The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's Spotlight on Global Jihad (December 2-8, 2021)

    Main events of the past week
    • This week there was an increase in the volume of ISIS’s activity around the world. ISIS carried out noteworthy attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Sinai Peninsula and Nigeria.
    • Afghanistan: ISIS continued its attacks, mainly against the Taliban forces.
    • Syria: ISIS carried out noteworthy attacks in the desert region against militias and forces supporting the Syrian army. The forces suffered heavy losses in a series of attacks against them in the desert region of Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra.
    • Iraq: ISIS concentrated on attacks against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. A noteworthy attack was the takeover of a village in northern Iraq by ISIS operatives. Iraqi army special unit and a Peshmerga force regained control of the village the next day. There was another incident in a village located southwest of Erbil, in which ISIS operatives attacked two Peshmerga positions. A total of 13 fighters were killed in these incidents, including two officers.
    • The Sinai Peninsula: ISIS operatives carried out a number of attacks against the Egyptian army and the forces supporting it. At the same time, the Egyptian army and the tribal forces supporting it reported that they had thwarted several attacks, including a suicide bombing attack.
    • Africa: This week, ISIS carried out noteworthy attacks in Nigeria, mainly against the army and the forces supporting it, and in Mozambique, where ISIS has recently resumed its activity. After a long time, Cameroon is once again being targeted by ISIS. ISIS operatives attacked a Cameroonian army camp in the north of the country. At least 10 soldiers were killed in the attack.
    • The battle for hearts and minds: The lead article in Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to ISIS’s interpretation of the recent events in Sudan. According to the author, after a long period of rule by tyrants who did not implement Islamic law (Sharia), the newly established government in Sudan, comprising military personnel and reformers, has not implemented it either. It has even come out against it, separating religious affairs from the state. The author further notes that the Jews and Christians are heavy-handedly interfering in the country’s domestic affairs and that the only solution for the Sudanese is to follow the path of Allah and take the path of jihad against the tyrants and those loyal to them.
    Afghanistan
    • This week, ISIS continued its activity in Afghanistan, mainly against the Taliban. The following are the main incidents (mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility on Telegram):
    • On December 6, 2021, a Taliban member was killed and his weapon was seized in Talaqan, in the Takhar Province, in northeastern Afghanistan.
    • On December 6, 2021, two Taliban vehicles were targeted by gunfire in the Manogi region of the Kunar Province. One Taliban member was killed and three others were wounded.
    • On December 5, 2021, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. Seven Taliban members were killed or wounded. The vehicle was put out of commission.
    • On December 5, 2021, a Taliban vehicle was targeted by gunfire in Jalalabad. Both of those on board were killed.
    • On December 4, 2021,an IED was activated against a Taliban patrol in Kabul. One vehicle was hit and the passengers were killed or wounded.
    • On December 2, 2021, an IED was activated against a Taliban vehicle in Kabul. The passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    The Syrian arena
    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)


    Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

    The Idlib region
    • Exchanges of artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and the rebel forces in the rebel enclave in Idlib (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 1-5, 2021). US aircraft carried out an airstrike in the area, killing Musab Kinan, a senior operative in the Hurras al-Din organization, the Al-Qaeda wing in Idlib (Fox News, December 5, 2021; The Pentagon, December 6, 2021).
    The desert region (Al-Badia)[1]
    • This week, ISIS operatives carried out several attacks against militias supporting the Syrian army. The Russian Air Force carried out over 20 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the area (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 6, 2021). Following are the details:
    • On November 29-30, 2021, ISIS operatives fired rockets and mortar shells at a base of the Fatemiyoun Brigade (a pro-Iranian Shiite militia whose fighters are Afghan mercenaries) near Palmyra. Two fighters were killed and eight were wounded (www.palmyra-monitor.net, December 1, 2021).
    • On December 3-4, 2021, two fighters of Al-Nujaba (a pro-Iranian Shiite militia of Iraqi mercenaries) were killed in an ambush by ISIS operatives on the Palmyra-Deir ez-Zor highway (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 4, 2021). Three other militia members were killed in other attacks carried out by ISIS in the Deir ez-Zor desert region (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 4, 2021).
    • On December 4, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked positions of the National Defense Forces in the southern Deir ez-Zor Province (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 4, 2021). There were no reports about the number of casualties. Two days before, two members of the National Defense Forces were killed in an ISIS attack against positions in west Deir ez-Zor (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 2, 2021).
    • On December 2, 2021, an IED was activated (apparently by ISIS) against a bus carrying workers of the Al-Kharatah oil field, in the southwestern part of the Deir ez-Zor Province. The IED exploded about 20 km from the oil field, killing 10 workers (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 2, 2021).
    The Deir ez-Zor region
    • ISIS operatives on motorcycles broke into a building of the People’s Council and the Women’s Council about 15 km north of Al-Mayadeen, in the SDF control area. They took over the building and threatened the workers, warning them not to return to work (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 6, 2021).
    The Al-Hasakah region
    • Two American trucks went up in flames after an IED exploded nearby, in the Al-Hasakah region, in northeastern Syria. No casualties were reported (SANA, December 1, 2021).
    Southern Syria
    • On December 4, 2021, a former operative of the ISIS-affiliated Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, who expressed loyalty to the Syrian regime, was shot to death by persons unknown in Daraa (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, December 4, 2021). It can be estimated that the attackers were ISIS operatives, although there was no official claim of responsibility by ISIS.
    The Iraqi arena
    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)


    Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

    • As part of the process of pulling out US troops from Iraq, US Army CENTCOM reported that a Colonel-level logistics headquarters had moved from Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq to the US Army base in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The new headquarters will reportedly continue to support the Iraqi security services and provide logistics support to missions of the Global Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as NATO missions in Iraq. It was further stated that the US intends to keep forces in Iraq to focus on consulting and assistance to the Iraqi security apparatus in the campaign against ISIS. The US will deploy a regular force in the Al-Asad Air Base to take part in local operations and provide life support functions to all forces on base (CENTCOM website, November 30, 2021).
    UN investigation: ISIS committed war crimes
    • Christian Ritscher, the special adviser and head of the United Nations investigative team to promote accountability of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq, stated before the UN Security Council that ISIS had committed crimes against humanity and war crimes at Badush Central Prison in Mosul, where over a thousand prisoners, most of them Shiites, had been executed in June 2014, when ISIS took over the region. The assertion is based on evidence collected from mass graves of execution victims and survivors. Furthermore, according to Ritscher, based on the analysis of digital evidence, certificates, forensic research and ISIS documents, several ISIS operatives who were responsible for the crimes have been located (Al-Jazeera, December 3, 2021).

    Attacks by province[2]

    Diyala Province
    • On December 5, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in Shikha, about 40 km northeast of Baqubah. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
    • On December 4, 2021, an Iraqi army post was targeted by gunfire in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah. One soldier was wounded.
    Kirkuk Province
    • On December 4-6, 2021, ISIS attacked the village of Lahiban, about 40 km northwest of Kirkuk. Despite resistance by local residents, ISIS operatives managed to take over the village. The next day, fighters of an Iraqi army special unit and a Peshmerga force succeeded in regaining control of the village. Five ISIS operatives were killed by the force that took over the village (Sky News, December 6, 2021).
    • On December 5, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police vehicle in the Riyadh region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk. The passengers were wounded. Several days earlier, an IED was activated in the same area against an Iraqi police truck. It was put out of commission.
    • On December 5, 2021, a Peshmerga post was attacked in the Atoun al-Kabri region, in the northern Kirkuk Province. An officer and three fighters were killed. Another fighter was wounded.
    Al-Anbar Province
    • On December 3, 2021, an Iraqi army post was targeted by gunfire on the Kabisa-Hit highway. Two soldiers were killed.
    Salah al-Din Province
    • A joint patrol of the Iraqi army and militia fighters was targeted by gunfire during an operation in the Hamrin Mountains, about 50 km north of Tikrit. Several fighters were wounded in the exchange of fire. A motorcycle was destroyed (Telegram, December 7, 2021).
    Erbil Province

