The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (January 20-26, 2021)

    Main events of the past week
    • Syria: The main incident this week was the break-in by dozens of armed ISIS operatives at the Al-Hasakah prison, which is controlled by the Kurdish SDF forces, where several thousand ISIS operatives are incarcerated. Hundreds of prisoners were liberated. The SDF forces and ISIS operatives have been fighting in the region for about six days and it seems that the fighting is still going on. Dozens of casualties were reported on both sides. At the same time, ISIS operatives have stepped up their terrorist activity against the SDF forces in the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region and in the Al-Raqqah region.
    • In Iraq: ISIS continued its activity in the various provinces on a relatively small scale. One noteworthy incident was the killing of 11 Iraqi soldiers in an attack on an Iraqi army headquarters in the Diyala Province, about 60 km north of Baqubah.
    • The Sinai Peninsula: According to reports by local sources, 13 Egyptian army officers and soldiers were ambushed and wounded by armed men south of Sheikh Zuweid, apparently ISIS operatives.
    • Afghanistan: ISIS continued its activity on a relatively small scale. One noteworthy incident was the activation of an IED against a minibus carrying Shiite residents in Herat, in western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran. At least six people were killed in the incident.
    • Africa: ISIS continued its activity in Africa, mainly in northeastern Nigeria. In Libya, vehicles belonging to General Haftar’s army were targeted by gunfire south of Sabha (about 650 km south of Tripoli). Two soldiers were killed. It should be noted that this is the second attack carried out by ISIS in the region in the past two weeks.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: The lead article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to a video released by ISIS and documenting the training adolescents in West Africa (“the Generation of Empowerment”). The author stresses ISIS’s determination to continuing training the next generation and the determination of the young trainees to continue on the path of “jihad against the infidels until the liberation of Al-Aqsa, Rome and Andalusia [i.e., Spain].” The author also notes that ISIS’s “Generation of Empowerment” will spread throughout Africa and East Asia and will deal severe blows to the infidels.
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

    A break-in at the Al-Hasakah prison
    • The main incident this week was the break-in of about 200 ISIS operatives at the Al-Sina’ah-Ghuwayran prison in the Al-Hasakah neighborhood of Al-Sina’ah. A total of 4,000-5000 ISIS operatives are held in the prison, which is controlled by the SDF forces. The attack began on January 20, 2022, with the detonation of two car bombs at the checkpoint at the prison gate. Then, dozens of armed ISIS operatives stormed the prison. There were heavy exchanges of fire and prisoners started to escape.
    The prison during the fighting, as documented by the SDF forces (SDF Press, January 22, 2022)
    The prison during the fighting, as documented by the SDF forces (SDF Press, January 22, 2022)
    The prison during the fighting, as documented by the SDF forces


    Clashes spilled over from the prison compound to the neighborhoods of Al-Hasakah. Hundreds of prisoners, ISIS operatives, escaped to the nearby neighborhoods. Some of the operatives hid in the homes of the residents, using them as human shields (Al-Arabiya and Al-Araby al-Jadeed, January 20-23, 2022; Sky News, January 21, 2022; Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 22, 2022). Aircraft of the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS flew over the area (Rudaw, January 20, 2022). As at January 26, 2022, six days after the break-in, fighting in the prison area is still going on. The city of Al-Hasakah is under curfew and SDF forces are deployed there (North Press Agency, January 26, 2022; SyriaTV, January 25, 2022).

