The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (January 27 – February 2, 2022)

    Main events of the past week
    • Syria: After about 10 days of fighting in the Al-Sina’ah-Ghuwayran Prison in Al-Hasakah and its environs, the Kurdish SDF forces announced an end to the fighting and the elimination of all the ISIS pockets of resistance in the region. According to a statement issued following the investigation of the events, they managed to prevent an incident on a much larger scale[1]. In the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region, ISIS continued its attacks against the SDF forces. The Kurdish forces detained 27 ISIS operatives on the eastern outskirts of Al-Raqqah.
    • Iraq: ISIS continued its relatively low level of activity against the Iraqi army and the forces supporting it. Afghanistan: There was also a decrease in the volume of ISIS activity against the Taliban forces this week.
    • In Africa, there was an increase in the scope of ISIS activity this week. Nigeria: ISIS continued to carry out attacks against the Nigerian army in the northeast of the country. Niger: ISIS operatives attacked a Nigerien army post in the southeast of the country. Several soldiers were killed or wounded. Mozambique: ISIS operatives attacked a Christian village in the northeast of the country, exchanging fire with an army force. Cameroon: ISIS operatives attacked a joint post of the African Coalition forces in the north of the country.
    • Libya: Following the increase in ISIS activity in the past two weeks, the Libyan army led by General Haftar has been targeting ISIS squads in the region between the Al-Qatrun region, in southwestern Libya, and the Libya-Chad border. During the operation, hiding places and weapons belonging to ISIS operatives were found. A total of 24 ISIS operatives of various nationalities were killed.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: A large portion of ISIS’s weekly is devoted to turning the fighting at the Al-Sina’ah-Ghuwayran Prison in Al-Hasakah into a myth of heroism.
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)


    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

    Al-Hasakah region
    • After about 10 days of intensive fighting in the prison and its environs, on January 30, 2022, the SDF forces announced the end of the fighting around the prison and the elimination of all ISIS pockets of resistance in the area (SDF Press, January 30, 2022).
    • An investigation of the events published by the SDF reveals the following details (SDF Press, January 31, 2022):
    • The attack on the prison was launched after long preparations by ISIS.
    • It was carried out by a number of suicide bombers (the precise number was not mentioned).
    • The incident started after a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at the prison gate. After the explosion, ISIS operatives attacked the prison from three directions. At the same time, inmates began to attack the prison staff.
    • At this stage, a truck loaded with weapons and ammunition arrived at the prison gate so that escaping prisoners could equip themselves with weapons and ammunition while fleeing.
    • According to the Kurdish forces, ISIS planned to have the escaping prisoners equip themselves with weapons and expand the fighting to neighborhoods adjacent to the prison (Al-Zohour and Ghuwayran) and also attack military and civilian institutions of the Kurdish autonomous administration. According to the Kurdish forces, they managed to thwart that plan after besieging the prison, the buildings of the nearby university, where several prisoners had fled, and the neighborhoods near the prison (SDF Press, January 31, 2022).[2]
    The Idlib region
    • This week as well, exchanges of artillery fire continued between Syrian soldiers and forces supporting the Syrian army, and the rebel organizations in the Idlib enclave.
    The desert region (Al-Badia)
    • The Russian Air Force continued to attack ISIS targets in the desert region between the provinces of Al-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 31, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor and Al-Mayadeen
    • On January 30, 2022, the SDF forces detained five ISIS operatives in Dhiban, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. They found weapons and documents indicating their involvement in terrorist attacks (SDF Press, January 30, 2022).
    ISIS operatives being detained (SDF Press, January 30, 2022)


    ISIS operatives being detained (SDF Press, January 30, 2022)

    • On January 25, 2022, ISIS operatives fired at an SDF vehicle in Al-Sha’fa, about 10 km north of Albukamal. According to ISIS, an SDF fighter on board was killed (Telegram, January 26, 2022).
    • On January 24, 2022, an SDF base was targeted by gunfire in Al-Khariji, north of Deir ez-Zor. Five fighters were killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, January 26, 2022).
    • On January 24, 2022, an SDF base was targeted by gunfire in Suwaidan, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. An SDF fighter was wounded (Telegram, January 26, 2022).
    Al-Raqqah region
    • On January 26, 2022, ISIS operatives beheaded an SDF fighter whom they had captured in his car south of Al-Raqqah (Telegram, January 26, 2022).

