The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad, June 16-22, 2022
Main events of the past week
- This week, most of ISIS’s activity was carried out in Syria, Sinai, Afghanistan and Africa.
- The Sinai Peninsula: The Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union continued to mop up the region west of Rafah and the Sheikh Zuweid region from the presence of ISIS operatives. Seven ISIS operatives were killed. The Egyptian army also sustained casualties, the most senior of whom was a colonel.
- Syria: A Global Coalition force detained a senior ISIS official in Syria near the border with Turkey. ISIS operatives attacked a bus in the Al-Raqqah Province, killing 11 Syrian soldiers and two civilians. After several weeks of relative calm, ISIS resumed its activity in the desert region.
- Iraq: The number of attacks carried out by ISIS remained relatively low. As in recent weeks, the attacks were concentrated in the Diyala and Kirkuk provinces. According to an announcement by the Iraqi army, it has killed the governor of ISIS’s Al-Anbar Province.
- Afghanistan: ISIS claimed responsibility for a combined attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul. According to the Taliban, a member of the Sikh community and a Taliban member were killed and seven civilians were wounded. However, the number of casualties is apparently much higher.
- Africa: There was a decrease in ISIS activity on the continent compared to last week. ISIS’s Mozambique Province continued to attack Christian villages. This week, it expanded its area of activity to Nampula Province, south of the province of Cabo Delgado in the northeast of the country.
The Sinai Peninsula
- The Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union continued to operate against ISIS in the Rafah and Bir al-Abd region. They suffered several casualties, including a colonel who was killed.
- On June 18, 2022, it was reported that Colonel Osama Abdel Halim, commander of an infantry battalion in the Egyptian army, was killed in an exchange of fire with armed men west of Rafah (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, June 18, 2022). ISIS claimed responsibility for killing him, noting that its operatives had activated two IEDs against joint patrols of the Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union near the Al-Husseinat School west of Rafah, resulting in the death of the officer. In addition, according to ISIS, a Sinai Tribal Union commander and fighter were killed and at least two others were wounded (Telegram, June 19, 2022). According to local sources, two Sinai Tribal Union fighters were indeed killed in the region (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, June 18, 2022).
In the Bir al-Abd region, where less activity took place this week, a Sinai Tribal Union fighter was reportedly wounded by gunfire (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, June 21, 2022). According to another report, an Egyptian soldier was killed by an IED activated against an Egyptian army force in Sheikh Zuweid (Telegram, June 21, 2022).
- At the same time, on June 19-20, 2022, Egyptian army and Sinai Tribal Union forces killed seven ISIS operatives in the western region of Rafah. Another operative surrendered to them (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, June 20, 2022).
The Syrian arena
The Aleppo region
- On June 16, 2022, a Global Coalition force landed by helicopter near the city of Jarabulus in northern Syria, about 100 km northeast of Aleppo on the Syria-Turkey border, captured Hani Ahmad al-Kurdi, AKA Salim, a senior ISIS operative who, according to senior US officials, had served as the governor (wali) of ISIS’s Al-Raqqah Province. Al-Kurdi was an experienced bomb maker and operational facilitator who became one of the top leaders in the Syrian branch of ISIS. He was responsible for coordinating terrorist activities across the region. He was instructing others on making explosive devices, supporting the construction of improvised explosive device facilities, and facilitating attacks on US and partner forces, mainly the Kurdish SDF forces (Operation Inherent Resolve’s Twitter account, June 16, 2022; Enab Baladi, June 18, 2022).
The desert region (Al-Badia)
- This week, ISIS expanded its activity in this region after several weeks in which it had not operated there.
- Attack against a bus: According to a Syrian army source, on June 20, 2022, at 06:30 in the morning, a bus was attacked in the desert region south of Al-Raqqah. A total of 11 soldiers and two civilians on board the bus were killed and three soldiers were wounded (SANA, June 20, 2022). ISIS claimed responsibility, noting that its operatives had ambushed and fired at a bus carrying Syrian soldiers on the Al-Zamlah road, about 50 km south of Al-Raqqah. According to ISIS, 13 soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. ISIS operatives set the bus on fire (Amaq, Telegram, June 20, 2022).
