The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (January 13-19, 2021)

    Main events of the past week
    • An Islamic anti-Semitic terrorist attack was carried out in the United States this week. A man armed with a gun broke into a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas during Sabbath services and held four worshipers hostage. He demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of terrorist activity and serving a lengthy sentence in a Texas prison. A few hours later, the hostages were released and the terrorist, a 44-year-old Muslim with British citizenship, was killed.
    • There was a decrease in activity in ISIS’s provinces this week:
    • Syria: ISIS operatives carried out several attacks against the Kurdish SDF forces in the Deir ez-Zor region. Leaflets warning the residents not to collaborate with the Kurdish forces were also distributed in the region. In the desert region: Russian Air Force planes carried out dozens of airstrikes against ISIS targets.
    • Iraq: This week, there was a decrease in the scope of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces. The Iraqi army and the forces supporting it continued their counterterrorism activity.
    • Africa: ISIS continued its activity in Mozambique, especially against Christian villages in the northwest of the country. In Nigeria: ISIS continued its activity, targeting mainly the security forces in the northeast of the country.
    • The media office of the West Africa Province released a video entitled “Empowering the Generation.” The video documents the training of adolescent boys at an ISIS training camp, including their daily schedule and the content of their religious and military training.
    • Afghanistan: This week, there was an increase in ISIS’s activity throughout the country. Most of the activity took the form of activating IEDs against Taliban vehicles.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: The lead article in this week’s issue of Al-Naba’ weekly is devoted to encouraging ISIS operatives to continue their activity, stressing that the victory of Islam will be achieved through those who adhere to Islam, and those who are willing to suffer and stand the test of faith in order to achieve their goal.
    • This week’s issue also includes an infographic on the importance of propaganda activity, with the intention of encouraging ISIS’s operatives and supporters to increase their propaganda efforts and to join jihad.
    The United States
    • On January 15, 2022, an armed man broke into the Congregation Beth Israel Reform Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas during Sabbath services. He held four worshipers hostage, including the rabbi of the synagogue, demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui from prison. Siddiqui is a Pakistani scientist known as Lady Al-Qaeda who was convicted of seven charges in 2010, including attempted murder and armed assault of American officers in Afghanistan. She is serving an 86-year prison sentence at a Texas facility (not far from the synagogue)[1] (CNN, January 17, 2022). During the attack, the terrorist claimed that Aafia was his sister and threatened the hostages (Reuters, NBC and CNN, January 15, 2022).
    • After about six hours, local police in Texas announced that one of the hostages had been released and the FBI was still handling the incident (Texas Police Twitter account, January 15, 2022). About 10 hours after the incident began, an FBI rescue team broke into the synagogue, rescuing the three remaining hostages unscathed. The perpetrator was shot and killed by the forces.
    • The FBI later revealed that he was Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old Muslim with British citizenship. Akram arrived in the United States about five weeks before the attempted attack. A US law enforcement source noted that Akram was not on the US government’s watch list. The British authorities say he was known to MI5. According to an NBC report, two of the suspect’s minor sons were arrested in Britain on suspicion of involvement, since they were in contact with him at the time of the incident (www.now14.co.il, January 16, 2022; The Times of Israel, January 16, 2022).
    • Elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS expressed support for the terrorist on social media. For example, an ISIS supporter expressed hope on his Twitter page that such operations would recur, in order to apply pressure for the release of “Aafia Siddiqui and her sisters.” An Al-Qaeda supporter also expressed hope that the incident would pave the way for similar and more organized operations for the release of Muslim prisoners (MEMRI, January 18, 2022).
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)