    On December 2, 2021, two Peshmerga posts were targeted by gunfire in Khadr Jijah, in the Dibka region, about 60 km southwest of Erbil. Six Peshmerga fighters were killed and five were wounded. Retreating ISIS operatives were attacked by Peshmerga fighters. Seven other Peshmerga fighters were killed in the exchange of fire, including a major and a captain. ISIS set fire to a Peshmerga vehicle and seized weapons and ammunition (Telegram, December 3, 2021).

    weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS’s operatives (Telegram, December 3, 2021)
    ISIS attack against the Peshmerga fighters.


    Right: ISIS attack against the Peshmerga fighters. Left: weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS’s operatives (Telegram, December 3, 2021)

    Sinai Peninsula
    • Recently, ISIS’s Sinai Province has published only few claims of responsibility for attacks that it has carried out, in contrast to the past, when such statements had been issued on ISIS’s media and online sites on an ongoing basis. Between October and December 2021, ISIS issued only three claims of responsibility. However, statements by the Sinai Tribal Union on thwarting attacks indicate that in spite of the activity of the Egyptian security forces and elements supporting them, ISIS is still present in the Sinai Peninsula and capable of carrying out attacks. Furthermore, most of ISIS’s recent attacks have taken place in the central Sinai Peninsula rather than in the areas of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, where they had usually taken place in the past (Mada Misr, December 5, 2021).
    ISIS’s attacks
    • On December 7, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked a force supporting the Egyptian army in Sinai. One fighter was killed (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, December 7, 2021).
    • On December 4, 2021, ISIS operatives activated an IED against an Egyptian army force in Maliz, in the central Sinai Peninsula. Five soldiers were killed or wounded (World News 2021 Twitter account, December 4, 2021).
    • On December 3, 2021, several fighters of the Sinai Tribal Union were killed and wounded during an exchange of fire with ISIS operatives in the central Sinai Peninsula (World News 2021 Twitter account, December 3, 2021).
    • On December 2, 2021, Saad Mohammad Saad, a Sinai tribe engineer who had been employed on an Egyptian army project, was shot dead by an operative of ISIS’s Sinai Province (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, December 3, 2021). On the same day, an IED was activated against an Egyptian army vehicle on the Dabaa road connecting North Sinai with the central Sinai Peninsula. The vehicle was put out of commission and the passengers on board were killed or wounded (Telegram, December 6, 2021).
    Counterterrorism measures
    • This week, tribal forces in Sinai, operating in collaboration with the Egyptian army, carried out several counterterrorism activities against ISIS. It should be noted that the Egyptian forces have not released any statements on these activities. Following are the details:
    • On December 4, 2021, several ISIS operatives were detained south of Sheikh Zuweid (Sinai News Now Facebook page, December 4, 2021).
    • On December 3, 2021, the Sinai Tribal Union announced the killing of two ISIS operatives who hid in the Al-Fitat region, near Sheikh Zuweid. According to the statement, by killing the operatives, the Tribal Union managed to thwart a suicide bombing attack that the two had attempted to carry out against roadblocks of the Egyptian army and police forces in Sheikh Zuweid. The two operatives were reportedly wearing explosive belts and intended to blow themselves up at the roadblocks (Sinai Tribal Union Twitter account, December 4, 2021).
    • On December 1, 2021, the Sinai Tribal Union announced that its forces had killed two armed operatives of ISIS’s Sinai Province. The two were engaged in planting dozens of IEDs along roads used by the tribal fighters and the Egyptian army. The two operatives were killed attempting to transfer explosives in the Manjam region in central Sinai. The Tribal Union fighters found weapons, equipment and wireless communication devices in their possession (Sinai Tribal Union Twitter account, November 30, 2021).
    • On November 30, 2021, the Sinai Tribal Union announced that, under orders from the Egyptian army, its forces had set up an ambush and detained two senior ISIS operatives in central Sinai (the specific location was not mentioned). The equipment in their possession was seized.
    ISIS operative from the Gaza Strip killed
    • Local sources in Gaza reported that Mahmoud Akram al-Laham, codenamed Abu Duaa, a senior operative in ISIS’s Sinai Province, former resident of Khan Yunis, was killed in an exchange of fire with the Egyptian army in Sinai (www.sadanews.ps, December 6, 2021). No additional details have been disclosed.
    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 November 25 and December 1, 2021, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 35 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 30 in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out in Iraq (12). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (7); West Africa (7); Central Africa (4); Syria (2); East Asia (1); India (1); and Somalia (1). A total of 65 people were killed and wounded in the attacks, compared to 78 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in Khorasan (24). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Iraq (20); West Africa (12); Central Africa (5); Syria (2); India (1); and Somalia (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021).
    The infographic summing up ISIS’s attacks (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)