- On June 21, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked a Syrian army convoy east of the Dumayr military airfield, about 50 km northeast of Damascus. Several soldiers were killed and wounded. That same day, it was reported that two Syrian soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in an ISIS attack against Syrian army posts in the desert region in the southern Al-Raqqah Province, the same area where the bus was attacked the day before (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 21, 2022).
- On June 17, 2022, ISIS attacked a vehicle of the Liwa Al-Quds militia (Al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian militia operating alongside the Syrian regime) east of Palmyra. The five militia fighters on board the vehicle were killed (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 17, 2022).
- On June 19, 2022, three ISIS operatives, including a commander, managed to escape from the Al-Raqqah central prison. Following their escape, the SDF forces controlling the city entered a state of alert (Al-Arabiya, June 19, 2022).
The Idlib region
- HTS, the leading organization in the rebel enclave in Idlib, announced that on June 14, 2022, its forces detained several (apparently six) senior ISIS operatives in a number of apartments in the town of Al-Dana, about 30 km northeast of Idlib and about 7 km southeast of the Syria-Turkey border (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, June 15, 2022).
- On June 19-20, 2022, there were exchanges of artillery fire between the rebel forces and the Syrian army in the southern region of the rebel enclave in Idlib (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 20, 2022).
The Iraqi arena
ISIS attacks by province
- This week as well, ISIS’s attacks remained relatively few in number.
- On June 16, 2022, ISIS operatives abducted an Iraqi government “spy” in the village of Al-Mukhayyisa, about 20 km northeast of Baqubah. He was interrogated and then executed (Telegram, June 16, 2022).
- On June 18, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle on the outskirts of the Mutaybijah region, about 65 km north of Baqubah. Two officers and a soldier were wounded (Telegram, June 18, 2022).
- On June 17, 2022, ISIS operatives fired at an Iraqi army patrol in the Zarka region, west of Tuz Khormato, about 70 km south of Kirkuk. One soldier was killed (Telegram, June 18, 2022).
Salah al-Din Province
- On June 17, 2022, ISIS operatives set fire to the home of an Iraqi government “spy” in the Al-Adhari region, near Tarmiyah, about 30 km north of Baghdad (Telegram, June 18, 2022).
- The Iraqi army announced that the governor (wali) of ISIS’s Al-Anbar Province, codenamed Abu Mansur al-Hayati, and two of his aides had been killed in an airstrike. The location of the attack was not specified, but it was probably the desert region of the Al-Anbar Province (Al-Sumaria, June 19, 2022). This was yet another blow for ISIS, whose activity in Iraq has significantly decreased over the past few months.
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 June 9 and June 15, 2022, indicates that the organization carried out 59 attacks in its various provinces around the globe (compared to 33 in the previous week). The largest number of attacks was carried out in the West Africa Province (16). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Central Africa (9); Mozambique (9); Sinai (7); Iraq (7); Khorasan, i.e. Afghanistan (6); Syria (4); and Sahel (1). A total of 262 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 79 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the West Africa Province (104). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Sahel (65); Khorasan (30); Mozambique (20); Central Africa (13); Sinai (12); Iraq (11); and Syria (7) (Al-Naba, Telegram, June 16, 2022).
- The infographic indicates that ISIS’s activity has increased compared to the previous week, especially because of the expansion of its activity in Africa.
ISIS attacks by week (according to ISIS data)
- Forces of the African Coalition and the Nigerian army carried out counterterrorism operations against ISIS and Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.