    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

    The Idlib region
    • This week, exchanges of artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel organizations in the Idlib enclave. The Syrian army and the forces supporting it fired artillery at the northwestern part of the rebel enclave (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 16, 2022).
    The desert region (Al-Badia)
    • Russian fighter jets carried out several dozen airstrikes against ISIS targets, mostly in the Rasafah Desert, about 40 km southeast of Al-Raqqah. A total of 11 ISIS operatives were killed in airstrikes carried out between Palmyra and Al-Sukhnah (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 2022).
    • Since the beginning of January 2022, the Russian Air Force reportedly carried out 334 airstrikes in the Syrian Desert (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 16, 2022).
    Deir ez-Zor and Al-Mayadeen
    • On January 17, 2022, the SDF forces, with the support of the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS, killed an ISIS commander in the eastern rural area of Deir ez-Zor. The dead commander, a resident of Al-Mayadeen, commanded a group of ISIS operatives east of the Euphrates. The fighters found an explosive belt and weapons in the place where he was killed (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 18, 2022).
    • On January 16, 2022, ISIS operatives fired at an SDF checkpoint east of Deir ez-Zor. There was an exchange of fire and the ISIS operatives fled the scene. No casualties were reported (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 16, 2022).
    • On January 14, 2022, ISIS operatives abducted and executed four pro-Iranian militia fighters in the Duweir region, east of Deir ez-Zor (Jisr, January 15, 2022). Several days before, ISIS operatives killed a surgeon. ISIS published posters claiming responsibility for killing the doctor, on the grounds that he was a traitor who assisted the Kurdish forces and their supporters. ISIS also used the poster to threaten collaborators with the Kurdish forces (Jisr, January 14, 2022).
    Poster issued by ISIS claiming responsibility for killing the doctor (Jisr, January 14, 2022)


    Poster issued by ISIS claiming responsibility for killing the doctor (Jisr, January 14, 2022)

    • On January 12, 2022, ISIS operatives fired at an SDF commander and one of his escorts who were riding a motorcycle in the Kisra region, about 30 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. They were wounded (Telegram, January 12, 2022).
    • On January 14, 2022, ISIS operatives distributed leaflets among the residents of the eastern rural area of Deir ez-Zor, warning them not to collaborate with the SDF forces. The leaflet also warned the residents not to go out during the night in order to try and disrupt ISIS’s activity (Jisr, January 15, 2022).
    ISIS’s leaflet threatening the residents of the Deir ez-Zor eastern rural area (Jisr, January 15, 2022)


    ISIS’s leaflet threatening the residents of the Deir ez-Zor eastern rural area
    (Jisr, January 15, 2022)

    Al-Hasakah region
    • An Iraqi refugee, resident of Ramadi, was murdered. He worked in the Al-Hawl camp, where family members of ISIS operatives are held. The murder was apparently perpetrated by ISIS operatives who infiltrated the camp (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 17, 2022).
    • The SDF forces issued a press release, stating that the international community is ignoring ISIS’s smuggling and finance network operating in Ras al-Ayn, a region under Turkish control in the northern Al-Hasakah Province, on the Syria-Turkey border. According to the Kurdish forces, the network smuggles people into Turkey, using the funds to finance ISIS’s terrorist actions in Syria (SDF, January 15, 2022).
    Al-Raqqah region
    • On January 12, 2022, a truck convoy of Qaterji, a company providing oil to the Syrian regime, was targeted by gunfire east of Al-Raqqah. The driver of one of the trucks was wounded and the truck was put out of commission (Telegram, January 15, 2022).
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)


    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    Attacks by province[2]

    Kirkuk Province
    • On January 12, 2022, an Iraqi army post was targeted by gunfire near Daquq, in south Kirkuk. One soldier was killed and another was wounded (Telegram, January 11, 2022).
    Al-Anbar Province
    • On January 12, 2022, IEDs were activated against two Popular Mobilization vehicles near Akashat, in the western Al-Anbar Province. The passengers on board were killed and wounded (Telegram, January 11, 2022).
    Salah al-Din Province
    • On January 18, 2022, ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a joint force of the Iraqi police and the Popular Mobilization near Tarmiyah, about 30 km north of Baghdad. Two fighters were killed and ISIS operatives seized their weapons (Telegram, January 18, 2022).
    • ISIS operatives abducted and executed five fishermen west of Samarra (www.akhbaralaan.net, January 16, 2022).

