The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (May 26 – June 1, 2022)
Main events of the past week
- A moderate increase in the scope of ISIS activity around the globe.
- According to senior Turkish officials, ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was detained in a raid by Turkish counterterrorism forces in a house where he was hiding in Istanbul.
- The Sinai Peninsula: The Egyptian security forces continued their counterterrorism efforts. Most of the effort was concentrated in the village of Al-Faytat, south of Sheikh Zuweid, which served as a stronghold for ISIS operatives and has been besieged by the Egyptian security forces since May 24, 2022. During the operation, several ISIS operatives were killed and numerous IEDs were found.
- Syria: The Syrian Air Force attacked ISIS targets in the desert region in the eastern part of the Hama Province. ISIS operatives carried out two small-scale attacks against the Kurdish SDF forces in the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region.
- Iraq: The number of ISIS attacks remained relatively small. The attacks were concentrated in the Kirkuk and Diyala provinces.
- Afghanistan: ISIS operatives activated three IEDs against three minibuses in Mazar-i Sharif. Nine people were killed and 15 others were wounded. An IED exploded in a mosque in the city of Kabul. ISIS is believed to be behind the incident.
- Africa: Continued counterterrorism activity by the African Coalition forces against ISIS’s West Africa Province and Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region. Operatives of ISIS’s Mozambique Province attacked Christian villages in the northeast of the country. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 27 people were killed by ISIS operatives in a village in the Beni region, near the Congo-Uganda border. In Burkina Faso, armed elements killed around 50 civilians near the border with Benin.
- The United States: The FBI announced that it had thwarted ISIS’s attempt on the life of former US President George W. Bush.
ISIS’s leader arrested in an Istanbul apartment
- On May 26, 2022, official sources in Turkey announced that ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had been arrested several days earlier in a raid by Turkish counterterrorism forces on an Istanbul apartment where he was hiding. According to the sources, he was arrested after the house where he was staying had been placed under surveillance. He was captured without any resistance, without even one shot being fired. The authorities have announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to issue an official announcement on the arrest in the next few days (OdaTV, May 26, 2022).
- It should be noted that the identity of ISIS’s leader has still not been disclosed. According to the prevailing assessments, he could be one of two people: Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai, an Iraqi born in 1975, AKA Zayd al-Iraqi, Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, Ustadh Zayd or Ustadh Daesh, who served as ISIS’s official in charge of the Education Bureau, and Juma Awad al-Badri, the brother of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s founder and first leader. According to a picture that was published, the detainee is apparently Al-Sumaidai. If this is true, this will be the first time that ISIS’s leader has been caught alive and he may be used as a valuable source of information on ISIS. Furthermore, this could be a serious blow to ISIS’s morale.
The Sinai Peninsula
- This week, the Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union concentrated their efforts in combing the area of the village of Al-Faytat, south of Sheikh Zuweid. The village, an ISIS stronghold, has been besieged by the Egyptian security forces since May 24, 2022. During the combing activity, the Egyptian security forces killed several ISIS operatives and located many IEDs and vehicles that had been used by ISIS.
- Six ISIS operatives were killed and two others were detained during the combing activity. The security forces located dozens of IEDs ready for use, a tunnel with large quantities of medical equipment, a truck and several vehicles that had been used by ISIS operatives (Sinai Tribal Union’s Twitter account, May 25, 2022). Another operative, apprehended on May 25, 2022 in the village of Al-Faytat, provided information on 35 IEDs planted by ISIS in the area (@WuBv7MDSpn8msqd Twitter account, May 25, 2022).
- On May 30, 2022, two ISIS operatives were killed and another turned himself in to the Egyptian security forces after the three men had been surrounded by the Egyptian security forces on the outskirts of the city of Sheikh Zuweid (Sinai Tribal Union’s Twitter account, May 30, 2022).
- On May 31, 2022, the Egyptian army and the Sinai Tribal Union carried out a controlled detonation of several IEDs planted by ISIS in the Al-Faytat region (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, May 31, 2022).