- Counterterrorism activity: According to an announcement by the Nigerian army, on June 14, 2022, it carried out an operation in the Gurzum region, about 40 km southwest of Maiduguri, killing several operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province. Camps and open market used by the operatives were also destroyed. In addition, weapons were seized (Punch, a Nigerian portal, June 15, 2022). Two days previously, on June 12, 2022, a force of the African Coalition together with a civilian task force operating against one of the Boko Haram organization’s biggest camps, in the village of Gazuwa, in the Bama region, about 60 km southeast of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, killed 47 Boko Haram operatives and senior commanders (Vanguard, a Nigerian portal, June 15 22).
- ISIS activity: According to local sources, at least three members of the local militia CJTF (The Civilian Joint Task Force) were killed and three aid workers were abducted in an ISIS attack on June 17, 2022 in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria (thewillnigeria.com, June 18, 2022). ISIS’s West Africa Province claimed responsibility for the incident, noting that operatives fired at a position of militias supporting the Nigerian army in the town of Monguno, and that three fighters were killed and several others were wounded. In addition, three Red Cross workers were abducted (Telegram, June 18, 2022). The next day, ISIS operatives attacked a Nigerian army compound in the town of Dikwa, about 75 km east of Maiduguri. One officer was killed and several others were wounded. ISIS operatives seized a medium machine gun, a rocket launcher and several rockets (Telegram, June 19, 2022). On the same day, at least six civilians were murdered in an attack by ISIS operatives on the Dikwa-Nagala highway in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria (leadership.ng, June 20, 2022).
Attack on two churches: Armed men killed eight people and abducted 38 Christian civilians in an attack on two churches in Kaduna State, in northern Nigerian. It is reasonable to assume that ISIS or other radical Islamic elements were responsible for the incident (Reuters, June 21, 2022).
- Attack on Christian villages: According to an announcement by ISIS’s West Africa Province, on June 15, 2022, its operatives attacked two Christian villages, Nagormi and Grama, in the Kousséri region, in northern Cameroon, near the Cameroon-Chad border. Six civilians, including two priests, were killed. ISIS operatives set fire to their homes and a church (Telegram, June 17, 2022).
- According to local sources, six Nigerian fishermen were murdered on June 16, 2022, apparently by jihadists (ISIS or Boko Haram operatives) in the Lake Chad region, in the Cameroon-Nigeria-Chad tri-border area (AFP, June 16, 2022).
- ISIS’s Mozambique Province continued to attack Christian villages in the province of Cabo Delgado, its stronghold in the northeast of the country. This week, it even expanded its area of operation southward to the province of Nampula, south of Cabo Delgado, and along Mozambique’s northeastern coast.
Activity of ISIS’s Sahel Province
- This week, ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly published an infographic summing up the activity of the Sahel Province (which operates in the Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso border region) between May 22 and June 4, 2022. According to the infographic, during this period, operatives of the province carried out three extensive attacks against local militias, in which more than 145 people were killed or wounded. In the attacks, seven vehicles were destroyed or put out of commission, and the operatives seized 19 vehicles (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 16, 2022).
- On June 17, 2022, Somali security forces and armed civilians thwarted an attack by dozens of Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab operatives in the town of Bahdo, about 200 km north of Mogadishu. During the attack, the security forces killed 70 Al-Shabaab operatives (Reuters, June 18, 2022).
- According to an announcement by the Malian government, 132 people were killed in an attack by operatives of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Katibat Macina organization on three villages in the Mopti region, in central Mali (Al-Jazeera, June 20, 2022).
- A combined ISIS attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul: On the morning of June 18, 2022, several armed men opened fire and activated IEDs at a Sikh temple in the Karte Parwan area in central Kabul. There was an exchange of fire with the Taliban, at the end of which, according to the Taliban, all the attackers were killed. According to the Taliban administration, a member of the Sikh community and a Taliban member were killed, and seven civilians were wounded (Khaama Press, June 18, 2022).