    The infographic summing up ISIS’s attacks
    (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)

    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
    Summary of targeted killings carried out by ISIS around the world
    • ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly published an infographic summing up the targeted killings carried out by ISIS around the world over the past four months (August 9, 2021 – December 3, 2021). According to the infographic, during this period ISIS carried out 74 targeted killings, as follows: 32 with machine guns, 26 with handguns, 9 abductions and executions and 9 break-ins to the victims’ residence or workplace. The highest number of targeted killings was in the Khorasan Province, where 40 were carried out. The remaining targeted killings were carried out in Syria (16), Central Africa (6), Iraq (5), Somalia (4), India (2) and Pakistan (1). A total of 99 people were killed in these incidents, including eight officers and commanders. The dead included 32 Taliban members and former government officials in Afghanistan, 18 soldiers and Christian residents in Mozambique, 17 Kurdish SDF fighters in Syria, 8 fighters of the security forces and militias supporting the Iraqi government, 7 Pakistani policemen, 5 Somali policemen, 3 Hindus and Sikhs in India, and a Syrian soldier (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021).
    The infographic as it appeared in Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)


    The infographic as it appeared in Al-Naba’ weekly
    (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)

    Money laundering in the West Africa Province
    • According to a report published by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against) Money Laundering in West Africa, ISIS’s West Africa Province is laundering terrorist money through Nigeria’s financial system. According to the report, the province has used the system to transfer about $36 million per year. The money was obtained from trade and tax collection from the local population in the Lake Chad region. The authors of the report stress that Nigeria does not have an orderly policy on the expropriation of assets used for money laundering and terrorist financing and does not comply with international standards on this issue (www.punchng.com, December 5, 2021).

    ISIS attacks in Africa[3]

    Nigeria
    • On December 6, 2021, IEDs were activated against a Nigerian army tank and bulldozer in Malam Fatori, in the Nigeria-Niger border area in northeastern Nigeria. The tank and bulldozer were put out of commission.
    • On December 6, 2021, forces of militias loyal to the Nigerian army were targeted by gunfire in Mainok, west of the Nigeria-Cameroon border. Two militia fighters were killed.
    • On December 5, 2021, a Nigerian army patrol was targeted by gunfire in Malam Fatori. Several soldiers were wounded. At the same time, ISIS operatives fired mortar shells at a Nigerian army base in Malam Fatori. Definite hits were identified.
    • On December 4, 2021, rockets were launched at the Midogori military airfield, in northeastern Nigeria. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On December 3, 2021, mortar shells were fired at a Nigerian army base in Malam Fatori. According to ISIS, definite hits were identified.
    • On December 1, 2021, a police officer and four local Christian residents were abducted at a roadblock set up on the Damboa-Chibok highway, about 90 km southwest of Maiduguri. The operatives seized the officer’s car and two trucks.
    • On November 30, 2021, a Nigerian army base and a Nigerian Police headquarters were attacked in Buniadi, about 45 km southeast of Damaturu, in northeastern Nigeria. Several policemen and soldiers were killed or wounded in the exchange of fire. ISIS operatives set fire to the police headquarters and three vehicles, and seized weapons and ammunition.
    • On November 29, 2021, a base of the Nigerian Special Forces was attacked in Gajiram, about 120 km southeast of the Nigeria-Chad-Cameroon tri-border area. At least two soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the exchange of fire.