    Counterterrorism measures

    • As part of the fighting against ISIS, the SDF forces detained 27 ISIS operatives east of Al-Raqqah (SDF Press, January 31, 2022).
    ISIS operatives detained by the Kurdish forces (SDF Press, January 31, 2022)


    ISIS operatives detained by the Kurdish forces (SDF Press, January 31, 2022)

    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)


    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    Attacks by province[3]

    Kirkuk Province
    • On January 31, 2022, an Iraqi police base was targeted by gunfire in the Riyad region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk. Two policemen were killed and another was wounded.
    • On January 25, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police vehicle in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. The passengers were killed or wounded. In addition, a joint patrol of the Iraqi police and the Tribal Mobilization forces was ambushed and attacked in the area. Several fighters were killed or wounded, including a chief superintendent.
    Al-Anbar Province
    • On January 27, 2022, a Tribal Mobilization vehicle was attacked in the Akashat region, east of Al-Qaim, near the Iraqi-Syrian border. It was put out of commission and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    The attack against the vehicle (Telegram, January 27, 2022)


    The attack against the vehicle (Telegram, January 27, 2022)

    Diyala Province
    • On January 28, 2022, an Iraqi army commando force was targeted by gunfire. The force was trying to ambush ISIS operatives in the Mutaybijah region, about 10 km north of Baghdad. One fighter was killed and two others were wounded.
    • On January 26, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army foot patrol in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah. Three soldiers were wounded, including a lieutenant colonel.
    Salah al-Din Province
    • On January 29, 2022, an Iraqi army base was attacked on the Haditha-Baiji road. One soldier was killed and two others were wounded.
    • On January 27, 2022, an Iraqi army post was targeted by gunfire west of Tuz Khormato, about 100 km northeast of Samarra. Two soldiers were wounded. The day after, mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army ambush in the area. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified (Telegram, January 28, 2022).
    Mortar shells being fired by ISIS against an Iraqi army force (Telegram, January 28, 2022)
    Mortar shells being fired by ISIS against an Iraqi army force (Telegram, January 28, 2022)


    Mortar shells being fired by ISIS against an Iraqi army force (Telegram, January 28, 2022)

    Nineveh Province
    • On January 29, 2022, mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army base in Al-Sahaji, south of Mosul. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified. Two days later, on January 31, 2022, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in the same place. The vehicle was put out of commission and the two passengers on board were wounded.

    Counterterrorism measures

    Diyala Province
    • The Iraqi Air Force carried out an airstrike in the Al-Azim region, killing three Lebanese ISIS operatives (Al-Sumaria, January 29, 2022).
    Salah al-Din Province
    • The Iraqi Air Force carried out an airstrike in the Tarmiyah region, about 30 km north of Baghdad, killing Adwan Farhan Jaffal, codenamed Abu Sayf, who had been ISIS’s deputy governor of North Baghdad (Al-Sumaria, January 31, 2022).
    Nineveh Province
    • Five ISIS operatives were killed in an Iraqi army airstrike in the Al-Khadr Desert, in the south of the province (Al-Sumaria, February 2, 2022).
    Sinai Peninsula
    • Civilians were wounded in two incidents, apparently by ISIS:
    • On January 30, 2022, two civilians were wounded by shrapnel from a mine explosion in the Tarabin neighborhood, south of Sheikh Zuweid (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, January 30, 2022).
    • On January 25, 2022, a worker in one of the Egyptian army engineering projects in Rafah was seriously wounded by gunfire (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, January 26, 2022).
    • Amaq News Agency, ISIS’s media arm, released a video showing the wreckage of an Egyptian army ATV which, according to ISIS, was destroyed on January 25, 2022, by the activation of an IED west of Bir al-Abd, in North Sinai (Telegram, January 28, 2022).
    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 20 and January 26, 2022, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 49 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 33 attacks in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out by ISIS’s Syria Province (31). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: West Africa (6); Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (4); Iraq (3); Somalia (2); Sinai (1); Central Africa (1); and Libya (1). A total of 352 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 72 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Syria Province (284). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Khorasan (28); Iraq (18); West Africa (7); Sinai (6); Central Africa (3); Libya (3); and Somalia (3) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 27, 2022). What caused the rise in the number of casualties in Syria was the fighting at the prison in Al-Hasakah.
    The infographic as it appeared in Al-Naba' weekly (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, January 27, 2022)


    The infographic as it appeared in Al-Naba’ weekly
    (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 27, 2022)

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

    ISIS activity in Africa[4]

    Nigeria
    • On January 29, 2022, a Nigerian army camp was targeted by gunfire in Ajiri, in northeastern Nigeria. One soldier was killed. ISIS operatives set fire to the camp and seized weapons.
    ISIS operatives setting fire to the camp (Telegram, January 31, 2022)
    Attack on the camp.