- ISIS’s Khorasan Province and its Amaq News Agency issued claims of responsibility for the attack, and posted a picture of the main perpetrator of the attack, codenamed Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki (the Tajik). According to reports, this was a combined attack: Al-Tajiki, who was armed with a machine gun, a pistol and hand grenades, carried out the attack on a Sikh and Hindu temple. He first killed the security guard at the entrance, then went inside and opened fire at the worshipers. Two IEDs were activated against a Taliban patrol force that reached the gate of the temple, and several Taliban operatives were killed or wounded. After the Taliban brought forces into the area, a car bomb was activated against them. Two more IEDs were activated against Taliban patrols attempting to reach the scene of the attack.
- According to ISIS, the exchange of fire between Taliban operatives and the perpetrator, who was inside the temple, lasted more than three hours, until he was killed. About 30 Hindus and Sikhs and at least 20 Taliban operatives were killed or wounded in the attack.
- According to ISIS, the attack was carried out in response to statements insulting the Prophet Muhammad made by a senior Indian government official. The statements against the Prophet Muhammad caused a stir in the Islamic world over the past month, leading to a wave of threats by Islamic elements to India, the center of the Hindu and Sikh communities (Telegram, June 18, 2022).
- Voice of Khurasan, ISIS’s Khorasan Province’s English-language magazine, which came out on June 17, 2022, severely criticized the Taliban movement, claiming that it is controlled by Pakistan and the United States (Telegram, June 17, 2022). This reflects the tension between ISIS and the Taliban.
- On June 20, 2022, the Turkish security forces detained three ISIS operatives in Ankara, two of whom are foreign nationals wanted by Interpol. The names of the detainees were not disclosed (Anatolia News Agency, June 20, 2022).
- On June 14, 2022, Switzerland announced the arrest of three suspected ISIS operatives or supporters in Zurich, Sankt Gallen and Lucerne. According to the announcement, manhunts are underway for seven other ISIS operatives or supporters in Switzerland (Al-Arabiya, June 14, 2022).
- A suspected ISIS operative (identified as Aleem N.) was arrested in the city of Römerberg, Germany, about 75 km northwest of Stuttgart. The detainee is suspected of planning to carry out a significant attack that posed a threat to Germany’s national security. In September 2020, he left Germany in an attempt to travel to Syria via Turkey, but failed to reach his destination. In April 2021, he apparently enlisted in ISIS in Germany, and handled propaganda activity for it. As part of his activity, he translated official ISIS content from Arabic into German, including videos and audiotapes, and disseminated them on various Telegram channels among German speakers (Al-Arabiya, June 14, 2022).
The battle for hearts and minds
- The editorial of this week’s issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly was entitled “Africa – Land of Migration [hijrah] and Jihad.” The author describes ISIS’s activity in Africa as a success story and calls on its supporters around the globe to migrate to Africa and carry out jihad within the ranks of ISIS (Al-Naba, Telegram, June 16, 2022).
- The author presents ISIS’s achievements in Africa as a direct result of the organization and its operatives’ adhering to the ideological principle of “a guiding book and a winning sword,” i.e., adherence to the Quran and to war of jihad (a principle established by Ibn Taymiyyah, the spiritual father of the Salafist-jihadi movement, who lived in the second half of the 13th and early 14th century in Syria. This principle is often presented under the slogan, “a guiding book and a winning sword”, and in Arabic: “kitab yahdi wa sayf yansur”.
- According to the author, ISIS operatives in Africa operate on two complementary levels: the first – preaching Islam (da’wa) and studying how to teach Islam through the Preaching and Mosques Bureau (Diwan al-Da’wa wal-Massajed), the Morality Police and Promotion of Good while Prohibiting Evil Bureau (Diwan al-Hisba wa-Amr bil-Maaruf wal-Nahi an Al-Munkar) and the Charity Bureau (Diwan Al-Zakat). The second – a war against the armies of the infidels and against the “abandoners of Islam,” (i.e., the local regimes) and the elements that collaborate with them.