Ten ISIS operatives were killed in the northern Sinai (the exact location was not mentioned but it was probably in the Al-Faytat region) after their position had been exposed by the Egyptian army. Another ISIS operative, who was wounded and tried to escape, was caught. The security forces found about 40 hand grenades, several machine guns, TNT, explosive belts, mortars and mortar shells in the operatives’ possession (Egyptian army spokesman, May 29, 2022).
- An ISIS operative turned himself in along with his wife and children south of Sheikh Zuweid (@Drfatmasaad7709 Twitter account, May 24, 2022).
Mohammad Yahya Fayad, codenamed Abu Yahya, senior commander in ISIS’s Sinai Province, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, was reportedly killed in Sinai (@Ibrahim_Diab_ Twitter account, May 30, 2022). On May 31, 2022, the Egyptian security forces detained Hussam Abu Daraa, a senior commander in ISIS’s Sinai Province. He was caught while trying to escape from Sheikh Zuweid (Akhbar Sinaa al-Aan Facebook page, May 31, 2022).
ISIS’s propaganda video: In response to the blows sustained by ISIS in Al-Faytat this week and in the village of Muqata’a last week, the Al-Battar Media Foundation, which is affiliated with ISIS, released a 16-minute video which includes documentation of attacks carried out by ISIS’s Sinai Province in the past month. According to the video, ISIS is very active and records achievements, the most prominent of which is the attack at the security post of a water pumping facility near the Suez Canal and the attack against the natural gas pipe “which serves the Jews’ economy” and “enables the theft of natural gas from the shores of Haifa and Ashkelon in Palestine and pump it to Egypt through Sinai as part of the agreement between the two sides.” The video further claims that the Egyptian regime imposes a media ban on some of the incidents and on other occasions tries to belittle the incidents in the media (Telegram, May 27, 2022).
The Syrian arena
The Idlib region
- On May 27, 2022, there were heavy exchanges of fire between the rebel forces and the Syrian army and the forces supporting it in Jabal al-Akrad, northeast of the city of Latakia. No casualties were reported (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 27, 2022).
Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region
- On May 29, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked an SDF checkpoint in the village of Dhiban, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. An SDF fighter was wounded (Telegram, May 29, 2022).
- On May 26, 2022, ISIS operatives fired machine guns at the vehicle of an SDF commander in the village of Al-Jazra, west of Deir ez-Zor. He was wounded (Telegram, May 27, 2022).
The desert region (Al-Badia)
- The Syrian Air Force attacked ISIS targets in the desert region of the eastern Hama Province. There is an evident decrease in the Russian Air Force activity in Syria due to the concentration of Russian efforts in the war in Ukraine (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 26, 2022).
The Iraqi arena
ISIS attacks by province
- This week, ISIS’s attacks in Iraq remained relatively few in number. Attacks took place mainly in the provinces of Kirkuk and Diyala.
- On May 23, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked the village of Al-Islah, in the northern Jalula region, about 75 km northeast of Baqubah, killing five people and wounding nine. Some of the casualties were Iraqi soldiers (Al-Hurra, May 25, 2022). ISIS’s Iraq Province claimed responsibility for the attack, noting that the operatives fired machine guns at a Tribal Mobilization force near Al-Islah and at another force arriving to provide help. According to ISIS, 16 Tribal Mobilization fighters and Iraqi soldiers were killed in total (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
On May 27, 2022, ISIS operatives activated an IED against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Qara Tapa region, about 75 km north of Baqubah. The passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 27, 2022).
- On May 24, 2022, ISIS operatives attacked a Tribal Mobilization post in the Sharwin region. Two Tribal Mobilization fighters were killed and another was wounded (Telegram, May 25, 2022).