    Right: Attack on the camp. Left: ISIS operatives setting fire to the camp
    (Telegram, January 31, 2022)

    • On January 26, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army foot patrol in the area between Katafila and Mararia, in northeastern Nigeria. At least seven soldiers were killed and several others were wounded.
    • On January 26, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army camp in Boratai, in northeastern Nigeria. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    Niger
    • On January 29, 2022, a Nigerien army camp was targeted by gunfire in the Diffa region, in southeastern Niger, on the Niger-Nigeria border. Several soldiers were killed or wounded.
    Cameroon
    • On January 24, 2022, a joint post of the African Coalition forces was attacked in the Kousséri region in northern Cameroon, near the border with Chad. Three Coalition fighters were killed and several others were wounded. Another fighter, a Chadian soldier, was abducted. ISIS operatives set fire to buildings and seized weapons and five motorcycles.
    Weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives in the attack (Telegram, January 27, 2022)
    Chadian soldier who was abducted.


    Right: Chadian soldier who was abducted. Left: Weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives in the attack (Telegram, January 27, 2022)

    The five motorcycles seized by ISIS operatives (Telegram, January 27, 2022)


    The five motorcycles seized by ISIS operatives (Telegram, January 27, 2022)

    Mozambique
    • On January 28, 2022, an attack was carried out against the Christian village of Mahibi, in the Miloku region, in northeastern Mozambique. There was an exchange of fire with a Mozambican army patrol. One soldier was killed. ISIS operatives set fire to residential homes in the village and seized property belonging to the residents.
    Somalia
    • On January 29, 2022, an IED was activated against a vehicle carrying the commander of the Qaran region police in Mogadishu. One of the passengers was killed, and four others were wounded, including the commander.
    Libya
    • Apparently, in the wake of recent events, the Libyan army, led by General Haftar, carried out an operation against ISIS squads in the region between Al-Qatrun, in southwestern Libya, and the Libya-Chad border. During the operation, the fighters located hiding places of ISIS operatives, vehicles and weapons. A total of 24 ISIS operatives of various nationalities were killed. Another operative was detained. Four soldiers were also killed in the operation. According to Haftar’s Army, ISIS operatives in the region are equipped with modern weapons and are in contact with the ISIS operatives in the neighboring countries, implicitly Chad, Niger and Algeria (Al-Massar TV, January 28, 2022; Sky News, January 29, 2022).
    ISIS vehicles targeted by Haftar’s Army in the Al-Qatrun region (Al-Massar TV, January 28, 2022)
    Hiding place used by ISIS operatives in the Al-Qatrun region.


    Right: Hiding place used by ISIS operatives in the Al-Qatrun region. Left: ISIS vehicles targeted by Haftar’s Army in the Al-Qatrun region (Al-Massar TV, January 28, 2022)

    Asia

    Afghanistan
    • This week, ISIS continued its activity in Afghanistan against the Taliban, albeit on a relatively low scale. The details of the incidents are as follows:
    • On January 30, 2022, two Taliban members were targeted by gunfire in the Sarkani region of Kunar, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. One was killed and the other was wounded (Telegram, January 31, 2022).
    • 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 24, 2022, a Taliban vehicle was targeted by gunfire in Takhtasha, in the Logar Province, in eastern Afghanistan. Two Taliban members were killed and a third was wounded (Telegram, January 26, 2022).
    The battle for hearts and minds
    • A large part of ISIS’s weekly, which was published in the midst of the fighting in the Al-Hasakah region, was devoted to the fighting at the Al-Sina’ah-Ghuwayran Prison, in an attempt to transform it into a myth of heroism. In an article entitled “The Ghuwayran Battle and the Last Pocket [i.e., The Last Pocket of Resistance]”, the author creates an analogy between the battle in Al-Hasakah and the fighting over the last pocket of resistance in Al-Baghouz in March 2019. According to the author, the “heroes of Al-Baghouz” are the ones who brought about the “Ghuwayran Epic.” Addressing the prison inmates, the author notes that the battle in Ghuwayran is only one page out of the book of revenge, and the victories of the Islamic State have not yet come to an end. He calls on them to be optimistic and promises that ISIS will not forget them and will do everything in its power to liberate them  (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 27, 2022).

    [1] For more information, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from February 1, 2022: “ISIS’s takeover of the prison in Al-Hasakah, which it presents as an achievement, may bring about additional such actions”. ↑
    [2] For more information, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from February 1, 2022: “ISIS’s takeover of the prison in Al-Hasakah, which it presents as an achievement, may bring about additional such actions”. ↑
    [3] Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [4] Mainly according to ISIS's claims of responsibility posted on Telegram

    SOURCE: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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