    • According to ISIS, they liberated over 800 prisoners. The SDF noted that hundreds of prisoners had surrendered. Several prisoners who took part in the fighting were killed. Some of those who were recaptured were taken by bus to other detention facilities (North Press Agency, January 25, 2022).
    • According to an SDF press release, the prison is under SDF control. So far, about 150 ISIS operatives and about 15 of those who took part in the fighting were killed. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 84 ISIS operatives and 45 Kurdish fighters were killed (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 25, 2022). This seems to be a minimum assessment. Both sides may have suffered more casualties.
    • According to the SDF, based on the interrogation of those ISIS operatives who were detained, over 200 ISIS operatives with explosive belts took part in the fighting. Some of them came from Ras al-Ayn and Tell al-Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border and others from Iraq. It was also stated that preparations for the break-in took about six months (SDF Press, January 23, 2022). ISIS reported that it had killed several dozen SDF fighters (Telegram, January 24, 2022).
    Prisoners who escaped and were caught by the SDF forces (SDF Press, January 21, 2022)
    Prisoners who escaped and were caught by the SDF forces (SDF Press, January 21, 2022)
    Prisoners who escaped and were caught by the SDF forces

    • Press Secretary for the US Department of Defense John Kirby noted that the US had provided the Kurdish forces with real-time surveillance and limited ground support during the fighting. US planes carried out several airstrikes against ISIS operatives who attacked SDF fighters from buildings in the area (www.militarytimes.com, January 24, 2022).
    The Idlib region
    • This week, exchanges of artillery fire continued between Syrian soldiers and forces supporting the Syrian army, and the rebel organizations in the Idlib enclave. The Syrian army and the forces supporting it fired artillery at the southern part of the rebel enclave (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 22, 2022).
    The desert region (Al-Badia)
    • The Russian Air Force continued to attack ISIS targets in the desert region. Eight ISIS operatives were reportedly killed in the airstrikes, and 10 others were wounded (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 20, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor and Al-Mayadeen
    • On January 24, 2022, an SDF base was targeted by gunfire in Suwaidan, in the Dhiban region, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. An SDF fighter was wounded (Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • On January 24, 2022, an SDF roadblock was targeted by gunfire near Al-Jasemi, in the Al-Sour region, about 50 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. One SDF fighter was killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • On January 24, 2022, two SDF bases in Dhiban were targeted by gunfire. SDF fighters in the area fled and the bases were damaged. Forces arriving on the scene to provide assistance were targeted by gunfire and several SDF fighters were wounded (Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • On January 22, 2022, an SDF base in Dhiban was attacked. Several SDF fighters were wounded and the base sustained damage (Telegram, January 22, 2022). The day before, three SDF bases in the area were also targeted by gunfire and buildings were damaged (Telegram, January 21, 2022).
    • On January 22, 2022, an SDF vehicle was targeted by gunfire on the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Hasakah highway. The vehicle was put out of commission and the passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 22, 2022).
    • On January 22, 2022, a coordinated attack was carried out against three SDF roadblocks north of Deir ez-Zor. After exchanges of fire, ISIS operatives took over the site. Some of the SDF fighters were killed, some were wounded, and others fled the scene (Telegram, January 22, 2022).
    • On January 21, 2022, an SDF headquarters was targeted by gunfire about 40 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. Fire broke out in the area, causing the explosion of ammunition in the headquarters. The site sustained damage. The SDF academy at the headquarters was targeted by gunfire and was damaged (Telegram, January 21, 2022).
    Al-Hasakah region
    • On January 22, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked an SDF base on the Al-Hasakah-Al-Shadadi highway, about 50 km south of Al-Hasakah. The base sustained damage (Telegram, January 22, 2022).
    Al-Raqqah region
    • On January 23, 2022, an IED was activated against a police roadblock of the SDF forces in Al-Karamah, east of Al-Raqqah. Policemen on the site were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 23, 2022).
    • On January 22, 2022, an SDF police base was targeted by gunfire in Al-Karamah. The site sustained damage (Telegram, January 22, 2022). The day before, an SDF intelligence center in the same area was targeted by gunfire and sustained damage (Telegram, January 22, 2022).
    • On January 20, 2022, an SDF roadblock was targeted by gunfire in the Al-Hadiqah al-Baydaa area in Al-Raqqah. Several SDF fighters were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 22, 2022).
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    Attacks by province[1]
    Kirkuk Province
    • On January 21, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police foot patrol south of Daquq, in south Kirkuk. Several policemen were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 21, 2022).
    Al-Anbar Province
    • On January 18, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle west of Al-Rutba, in western Iraq. The vehicle was put out of commission and the passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 19, 2022).
    • On January 17, 2022, mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army post near Al-Rutba. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified (Telegram, January 19, 2022).
    Mortar shells being fired at an Iraqi army post (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022)
    Mortar shells being fired at an Iraqi army post (

