The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad, May 12 - 18, 2022

    Main events of the past week
    • The downtrend in ISIS activity around the world continued for the second week in a row, following the end of its campaign of vengeance which began on April 17 and ended on May 2, 2022.
    • The Sinai Peninsula: One noteworthy attack was carried out on May 11, 2022, when ISIS operatives attacked an Egyptian army checkpoint at the entrance to Rafah. At least five soldiers were killed, including an officer. At the same time, the fighting between the Egyptian security forces and ISIS continued, with the latter continuing to carry out attacks.
    • Syria: Two Syrian soldiers were killed in an IED explosion in the southwestern periphery of Damascus. A Syrian lieutenant colonel was killed by the rebel forces south of Idlib. ISIS continued its activity against the Kurdish forces, albeit at relatively low intensity. Iraq: ISIS continued to carry out small-scale attacks against the Iraqi security forces in the Kirkuk, Salah al-Din and Diyala provinces.
    • Afghanistan: Twenty people were wounded in an explosion at a mosque in the capital Kabul. The attack may have been carried out by ISIS.
    • Africa: ISIS claimed responsibility for its first attack in central Nigeria. Eight Togolese soldiers were killed and 13 others were wounded in an attack by armed men on the Togo-Burkina Faso border, in what appears to be the country’s first terrorist attack by radical Islamists. The Al-Shabaab movement in Somalia claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack in Mogadishu, which was aimed at disrupting the presidential elections.
    Statement by the Global Coalition against ISIS
    • The foreign ministers of the countries comprising the Global Coalition against ISIS, led by the United States, issued a joint statement on May 11, 2022, at the end of their meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. According to the statement, ISIS still poses a threat to world security, mainly in Africa, where the threat has been growing of late. Even in Iraq and Syria, which serve as ISIS’s centers of activity, there is still a threat. The Khorasan Province in Afghanistan is a growing threat to South and Central Asia. The foreign ministers expressed their determination to continue to fight and defeat ISIS, stressing the need to allocate sufficient resources to the fight and to address social and economic problems that may serve as a hotbed for extremism and terrorism (Global Coalition against ISIS website, May 11, 2022).
    The Sinai Peninsula
    • ISIS continued to attack the Egyptian security forces while the security forces continued to attack the organization’s operatives. Same as in the past weeks, ISIS mainly operated in Muqata’a, in south Sheikh Zuweid.
    • A noteworthy attack occurred on May 11, 2022, when ISIS operatives attacked an Egyptian army checkpoint at the entrance to Rafah. According to the Egyptian army, the Egyptian security forces managed to thwart the attack, killing seven ISIS operatives. On the Egyptian side, an officer and four soldiers were killed in the operation (Egyptian army spokesman, May 11, 2022). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, noting that its operatives killed 12 soldiers, including an officer. In addition, ISIS claimed that all its operatives had managed to withdraw to their positions unscathed, “after fulfilling their promise to take revenge for the Muslim female prisoners, even though this revenge has not been completed yet.” ISIS’s statement contradicts the version of the Egyptian army spokesman, according to which seven ISIS operatives were killed (Telegram, May 14, 2022). The attack took place four days after ISIS’s combined terrorist attack against a military post securing a strategic facility for pumping water, in which an Egyptian officer and 16 soldiers were killed[1].
    • Following are the main incidents in the Muqata’a region:
    • On May 15, 2022, ISIS’s Sinai Province announced that its operatives had activated an IED against a patrol of the Sinai Tribal Union (referred to in the original as “Mossad militias”)[2] and that two fighters had been killed and several others had been wounded in the explosion (Telegram, May 15, 2022). Local sources confirmed the above (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, May 15, 2022).
    • On May 14, 2022, three ISIS operatives took control of a clinic and fired at a Sinai Tribal Union vehicle moving outside the building. Three Sinai Tribal Union fighters were killed and two others were wounded. The building was subsequently surrounded and the operatives were killed (Akhbar Sinaa Al-Aan Facebook page, May 14, 2022).
    • On May 13, 2022, the Sinai Province announced that its operatives had fired machine guns at a Sinai Tribal Union vehicle. Two fighters were killed and at least three others were wounded (Telegram, May 14, 2022). In another incident, ISIS operatives activated an IED against a Sinai Tribal Union patrol in a village. At least one fighter was killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, May 13, 2022).
    • ISIS’s Sinai Province announced that on May 13, 2022, its operatives had activated two IEDs against two Sinai Tribal Union patrol vehicles east of Balaa, in the Rafah region. The two vehicles were destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 15, 2022). Local sources reported one fatality (Akhbar Sinaa Al-Aan Facebook page, May 13, 2022).
    Counterterrorism measures
    • On May 13, 2022, while breaking into a house in Muqata’a, Egyptian soldiers and Sinai Tribal Union fighters killed three commanders of ISIS’s Sinai Province who hid in the house. One of them, Jamil Suleiman al-Zari’i, codenamed Abu Anas, was a senior operative (Al-Arabiya, May 14, 2022; Sinaa Mubasher Facebook page, May 13, 2022).
    • Following ISIS’s terrorist attack at the water pumping facility near the Suez Canal on May 7, 2022, the Egyptian army attacked ISIS targets in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian Air Force carried out airstrikes, killing nine ISIS operatives and destroying two ATVs that had been used by the organization. In addition, the Egyptian army found and deactivated many IEDs (Egyptian army spokesman, May 11, 2022).
    Egyptian army armored vehicles in Sinai (Egyptian army spokesman, May 11, 2022)
    Egyptian army armored vehicles in Sinai (Egyptian army spokesman, May 11, 2022)
    Egyptian helicopters deployed in response to the terrorist attack. (Egyptian army spokesman, May 11, 2022)


    ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly published an infographic summing up the Sinai Province’s activity between March 24, 2022, and May 10, 2022. According to the infographic, during this period, ISIS carried out 25 attacks taking various forms: the detonation of IEDs (10 attacks); shooting and exchanges of fire (5); targeted killings (5); ambushes (2); sniper shooting (1); and blowing up a gas pipe (1). A total of 74 people were killed in the attacks, including 54 Sinai Tribal Union fighters (referred to by ISIS as “spies”) and 20 Egyptian army personnel (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022).

    Sinai Province activity (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)
    Sinai Province activity (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)
    Syrian provinces (freeworldmaps.net)
    The Damascus region
    • Two Syrian soldiers were killed and two others were wounded in the explosion of two IEDs activated on May 16, 2022, against a Syrian army vehicle in the western Ghouta region, in Damascus’s southwestern rural area (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 16, 2022). ISIS’s Syria Province claimed responsibility for the attack (Telegram, May 16, 2022). This was an unusual incident since ISIS has not claimed responsibility for attacks in the Damascus region recently.
    The Idlib region
    • Rebel forces in the rebel enclave fired a guided missile at a bus carrying fighters of one of the Shiite militias supporting the Syrian regime (its name was not mentioned) in the village of Nabal, about 20 km northwest of Aleppo and northeast of the rebel enclave. At least 10 fighters were killed (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 13, 2022).
    • A Syrian lieutenant colonel was killed on May 15, 2022, by rebel gunfire in the southern part of the rebel enclave (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 15, 2022).
    The desert region (Al-Badia)
    • On May 14, 2022, a Syrian officer (his rank was not mentioned) was killed and a soldier was wounded by gunfire at their car, probably by ISIS, in the desert area in the eastern Homs Province (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 14, 2022). On the same day, the Russian Air Force carried out 16 airstrikes against ISIS targets in this region and in the desert region of the Al-Raqqah Province (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 15, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen
    • According to ISIS’s Syria Province, on May 12, 2022, its operatives attacked a checkpoint of the Kurdish SDF forces in Shahil, about 10 km north of Al-Mayadeen. An SDF fighter was wounded (Telegram, May 12, 2022).
    Al-Raqqah region
    • According to ISIS’s Syria Province, on May 12, 2022, its operatives shot and killed an SDF fighter east of Al-Raqqah (Telegram, May 13, 2022).
    Al-Hasakah region
    • On May 14, 2022, a fighter of Ahrar al-Sharqiya, a rebel organization supported by Turkey, was shot and killed in Ras al-Ayn, on the Syrian-Turkish border. It was probably an ISIS attack (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 14, 2022). If so, ISIS may try to expand its activity in this region.
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
    Attacks by province
    • The number of ISIS attacks in Iraq continued to drop following the end of ISIS’s campaign of vengeance.