- Continuation of the economic war: On May 24, 2022, ISIS operatives set fire to grain owned by the “infidel” Kaka’i sect in the village of Zanqar, south of Daquq, in the southern part of the city of Kirkuk, and destroyed a transformer (Telegram, May 24, 2022). On May 23, 2022, ISIS operatives set fire to grain owned by Tribal Mobilization members in the village of Kawamat, in the Daquq region, and destroyed a transformer belonging to an Iraqi government “spy” (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- On May 28, 2022, ISIS operatives activated an IED against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Al-Dabas district, about 40 km west of Kirkuk. The passengers on board were wounded (Telegram, May 29, 2022).
Salah al-Din Province
- On May 26, 2022, ISIS operatives abducted a Tribal Mobilization fighter in the Al-Abaiji region, in the southern Salah al-Din Province. He was interrogated and then executed (Telegram, May 28, 2022).
Counterterrorism measures in Iraq
- On May 29, 2022, four ISIS operatives were killed in an Iraqi airstrike. Another operative was detained by ground forces. His interrogation revealed that he had been ISIS’s military official in charge in the area (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Facebook page, May 29, 2022).
- On May 27, 2022, the Iraqi security forces located ISIS explosives, IEDs, and equipment (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni Facebook page, May 27, 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 19 and May 25, 2022, indicates that the organization carried out 56 attacks in its various provinces around the globe (compared to 38 in the previous week). The largest number of attacks was carried out in the Iraq Province (17). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (14); West Africa (14); Central Africa (3); Mozambique (3); Sinai (2); Syria (2); and East Asia (Philippines) (1). A total of 204 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 84 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Khorasan Province (76). The other casualties were in the following provinces: West Africa (52); Iraq (33); East Asia (16); Central Africa (15); Mozambique (8); Sinai (3); and Syria (1) (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, May 26, 2022).
- The infographic indicates an increase in ISIS’s activity around the globe compared to the previous week. The increase was especially evident in Afghanistan and Africa, and a decrease was evident in Syria and Sinai.
ISIS attacks by week (according to ISIS data)
- Continued counterterrorism activity in Lake Chad: During the Lake Chad operation on May 19, 2022, forces from Nigeria and Chad operating within the African Coalition killed 25 operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province and seized weapons and ammunition that ISIS operatives had taken from the Coalition forces (prnigeria.com, May 29, 2022). On the night of May 24-25, 2022, a Nigerien force operating within the African Coalition killed more than 40 Boko Haram operatives in Lake Chad who were attempting to attack them (africanews.com, May 26, 2022). Musa Mani, a senior official of ISIS’s West Africa Province, reportedly surrendered to the Coalition Forces in Lake Chad (dailypost.ng, May 28, 2022).
- This week, operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province fought against local security forces near the town of Agiri, in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. Following are the details of the attacks, according to reports by ISIS’s West Africa Province:
- On May 26, 2022, three mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in the town of Agiri. No casualties or damage were reported (Telegram, May 27, 2022).
- On May 26, 2022, there was an exchange of fire with an African Coalition force near the town of Agiri. According to ISIS, its operatives managed to prevent the Coalition soldiers from advancing (Telegram, May 27, 2022).
- On May 24, 2022, two IEDs were activated against a Nigerian army patrol on the Agiri–Abadam highway in Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. Two vehicles were put out of commission and those on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 26, 2022).
- On May 19, 2022, a total of 24 “spies” were taken prisoner near the village of Rann, in Borno State, after surveillance revealed that they were monitoring ISIS positions and had killed an operative. According to the report, the “spies” were executed after being interrogated. At the same time, several prisoners were pardoned after it turned out that they were not spies (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
- According to a report by the Congolese army and the Red Cross, 27 civilians were killed on May 28, 2022 in the village of Beu Manyama in the Beni region, near the Congo-Uganda border. According to the report, they were killed by the ADF, which belongs to ISIS’s Central Africa Province. Congolese security forces pursued the assailants, killing seven and detaining one (Al-Jazeera, May 29, 2022).