    Diyala Province
    • On January 21, 2022, an Iraqi army headquarters was targeted by gunfire west of the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah. A total of 11 soldiers, including their commander, were killed. After firing, ISIS operatives destroyed a vehicle and seized weapons and ammunition (Telegram, January 21, 2022). Official Iraqi sources confirmed the above (Rudaw, January 21, 2022).
    Counterterrorism measures
    Baghdad Province
    • The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced that in north Baghdad, the Iraqi security forces had killed three ISIS would-be suicide bombers who were involved in activity against the security forces. The three operatives were wearing explosive belts (Al-Furat News, January 19, 2022).
    Diyala Province
    • The Iraqi army exposed three ISIS hiding places containing IEDs, mortar shells, rockets, and a canister of plastic explosives (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Twitter account, January 24, 2022).
    Salah al-Din Province
    • On January 24, 2022, the Iraqi Air Force attacked ISIS targets in the Makhoul Mountains, about 15 km north of Baiji. At least two ISIS operatives were reportedly killed (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Twitter account, January 24, 2022).
    Sinai Peninsula
    • Three Egyptian soldiers and, according to another report, also a captain, were killed in the explosion of an IED in a military vehicle south of Bir al-Abd. The explosion reportedly occurred several hours after armed men arrived in the area and abducted six civilians (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, January 25, 2022; Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • Local sources reported that 13 Egyptian officers and soldiers were killed or wounded in an attack by armed men, apparently ISIS operatives, in an ambush in the Joura area, south of Sheikh Zuweid (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, January 19, 2022). This incident was unusual in its scope. So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
    Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
    Weekly summary of ISIS’s activity
    • An infographic published by ISIS summing up its activity around the world in the period between January 13 and January 19, 2022, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 33 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 35 attacks in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out by ISIS’s West Africa Province (13). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (9); Iraq (6); Central Africa (3); Syria (1); and Libya (1). A total of 72 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 120 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Khorasan Province (28). The other casualties were in the following provinces: West Africa (20); Iraq (17); Central Africa (3); Libya (3); and Syria (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022).
    ISIS attacks in figures (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022)
    ISIS attacks in figures

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

    ISIS activity in Africa[2]

    Nigeria
    • On January 25, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in Mararaba Bio, in Borno State, in the northeast of the country. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On January 22, 2022, shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in Goniri, about 45 km southeast of Damaturu, in northeastern Nigeria. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    Shells being fired at a Nigerian army base (Telegram, January 24, 2022)
    Shells being fired at a Nigerian army base (Telegram, January 24, 2022)
    Shells being fired at a Nigerian army base (Telegram, January 24, 2022)


    On January 21, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army vehicle on the Kawari-Mairi highway in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers were killed or wounded.

    • On January 20, 2022, the Christian village of Bimi in northeastern Nigeria was attacked. One resident was killed. In addition, two churches and several residential buildings were set on fire.
    One of the churches set on fire by ISIS operatives.
    One of the churches set on fire by ISIS operatives
    ISIS operatives setting fire to residential buildings (Telegram, January 24, 2022)
    ISIS operatives setting fire to residential buildings


    On January 19, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army vehicle on the Katafila-Mararaba highway in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. The vehicle was destroyed and its passengers were killed (Telegram, January 20, 2022). An IED was activated in the same place the day before. One soldier was killed.