    Diyala Province

    • On May 16, 2022, three Tribal Mobilization fighters were killed by ISIS machine gun fire in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah (Telegram 16, 2022).
    • On May 16, 2022, ISIS operatives activated an IED against a vehicle of the emergency police in Abu Khanazir, in the Al-Waqf region, about 15 km northeast of Baqubah. The vehicle was destroyed and the driver was killed. A force arriving on the scene to provide assistance was also attacked by ISIS. An officer and two policemen were wounded (Telegram, May 16, 2022).
    Salah al-Din Province
    • ISIS’s Iraq Province announced that its operatives had fired machine guns and RPGs at a Popular Mobilization post in the al-Aith region, about 50 km north of Tikrit. Four fighters were killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, May 16, 2022). The Popular Mobilization confirmed the incident, adding that two fighters were killed and another was wounded (Popular Mobilization website, May 16, 2022).
    • ISIS’s Iraq Province announced that on May 16, 2022, its operatives had abducted and executed a Shiite civilian west of Tuz Khormato, about 100 km northeast of Samarra (Telegram, May 16, 2022).

    Counterterrorism measures in Iraq

    Nineveh Province
    • Six ISIS operatives were killed in an Iraqi airstrike on May 15, 2022, in the Makhmur Mountains, about 70 km southeast of Mosul (Twitter account of Iraqi Armed Forces Spokesman Yahya Rasoul, May 15, 2022).
    • On May 12, 2022, the Iraqi Air Force with ground support killed nine ISIS commanders in the Nineveh Province (Twitter account of Iraqi Armed Forces Spokesman Yahya Rasoul, May 12, 2022).
    Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
    • An infographic published by ISIS summing up its activity around the world in the period between May 5 and May 11, 2022, indicates a significant decrease in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS. In this period, the organization’s operatives carried out 33 attacks in ISIS’s various provinces around the globe (compared to 80 in the previous week). The largest number of attacks was carried out in the Central Africa Province (8). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: West Africa (7); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (5); Iraq (5); Sinai (4); Syria (3); Mozambique (1). A total of 85 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 198 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Central Africa Province (25). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Sinai (20); West Africa (17); Khorasan (8); Syria (5); Iraq (5); and Mozambique (5) (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022).
    • The infographic indicates a significant drop in ISIS’s activity compared to the previous week, especially regarding the organization’s activity in Nigeria. In addition, it indicates that the Central Africa Province (operating mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was leading in the number of attacks and casualties, which may indicate a strengthening of ISIS in that country. There was also a significant increase in ISIS’s activity in Sinai, following the attack against the water pumping facility east of the Suez Canal on May 7, 2022.
    Summary of ISIS attacks (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)
    Summary of ISIS attacks (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)
    ISIS attacks by week (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS attacks by week (according to ISIS data)