    Counterterrorism measures

    Kirkuk Province
    • In the Rashad region, the Iraqi police located an ISIS hiding place containing several mortar shells (Al-Sumaria, January 16, 2022).
    An ISIS hiding place where the forces found several mortar shells (Al-Sumaria, January 16, 2022)


    An ISIS hiding place where the forces found several mortar shells (Al-Sumaria, January 16, 2022)

    Salah al-Din Province
    • The Iraqi army started an extensive operation to locate ISIS operatives in the Salah al-Din Province and to protect high-voltage power lines (Al-Sumaria, January 17, 2022).
    Al-Anbar Province
    • The Iraqi security forces detained 11 ISIS operatives in various regions in the Al-Anbar Province (Khaliyat al-I’lam al-Amni, January 16, 2022).
    Sinai Peninsula
    • North Sinai Governor Major-General Mohamed Abdel-Fadhil Shusha said that the residents of the villages south of Sheikh Zuweid had returned to their homes after the region had been mopped up from the presence of ISIS operatives by the Egyptian security forces (Al-Masry Al-Youm, January 15, 2022).
    The Sinai Tribal Union released photos documenting the mopping up activity


    The Sinai Tribal Union released photos documenting the mopping up activity

    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 6 and January 12, 2022, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 35 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa (compared to 30 attacks in the previous week). The largest number of attacks was carried out by ISIS’s Iraq and Central Africa provinces (9 each). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: West Africa (8); Syria (5); Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (3); East Asia (1). A total of 120 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 70 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Iraq Province (36). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Central Africa (34); West Africa (30); Khorasan (11); Syria (5); and East Asia (4) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022).
    The infographic summing up ISIS’s attacks (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)


    The infographic summing up ISIS’s attacks (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)

    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS activity in Central Africa and East Asia
    • ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly published an infographic containing data on its activity in the Central Africa and East Asia provinces between December 21, 2021, and January 10, 2022 (22 days). According to the data, during the period in question, operatives from the two provinces carried out 24 attacks, 21 in the Central Africa Province and three in the East Asia Province. They included 16 assault and shooting attacks, four ambushes, two IED attacks and one suicide bombing attack. A total of 71 people were killed or wounded in these attacks, as follows: 36 Congolese soldiers and Christian residents in the Congo, 16 Filipino soldiers and Christian residents in the Philippines, 15 Mozambican soldiers and Christian residents in Mozambique, and 4 members of the African Coalition, which supports the Congolese and Mozambican armies. As part of this activity, 115 residential buildings were set on fire and seven vehicles were put out of commission or destroyed (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022).
    Infographic on the activity of the provinces (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)


    Infographic on the activity of the provinces (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)

    ISIS activity in Africa[3]

    ISIS’s West Africa Province is recruiting and training its next generation
    • The media office of ISIS’s West Africa Province released a video entitled “Empowering the Generation.” The video documents adolescent boys being educated and trained as ISIS’s next generation at a training camp by the name of The Lion Cubs of the Caliphate. The video documents the trainees’ schedule, which includes studies in Arabic, Islam and ideological guidance, fitness training and military training, including guerrilla warfare and the use of firearms. At the end of the video, masked boys are documented executing Nigerian soldiers, including a combatant in the Special Forces. The trainees are also documented pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, January 18, 2022).
    Radical Islam indoctrination of trainees (Telegram, January 18, 2022)
    Radical Islam indoctrination of trainees (Telegram, January 18, 2022)


    Radical Islam indoctrination of trainees (Telegram, January 18, 2022)

    Military training (Telegram, January 18, 2022)
    Military training (Telegram, January 18, 2022)


    Military training (Telegram, January 18, 2022)

    Pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, January 18, 2022).
    Execution of a Nigerian Special Forces combatant.


    Right: Execution of a Nigerian Special Forces combatant. Left: Pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, January 18, 2022).