- According to announcements by ISIS’s West Africa Province:
- On May 25, 2022, three mortar shells were fired at two Chadian army positions in the village of Litri and in the village of Kiga, on the Chad-Nigeria border and in the Lake Chad region (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
On May 22, 2022, a Chadian army checkpoint was attacked in the Litri region. Three soldiers were killed and the rest fled (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- On May 22, 2022, a Chadian army post in the village of Kiga was attacked by machine gun fire. Three soldiers were wounded (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- This week, ISIS stepped up its attacks against Christian villages in the province of Cabo Delgado, in northeastern Mozambique. According to ISIS’s Mozambique Province:
- On May 30, 2022, ISIS operatives infiltrated the village of Pretoria in the Miloko region, in the province of Cabo Delgado, setting fire to several houses (Telegram, May 30, 2022). In another incident, ISIS operatives broke into the village of Nemituko in the Miloko area, setting fire to houses in the village (Telegram, May 30, 2022).
- Vicente Chicote, commander of the Cabo Delgado County Police Department, reported two incidents in the province of Macomia: on May 20, 2022, terrorists raided a village in the province, beheaded three civilians and abducted several women. On May 25, 2022, there were arson attacks in a village in the region (af24news.com, May 25, 2022).
- According to an official source, on May 22, 2022, terrorists attacked the village of Chikumo, in the Macomia region, and exchanged fire with military forces (af24news.com, May 25, 2022). ISIS’s Mozambique Province confirmed the report, noting that ISIS operatives had indeed attacked the village, killed a Christian civilian, set fire to houses and seized property belonging to residents (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- According to an announcement by ISIS’s Mozambique Province, on May 21, 2022, its operatives attacked the village of Najida, in the Macomia region (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- On May 25, 2022, armed elements killed about 50 male civilians in the town of Madjoari, in eastern Burkina Faso, near the border with Benin. It is estimated that elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda or ISIS were behind the massacre (AFP, May 26, 2022).
- According to an announcement by ISIS’s Somalia Province, on May 26, 2022, its operatives activated an IED against several policemen in the city of Mogadishu. Three policemen were wounded (Telegram, May 26, 2022).
- According to a security source, on May 31, 2022, Boko Haram operatives attacked the village of Hitaoua, in northern Cameroon, killing at least three Nigerian soldiers and four civilians (Xinhua, May 31, 2022).
- On May 30, 2022, the Libyan army took over the city of Al-Qatrun, in the south of the country, due to the presence of terrorist elements in the city. The army destroyed six vehicles equipped with weapons and detained a senior ISIS official by the name of Abu Mu’adh al-Tashani (Sky News, May 30, 2022).
- Explosion of IEDs in three minibuses in Mazar-i Sharif: On May 25, 2022, IEDs exploded in three minibuses in the city of Mazar-i Sharif, in northern Afghanistan. Nine people were killed and 15 others were wounded (Reuters, May 25, 2022; Al-Arabiya, May 26, 2022). ISIS’s Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attacks, noting that 30 Shiites (“objectors”) were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 25, 2022).
- IED explosion in a mosque in Kabul: On May 25, 2022, an IED exploded in a mosque in the city of Kabul. According to the Afghan Interior Ministry, two people were killed and 10 others were wounded. However, medical sources noted that five bodies and 17 wounded arrived at a hospital in the city following the incident. ISIS is believed to be behind the incident, although no one has claimed responsibility so far (AP and Reuters, May 25, 2022).
- IED explosion against a Taliban vehicle: On May 29, 2022, ISIS operatives detonated an IED against a Taliban vehicle in the city of Kabul. The three people on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, May 29, 2022).
- ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly published an infographic summing up the activity of the Khorasan Province on May 19-25, 2022. According to the infographic, operatives of the province carried out 14 attacks, consisting of a suicide bombing, eight IED attacks and five targeted killings. A total of 76 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, including 44 Shiite civilians, 29 Taliban members, and three Pakistani policemen. Three high-voltage pylons were destroyed in the attacks, and 10 vehicles were put out of commission or destroyed (Al-Naba, Telegram, May 26, 2022).