    ISIS activity in Africa

    Nigeria
    • According to an announcement by ISIS’s West Africa Province, on May 14, 2022, its operatives activated an IED against a Nigerian army patrol vehicle in Bunyadi, in Yobe State, in northeastern Nigeria. The vehicle was destroyed and its passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 15, 2022). On the same day, ISIS announced that its operatives had fired four mortar shells at a Nigerian army base in the town and definite hits were identified (Telegram, May 15, 2022). No reference to the incident by the Nigerian army was found.
    • According to an announcement by ISIS’s West Africa Province, on May 12, 2022, its operatives fired machine guns at a Nigerian police checkpoint in Suleja, in central Nigeria, in the northern part of the capital Abuja, and four policemen were killed in the attack (Telegram, May 13, 2022). This is the first time ISIS has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in central Nigeria. No reference by the Nigerian government was found.
    • A senior commander of ISIS’s West Africa Province was reportedly executed on May 9, 2022, by ISIS operatives in the Sambisa Forest, in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria, for intending to flee and surrender to the Nigerian regime. According to the report, the senior official, codenamed Abu Siddiq, was put on trial and then executed (allafrica.com, May 12, 2022).
    • Attack against Christian residents: An IED exploded on May 11, 2022, in a pub in Kaba, in Kogi State, in eastern Nigeria. At least three people in the pub were killed and several others were wounded (dailytrust.com, May 13, 2022). ISIS’s West Africa Province claimed responsibility for the attack, noting that an IED had been activated against a group of “infidel Christians” (Telegram, May 12, 2022).
    • Economic attack: ISIS’s West Africa Province announced that on May 14, 2022, its operatives had set fire to a high-voltage pylon of the Nigerian government in Gorando, in Taraba State in eastern Nigeria, as part of its so-called economic war against the Nigerian government (Telegram, May 15, 2022).
    Counterterrorism measures
    • On May 11, 2022, the Nigerian army thwarted an attack by ISIS’s West Africa Province in Tati, in Taraba State in eastern Nigeria, killing several operatives. A Nigerian army commander has been missing since the incident (prnigeria.com, May 11, 2022).
    • On 14 May 2022, African Coalition forces killed two commanders of ISIS’s West Africa in the Lake Chad region, in the Nigeria-Cameroon-Chad tri-border area (www.thecable.ng, May 14, 2022).
    • In the wake of reports that the Boko Haram and Ansaru organizations, both of which are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, have recently been collaborating, local sources have expressed concern and are recruiting young locals in the Birnin-Gwari forests in the southwestern part of Kaduna State in central Nigeria (www.vanguardngr.com, May 14, 2022).
    • Alhaji Ari-Difinoma, Boko Haram’s senior preacher and recruiter of operatives, surrendered to the Nigerian army in the northeast of the country (www.withinnigeria.com, May 17, 2022).
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • According to an announcement by ISIS’s Central Africa Province, on May 10, 2022, its operatives fired machine guns at a joint camp of the Congolese and Ugandan armies in the Rwenzori region in eastern Congo, not far from the border with Uganda. One soldier was killed and a few others were wounded. The soldiers fled and ISIS operatives seized two machine guns, RPG rockets, and ammunition (Telegram, May 11, 2022). On the same day, the operatives of the province fired machine guns at forces of militias loyal to the Congolese army in the Ituri region, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. According to ISIS, 13 militia fighters were killed and several of their homes were set on fire by ISIS operatives (Telegram, May 11, 2022).
    • Attack on Christian merchants: According to an announcement by ISIS’s Central Africa Province, on May 9, 2022, its operatives ambushed convoys of Christian merchants on the Komanda-Mombasa highway, in the Ituri region, setting fire to nine trucks. In addition, ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a Congolese army patrol that arrived on the scene, and the patrol force fled (Telegram, May 11, 2022). This is part of ISIS’s economic war against the Christian residents in the region.
    Three trucks that were attacked going up in flames (Telegram, May 16, 2022)
    Three trucks that were attacked going up in flames (Telegram, May 16, 2022)
    Togo
    • On May 11, 2022, a group of armed men attacked Togolese soldiers on the Togo-Burkina Faso border. Eight soldiers were killed and 13 others were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident. The attackers are believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda. If so, this is the country’s first terrorist attack by radical Islamists (Reuters, May 11, 2022; Al-Jazeera, May 11, 2022).
    Somalia
    • On May 11, 2022, a terrorist activated his explosive belt in a parking lot near Mogadishu Airport. At least four people were killed (two security personnel and two civilians) and seven others were wounded. This was apparently an attempt to harm candidates for the presidential elections that were held in the region. Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack (AOAV, May 12, 2022).
    • US President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of hundreds of US troops to Somalia to assist the central government, in light of the rise in the number of attacks by the Al-Shabaab movement against the Somalian government. By doing so, Biden is reversing the decision of former President Donald Trump, who withdrew around 700 US combatants from Somalia (www.militarytimes.com, May 16, 2022).

    ISIS activity in Asia

    Asia
    Afghanistan
    • According to an announcement by the Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, on May 13, 2022, three people were wounded in an IED explosion at a mosque in the capital Kabul, during Friday prayers. According to local sources, 20 people were wounded (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 13, 2022). No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
    The mosque damaged by the explosion: Flames can be seen rising from the mihrab, the niche symbolizing the direction of prayer to Mecca (Taleb al-Afghani 3 YouTube account, May 14, 2022)
    The mosque damaged by the explosion: Flames can be seen rising from the mihrab, the niche symbolizing the direction of prayer to Mecca (Taleb al-Afghani 3 YouTube account, May 14, 2022)
    Pakistan
    • On May 15, 2022, two Sikh businessmen were shot and killed in the Peshawar region of northwestern Pakistan (NDTV, May 15, 2022). ISIS’s Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack (Telegram, May 15, 2022).
    • On May 15, 2022, policemen and three children were killed in a suicide bombing attack in north Waziristan, in northwestern Pakistan, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident (VOA, May 15, 2022).
    The battle for hearts and minds
    • The editorial of this week’s issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly was entitled, “The millstone [of jihad is still] turning,” and was devoted to ISIS’s activity in the Sinai Peninsula. The article harshly criticizes the Bedouin tribes that collaborate with the Egyptian army in the “Jewish alliance with those who have abandoned Islam”, i.e., the alliance between Israel and the Egyptian regime, as part of the Sinai Tribal Union militia, which operates against ISIS. The author claims that the Bedouins in Sinai are assisting in the defense of Israel (“the mini-state of the Jews”) and serve as minions who carry out the plots of Israel’s intelligence personnel. Therefore, the author claims, they should be called “the militias of the Mossad.” The author also notes that the “traitor” tribes of Sinai, and the recent increasing activity of the Israeli Air Force, have forced ISIS’s operatives to change positions and move from the villages where they had operated to other places in Sinai.
    • Nevertheless, ISIS operatives are committed to continue to wage jihad, and the Jews and the Egyptian regime should not think that they have eliminated jihad in Sinai, because “the millstone of jihad is [still] turning and it will continue to do so” and ISIS will continue to operate in other areas of Sinai’ (Telegram, May 12, 2022). He calls on Muslim residents of Egypt to wage jihad in Egyptian cities against the Egyptian regime, its collaborators and the security forces, for joining forces with Israel and harming Islam (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022).
    The article about the activity in Sinai (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)
    The article about the activity in Sinai (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 12, 2022)