    The Democratic Republic of the Congo

    • On December 5, 2021, a Congolese army officer and soldier on a motorcycle were ambushed and targeted by gunfire on the road between Beni and Ituri, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. The officer was killed and the soldier was wounded.
    ISIS operatives near the motorcycle that was hit (Telegram, December 5, 2021)


    ISIS operatives near the motorcycle that was hit (Telegram, December 5, 2021)

    • On December 1, 2021, a Congolese army post was attacked in Kissanga, about 30 km south of Beni, west of the Congo-Uganda border. One soldier was killed. ISIS operatives seized weapons and ammunition.
    Cameroon
    • On November 30, 2021, a Cameroonian army camp was attacked in Umbashi, in the Maroa region in the north of the country. At least 10 soldiers were killed in the exchange of fire. ISIS operatives set fire to the camp.
    Mali
    • Armed men fired at a bus in the Bandiagara region of central Mali, not far from the Mali-Burkina Faso border. At least 30 people were killed. The identity of the armed men is unknown, but it is known that extensive activity is conducted in the region by elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Reuters, December 3, 2021).
    Mozambique
    • On December 3, 2021, a Mozambican army force was attacked in the Macomia region, in the northeast of the country. One soldier was killed in the exchange of fire. The homes of several Christian residents were set on fire. The day before, a Mozambican army patrol was targeted by gunfire there, and one soldier was killed.
    • On December 2, 2021, A Mozambican army foot patrol was targeted by gunfire in the Macomia region. According to reports, the soldiers fled the scene after the exchange of fire.
    ISIS training in Mozambique
    • Terrorism researcher Jasmine Opperman noted that ISIS’s global expansion into northern Mozambique includes training for a terror offensive involving suicide bomb tactics among a new generation of recruits. The training is administered by foreign fighters. The tactics listed by the researcher also include suicide missions. The researcher expresses concern over the spread of ISIS in northern Mozambique and adds that ISIS controls terrorism in the region and is indoctrinating the population and radicalizing them (www.thenationalnews.com, November 30, 2021).

    Asia

    India
    • On December 1, 2021, ISIS operatives fired at point-blank range at an Indian policeman in Srinagar, Kashmir. He was wounded (Telegram, December 1, 2021).
    The battle for hearts and minds
    • This week’s lead article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to ISIS’s interpretation of the events in Sudan in the past few weeks. The article, entitled “The Struggle of the Tyrants in Sudan,” criticizes the tyrannical rulers in Sudan who do not apply Islamic law (Sharia), causing political instability and corruption. The previous ruler, Hassan al-Bashir, who associated himself with Hassan al-Torabi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and spoke about the implementation of Sharia, did not implement it in practice. The government established after Al-Bashir’s administration, a government comprising military personnel and reformers, also failed to implement Sharia and even came out against it, when it separated religious affairs from the state, “in order to please the Jews and the Christians.”
    • Moreover, that government even “unashamedly recognized the small state of the Jews.” That government was ultimately unstable, and Sudan found itself in a domestic crisis and riots. The Jews and Christians heavy-handedly interfered in the country’s domestic affairs, as part of the “Jewish-Crusader war against Islam and their desire to take advantage of the Muslims’ resources for their own needs.” According to the author, the only solution for the Sudanese is to follow the path of Allah and take the path of jihad against the tyrants and those loyal to them (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021).
    The article about the struggle of the tyrants in Sudan (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)
    The article about the struggle of the tyrants in Sudan‌‌(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 2, 2021)

    Footnotes

    [1] According to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
    [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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