A UN report states that the Taliban still maintains close ties with Al-Qaeda. This despite denials from both the Taliban administration and Al-Qaeda. According to the report, this is reflected, inter alia, in the frequent publication of videos of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is apparently in Afghanistan. The report estimates that there are 180-400 Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. The operatives came from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Myanmar, and enjoy freedom of action in the country (tolonews.com, May 29, 2022).
- Operatives of ISIS’s Khorasan Province continued to attack local government military and police forces in the city of Peshawar, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border:
- On May 29, 2022, an attack was carried out against a post of the Pakistan Police. One policeman was wounded (Telegram, May 30, 2022).
- On May 25, 2022, a Pakistani army officer was shot dead (Telegram, May 25, 2022).
- On May 24, 2022, a Pakistani soldier was wounded by gunfire (Telegram, May 24, 2022).
- According to an announcement by ISIS’s East Asia Province, on May 25, 2022, its operatives exchanged fire with Philippine army forces in the village of Bindatin, in the Datu Salibo region, in Mindanao, in the southern Philippines. According to ISIS, six soldiers were killed and 10 others were wounded, and the operatives returned to their positions unscathed (Telegram, May 25, 2022). Official sources in the Philippines did not comment on the report.
- On May 25, 2022, a bomb exploded in a bus in the city of Koronadal, on the island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines. Two passengers were wounded. According to the Philippine police, ISIS-affiliated terrorist organizations BIFF and MAUTE are behind the incident (philstar.com, May 27, 2022).
The United States
- On May 24, 2022, the FBI announced that it had thwarted an attempt on the life of former US President George W. Bush. The assassination attempt was foiled based on intelligence that Shihab Abd Shihab, an Iraqi national living in Ohio who has ties with senior ISIS figures in Iraq, had planned the assassination. As part of the plan, he intended to smuggle four ISIS operatives to the United States through the border with Mexico to help him carry out the assassination. The assassination was planned as an act of revenge on President Bush for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. In addition, the FBI investigation revealed that a US general who took part in the invasion of Iraq was also a target for assassination by the accused (CBS, May 24, 2022).
- Mirsad Kandic, a 40-year-old Brooklyn resident and a senior ISIS official, has been convicted of supporting a terrorist organization, spreading the organization’s propaganda, recruiting Western operatives to the organization, and smuggling weapons for the organization in Syria. In 2013, Kandic made his way to Syria, where he fought in the ranks of ISIS. He later moved to Turkey, where he smuggled Western operatives into Syria. In 2017 he was arrested in Bosnia and extradited to the US authorities (US Department of Justice, May 25, 2022).
- On May 30, 2022, Lisa Smith, a 40-year-old former Irish army officer who converted to Islam, was convicted by a Dublin court of membership in ISIS and fundraising for it. Smith arrived in Syria in 2014, where she joined the ranks of ISIS. In 2015, she transferred 800 euros to ISIS (The Independent, May 30, 2022).
Additional ISIS attacks (according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility)
- On May 23, 2022, ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a patrol of the Iraqi police and the Tribal Mobilization in the village of Al-Mujaybarah in the Al-Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of the city of Kirkuk. One member of the patrol was wounded (Telegram, May 25, 2022).
- On May 24, 2022, a Nigerian army checkpoint was targeted by machine gun fire and three mortar shells on the Fish Dam–Yarwa Bolin highway in Borno State. No casualties or damage were reported (Telegram, May 25, 2022).
- On May 29, 2022, a Taliban “spy” was abducted in the Nangarhar Province. He was later executed (Telegram, May 30, 2022).
 According to ISIS claims of responsibility and the Iraqi media ↑
 The kaka’i religion is influenced by the Shi’a and the Zoroastrian religion and is considered infidel by ISIS. ↑
 To use its official name: the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), consisting of forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. ↑