    • On January 19, 2022, a mortar shell was fired at a Nigerian army base in Mararaba, in Borno State. According to ISIS, a definite hit was identified.
    • On January 18, 2022, an IED was activated against a vehicle of a militia loyal to the Nigerian army near Dikwa, about 50 km from the Nigeria-Cameroon border. The vehicle was destroyed and around five of those on board were killed or wounded.
    • On January 14, 2021, the Christian village of Kawatikari in Borno State was attacked. Two residents were killed and ISIS operatives set fire to a church and several residential buildings.
    The church going up in flames (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022)
    The church going up in flames
    ISIS operatives setting fire to a church in Kawatikari
    ISIS operatives setting fire to a church in Kawatikari
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • A Congolese army patrol was ambushed on the Beni-Ituri highway, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. Three soldiers were killed. ISIS operatives seized ammunition.
    Somalia
    • A grenade was thrown at a Somali police checkpoint in the Qaran neighborhood of Mogadishu. Two policemen were wounded.
    Libya
    • A vehicle belonging to General Haftar’s army was targeted by gunfire on the Umm Al-Araneb-Al-Qatroun highway south of Sabha (about 650 km south of Tripoli). According to ISIS, two Haftar’s army soldiers were killed and the vehicle was put out of commission (Telegram, January 24, 2022). It should be noted that this is the second attack carried out by ISIS operatives in the region in the past two weeks.

    Asia

    Yemen
    • On January 21, 2022, the SITE Group (which studies terrorist organizations and activity) announced the death of Saleh bin Salem bin Obeid, one of the commanders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He was reportedly killed in an attack by the US army in Yemen (by an unmanned aircraft, according to one version). According to Rita Katz, a terrorism researcher and the founder of the group, Al-Qaeda did not specify the date or location of his death. He was apparently killed in an attack on November 14. Bin Obeid was close to former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (Reuters, January 21, 2022).
    Afghanistan
    • This week, ISIS continued its activity in Afghanistan against Taliban members and government institutions. Most of the attacks took the form of activating IEDs against vehicles. The details of the incidents are as follows:
    • On January 25, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in the Kama region in the Nangarhar Province. All four of those on board were wounded (Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • On January 23, 2022, a Taliban member was killed in Taloqan, in the Takhar Province, in northeastern Afghanistan (Telegram, January 25, 2022).
    • On January 23, 2022, a Taliban member was targeted by gunfire in Taloqan. He was killed and his weapon was seized (Telegram, January 24, 2022).
    • On January 22, 2022, an IED was activated against a minibus carrying Shiite residents in Herat, in the Herat Province in western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran. The minibus was destroyed and about 20 passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, January 23, 2022). According to official sources, at least six people were killed in the incident. According to a local source who refused to identify himself, three people were seriously wounded (Reuters, January 20, 2022).
    • On January 19, 2022, a local official reported that at least four Taliban members, including a commander, were killed by shots fired at their vehicle in the Kunar Province, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is believed to have been carried out by ISIS (gandhara.rferl.org, January 19, 2022).
    The battle for hearts and minds
    • The lead article in this week’s issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to a video released by the West Africa Province entitled “Generation of Empowerment[3].” In the article, which bears the same title as the video, the author claims that the Christian West thought that by dropping bombs on training camps and institutions that groomed the adolescents (known as the “Lion Cubs of the Caliphate”) in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, they could destroy the training program and the Islamic State. However, the program continues to exist, since the infidels cannot eliminate the faith, which is the motive behind the activity. The author emphasizes the dedication and determination of the young trainees who appeared in the video to continue on the path of “jihad against the infidels until the liberation of Al-Aqsa, Rome and Andalusia [i.e., Spain].” He also notes that ISIS’s “Generation of Empowerment” will deal severe blows to the “infidels,” will spread throughout Africa and East Asia and will reach the ends of the earth (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022).
    The article on training the younger generation in Africa (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022)


    The article on training the younger generation in Africa
    (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 20, 2022)Full document in PDF format

    [1] Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [2] Mainly according to ISIS's claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [3] For more information on the video, see the ITIC’s publication from January 25, 2022: "ISIS’s West Africa Province Grooms the Organization’s Next Generation”

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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