    Nigeria
    • On January 18, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base and position in Baga, in the northeast of the country. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On January 16, 2022, a Nigerian army checkpoint was targeted by gunfire near Banki, in the northeast of the country. The soldiers fled and ISIS operatives seized vehicles, a rifle and ammunition.
    • On January 15, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army foot patrol on the Mainok-Jakana highway in northeastern Nigeria. Several soldiers were killed or wounded.
    • On January 13, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in the town of Bama, about 70 km southeast of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. Eight soldiers were killed or wounded.
    • On January 12, 2022, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in Damboa, about 80 km southwest of Maiduguri. Definite hits were identified.
    • On January 12, 2022, the village of Moktum was attacked in Yobe State, in northeastern Nigeria. Two fighters of militias loyal to the Nigerian army were killed.
    • On January 12, 2022, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army patrol near a Nigerian army base in Malam Fatori, in the border region of northeastern Nigeria. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers were killed or wounded.
    Mozambique
    • On January 15, 2022, three Christian militia fighters were abducted in Nova Zambézia, in the Cabo Delgado Province, in northeastern Mozambique. All three were executed.
    • On January 14, 2022, the Christian village of Kitulia was attacked in the Cabo Delgado Province. The residents managed to flee, and ISIS operatives set fire to about 20 homes and then left. The day before, the Christian village of Sitati in the province had been attacked. The residents managed to flee. ISIS operatives set fire to about 60 homes and then left (Telegram, January 15, 2022).
    Libya
    • An IED was activated at the headquarters of General Haftar’s army in Umm al-Haraneb, south of Sabha, about 650 km south of Tripoli. According to ISIS, a Haftar’s army soldier was killed and two others were wounded (Telegram, January 18, 2022).

    Asia

    Afghanistan
    • This week, there was an increase in ISIS’s activity in Afghanistan against Taliban members and government agencies. Most of the attacks took the form of activating IEDs against vehicles. The following are the incidents according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility (Telegram).
    • On January 16, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. Five of the passengers on board were killed or wounded. Another IED was activated against Taliban operatives who arrived on the scene. At least eight more Taliban members were killed.
    • On January 15, 2022, a Taliban headquarters was targeted by gunfire in the Suki region of Kunar, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Several Taliban members were wounded and five vehicles were set on fire.
    • On January 14, 2022, an IED was activated against vehicles of the Taliban intelligence service in the Shaikal region of the Kunar Province. The vehicle was damaged.
    • On January 14, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in the Salim Karwan area of the Kabul Province. The passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    • On January 14, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. Six passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    • On January 11, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. The vehicle was damaged and those on board were killed or wounded.
    • On January 11, 2022, a Taliban member was shot dead in the Herat Province, in the west of the country, and his gun was seized.
    The battle for hearts and minds
    • This week’s lead main article in Al-Naba’ weekly is entitled “Those who Stand Firm in the Age of Inaction” [i.e., in the age of losing their way] and was devoted to encouraging ISIS operatives, raising their morale and motivating them to continue their activity. The article stresses that the victory of Islam will be achieved through those who adhere to Islam, and those who are willing to suffer and stand the test of faith. This is in contrast to those who are led by their passions and desires. The author includes quotations from the Quran and Islamic tradition in order to support his statements (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022).
     (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)


    (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)

    Another infographic from Al-Naba’ weekly on the importance of propaganda
    • This week’s issue also includes an infographic on the importance of propaganda activity, with the intention of encouraging ISIS’s operatives and supporters to increase their propaganda efforts and to join jihad. The infographic states that the responsibility imposed on ISIS’s propaganda personnel is tremendous and that they must devote maximum time and energy to it. The infographic also states that the propaganda personnel should know that their propaganda work is related to the “mother of the commandments” in the current era, which is jihad. ISIS’s propaganda personnel must be very professional in their mission, they must know how to reach the hearts of Muslims and inspire them to carry out jihad, they must possess in-depth knowledge of Quranic quotations and Islamic tradition related to jihad and their use for propaganda purposes (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022).
    The infographic encouraging ISIS's operatives and supporters to intensify the call for jihad (Al-


    The infographic encouraging ISIS’s operatives and supporters to intensify the call for jihad (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, January 13, 2022)Full document in PDF format

    [1] Sources affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been demanding her release since she was apprehended in 2008. In 2014, ISIS even offered to release James Foley in exchange for her release. Foley was an American journalist who was subsequently executed by ISIS. ↑
    [2] Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [3] 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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