-Azim region. The vehicle was destroyed and its passengers killed or wounded. On the same day an IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle. The vehicle was stalled and its passengers wounded.
- November 3, 2021: An IED was used to attack an Iraqi army vehicle in the Hamrin area, about 50 kilometers northwest of Baqubah. The vehicle was stalled, No casualties were reported.
- November 7, 2021: An Iraqi army post near Hit in western Iraq was attacked, and a soldier was killed.
- November 4, 2021: An Iraqi army vehicle was attacked west of al-Rutbah. The vehicle was stalled, its passengers killed or wounded.
Salah al-Din Province
- November 5, 2021: Mortar shells were fired at Iraqi army headquarters west of Tuzkhurmatu, about 100 kilometers northeast of Samara. ISIS claimed it had scored direct hits.
- November 4, 2021: Mortar shells were fired at a concentration of Iraqi police forces on the Kirkuk-Tikrit road.
Counterterrorism measures in Iraq
- During a desert operational activity in the al-Anbar Province, Iraqi security forces killed three ISIS operatives. One of them was Omar al-Isawi, responsible for preparing car bombs for ISIS in the al-Anbar Province. He was known to have been responsible for dispatching at least one car bomb driven by a suicide bomber (al-Sumaria, November 6, 2021).
- Iraqi security forces detained 24 clansmen, ISIS operatives who tried to infiltrate Iraq from Syria. They were detected by thermal cameras installed along the border (al-Sumaria, November 6, 2021).
The Sinai Peninsula
- Two Egyptian army soldiers were killed and two others wounded in an ambush carried out by ISIS operatives from the Sinai Province west of el-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula (al-Araby al-Jadeed, November 4, 2021).
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
Summary of ISIS’s weekly activity
- ISIS published an infographic summarizing its activities around the globe between October 27 and November 2, 2021. According to the infographic, ISIS operatives carried out 46 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, up from 32 the previous week. The highest number of attacks, 16, was carried out in Iraq. There were 12 in Khorasan, 11 in West Africa, four in Central Africa, two in the Syria and one in Somalia. The attacks killed and wounded 163 people, up from 134 the previous week. The largest number of killed and wounded was 100, in the Khorasan Province. That was followed by 25 in Iraq, 22 in West Africa, nine in Central Africa, five in Somalia and two in Syria (al-Nabā’, Telegram, November 4, 2021).
Infographic appearing in ISIS’s weekly publication, al-Nabā’
(al-Nabā’, Telegram, November 4, 2021).
ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
New commander appointed for West Africa Province
- According to the social networks, this past week a new commander was appointed for ISIS’s West Africa Province. No further details were provided (Twitter account @HamZOo89022221, November 6, 2021). Official reports were later issued from local and military sources, confirming a new provincial commander had been appointed by the West Africa Province Shura Council. He is Sani Shuwaram, 45, and was sworn in by the provincial judge in a ceremony held in an ISIS camp near Lake Chad, where the province’s headquarters are located (Twitter account @HamZOo89022221, November 6, 2021; thenationonlineng.net, November 7, 2021). The killing of the former commander, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, was recently reported, and a few days later, his replacement was also killed.
The new commander of ISIS’s West Africa Province (pmnewsnigeria.com, November 6, 2021).
- November 8, 2021: A convoy of Nigerian military vehicles on the Ngamdu-Damaturu road in the northeastern part of the country was attacked. Three soldiers were killed and several were wounded. ISIS operatives set fire to one of the vehicles and took two rifles and ammunition.
- November 6-7, 2021: A Nigerian army foot patrol was attacked on a road in the northeastern part of the country. The soldiers fled and ISIS operatives took motorcycles and weapons. The following day ISIS again attacked a Nigerian army patrol in the same vicinity.
- November 4, 2021: There was an exchange of fire with the Nigerian army in Malam Fatori, in the Nigeria-Niger border region in the northeastern part of Nigeria. The army forces fled. The previous day there was a firefight with a Nigerian army patrol. At least three soldiers were killed or wounded, and the rest fled.
- November 4, 2021: A mortar shell was fired at a Nigerian army base in Goniri, about 45 kilometers southeast of Damaturu in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS claimed it had scored a direct hit.
ISIS operatives prepare to fire mortar shells (Telegram, November 6, 2021).
- November 3, 2021: A communications pole was set on fire in Mamori in Bornu in northeastern Nigeria.
- November 3, 2021: A Nigerian army roadblock was attacked in Gajiram, southeast of the tri-border area of Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. According to reports, the soldiers fled.
- November 2, 2021: Three Nigerian policemen were abducted at a roadblock erected by ISIS operatives on the road leading to Damaturu.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- November 8, 2021: Shots were fired at a Congolese army camp in Kahongera in the Beni region, about 50 kilometers west of the Congo-Uganda border. The soldiers fled and ISIS operatives took control of the camp’s weapons and ammunition.
ISIS operatives in a Congolese military camp (Telegram, November 8, 2021).
- November 5, 2021: ISIS operatives attacked a Congolese army camp in the Rwanzuri region in the eastern part of the country, not far from the Uganda border. The soldiers fled from the camp.
- November 5, 2021: ISIS operatives ambushed two trucks on the Beni-Ituri road belonging to local residents. There was an exchange of fire between the operatives and Congolese soldiers who accompanied the trucks. The soldiers fled and the ISIS operatives killed the passengers and set the trucks on fire.
ISIS operatives document the attack on the trucks (Telegram, November 6, 2021).
- November 4, 2021: ISIS operatives ambushed two trucks on the Beni-Kasundi road belonging to local residents. The passengers apparently fled and the trucks were set on fire.
- November 3, 2021: ISIS operatives attacked a Congolese army camp in the Beni area. The soldiers fled and the operatives set fire to the camp.
- November 6, 2021: An IED was detonated to attack a roadblock in Mogadishu manned by Somali police. Three policemen were wounded, one of them an officer.
- November 7, 2021: ISIS-K claims responsibility for killing a Pakistani intelligence officer in Peshawar, near the Afghanistan border (Telegram, November 7, 2018).
The battle for hearts and minds
- The lead article in ISIS’s weekly publication al-Nabā’ again dealt with jihad, the importance of fighting the “infidels” and the duty of every Muslim to participate in jihad – as opposed to the concept accepted by orthodox Islam, that jihad is the duty of every Muslim community as a group and is not required of the individual. The article states that jihad is the most worthy aspect of Islam second only to faith in Allah – as opposed to the concept accepted by orthodox Islam, that jihad is far less important, and is not one of the five pillars of Islam. The article claims that physically going to the site of jihad battles and jihad itself are the best way to atone for transgressions. No contemporary Muslim, the article continues, can abstain from jihad, even if faced with extreme difficulties. That was how the role models of the first generations of Muslims conducted themselves, and the same values should be adopted by the current generation (al-Nabā’, Telegram, November 4, 2021).