    ISIS’s Al-Furat media foundation released a video entitled “A Message to the Infidel West,” which features a French-speaking ISIS operative codenamed Maysara al-Muhajer, with two armed operatives next to him. The speaker, whose voice is distorted to prevent identification, quotes verses from the Quran in fluent Arabic (therefore it is reasonable to assume that he is a French-speaking Arab), expressing his (considerably belated) condolences over the death of ISIS’s leader, and a pledge of allegiance to the new leader. The speaker notes that jihad will continue and that killing ISIS’s leaders will not prevent this. He addresses Christians, Jews, infidels and those loyal to them, saying that they should not think that killing ISIS’s leaders will cause ISIS to grow weak or surrender. In addition, he threatens the leaders of the world (the “dictators”), stating that ISIS will strike them. Later in the video, an English-speaking operative appears, apparently an operative of ISIS’s West Africa Province, who also states that killing ISIS’s leaders will not change ISIS’s path and that jihad will continue (Telegram, May 14, 2022).

    The speaker with two armed operatives beside him (Telegram, May 14, 2022)
    The speaker with two armed operatives beside him (Telegram, May 14, 2022)
    The title of the video, “A Message to the infidel West.”
    The title of the video, “A Message to the infidel West.” (Telegram, May 14, 2022)
    Appendix

    Additional ISIS attacks (according to the organization’s statements)

    Syria
    The Al-Hasakah region
    • On May 15, 2022, an SDF vehicle was targeted by gunfire south of Al-Hasakah. The vehicle was put out of commission. Apparently, there were no casualties (Telegram, May 16, 2022).

    Iraq

    ISIS’s attacks in the various provinces[3]
    The Diyala Province
    • On May 16, 2022, three Tribal Mobilization fighters were targeted by gunfire in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah. They were killed.
    • On May 16, 2022, an Iraqi army post was targeted by gunfire south of Bahraz, about 2 km southeast of Baqubah. One soldier was killed and another was wounded. A force arriving on the scene to provide assistance was also attacked and three vehicles were damaged.
    • On May 16, 2022, an IED was activated against a vehicle of the emergency police in Abu Khanazir, in the Al-Waqf region, about 15 km northeast of Baqubah. The vehicle was destroyed and the driver was killed. A force arriving on the scene to provide assistance was also attacked. An officer and two policemen were wounded.
    • May 12, 2022, a Kurdish Peshmerga patrol was targeted by gunfire in Daraji, in the Zanana region, about 100 km north of Baqubah. One Peshmerga fighter was killed.
    • On May 12, 2022, an IED was activated against a Peshmerga vehicle in the Zanana region. The vehicle was put out of commission.
    The Kirkuk Province
    • On May 12, 2022, the home of an Iraqi government “spy” was broken into in Al-Madmuma, in the Riyadh region, about 50 km southeast of Kirkuk. He was interrogated and then executed.

    [1] For further details about the attack against the strategic facility, see the ITIC's Information Bulletin from May 12, 2022, “ISIS attacks a strategic facility in Sinai – Significance and possible implications” ↑
    [2] It should be noted that this week, ISIS started for the first time to call the Sinai Tribal Union, which supports the Egyptian army, by this name. It calls it “Mossad militias” to besmirch the Sinai Tribal Union and portray it as a group of collaborators working to protect Israel. See also the use of this name in Al-Naba weekly’s lead article. ↑
    [3] According to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑

    SOURCE: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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