- The author notes that in recent years Africa has become an arena for migration (hijrah) and jihad, and that what is happening today on the African continent is similar to the situation that occurred at the height of ISIS’s activity in Syria and Iraq, when its new generation of empowerment (jil al-tamkin al-qadem) emerged. Despite the military operations being waged against ISIS on the continent by local governments and the “Crusader” West, it continues to expand its spread and influence through its efforts in the areas of preaching, communication and administration. The author ends the editorial by calling on ISIS’s supporters around the globe to carry out migration (hijrah) to Africa and carry out jihad there within the ranks of ISIS.
Facebook’s failure to filter content from extremist elements in Africa
- For the past two years, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which monitors discourse on social media, has been conducting research on the violent discourse on Facebook in Africa. The study shows that Facebook allowed the sharing of posts that openly supported the activity of ISIS and Al-Shabaab, which is based in Somalia and affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and incited violence. The study, which concentrated on posts on Facebook solely in the context of Africa, found that even in cases where Facebook agreed to remove the accounts that posted such content, they were soon re-established under a different name. The inciting posts were published in Swahili, Somali and Arabic (ISD, June 14, 2022).
In new audiotape, Al-Zawahiri calls for adopting the conduct of prominent jihadi figures
- On June 15, 2022, Al-Qaeda’s Al-Sahab Foundation released a recording of its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling on its operatives to follow in the footsteps of past and present prominent jihadi figures and adopt them as role models (SITE, June 14, 2022; Akhbar Al-Aan, June 15, 2022). In the audiotape, Al-Zawahiri appears to be hinting at divisions and splits which have taken place in Al-Qaeda under local leaders, and he is interested in uniting the ranks under him. The failure to mention Al-Qaeda’s relations with the Taliban and key issues concerning Al-Qaeda has led to the recording receiving little attention.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on a slide accompanying the audiotape (Telegram, June 14, 2022)
Additional ISIS attacks (according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility)
- On June 15, 2022, three mortar shells were fired at a camp of the African Coalition forces in the town of Agiri, in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, June 16, 2022).
- On June 15, 2022, two rockets were fired at a camp of the African Coalition forces in the town of Agiri, in Borno State. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified (Telegram, June 17, 2022).
- On June 16, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban commander in the Alinaqar region, in the Laghman Province, in eastern Afghanistan. He was wounded (Telegram, June 17, 2022).
- On June 15, 2022, a Taliban headquarters was targeted by gunfire and rockets in the Suki region, in the Kunar Province. A Taliban member was killed and three others were wounded (Telegram, June 17, 2022).
- On June 18, 2022, a Taliban vehicle was targeted by gunfire and rockets in the Nurgal District, in the Kunar Province. Five Taliban members were killed or wounded (Telegram, June 19, 2022).
- Several Christian villages were attacked mainly in the Cabo Delgado Province, in the northeastern coast of Mozambique. One attack was carried out in the Nampula Province, an incident that may indicate the expansion of ISIS’s activity from the Cabo Delgado Province southward, along the coast. Following is a list of the incidents according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
- On June 17, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked the villages of Lurio, in the Memba region, in the Nampula Province, which is situated south of the Cabo Delgado Province. ISIS operatives killed a Christian civilian in the village and seized villagers’ property (Telegram, June 17, 2022).
- On June 19, 2022, ISIS attacked the village of Nanawa in the Ancuabe District. A Christian civilian was killed. A church and Christian residents’ homes were set on fire (Telegram, June 19, 2022).
- On June 18, 2022, ISIS attacked the town of Mangilio, in the Muidumbe region. Five Christian civilians were killed and their homes were set on fire (Telegram, June 19, 2022).
- On June 18, 2022, ISIS attacked the village of Nikoita, in the Ancuabe District. ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a Mozambican army patrol. Two soldiers were killed. Vehicles and Christian residents’ homes were set on fire (Telegram, June 19, 2022).
 According to ISIS claims of responsibility and the Iraqi media ↑
 This is a reference to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), consisting of forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. ↑
 See full report: https://www.isdglobal.org/isd-publications/under-moderated-unhinged-and-ubiquitous-al-shabaab-and-the-islamic-state-networks-on-facebook/ ↑