Spotlight on Global Jihad
The scene of the attack in the city of Tartus, (Right: ARA News, September 5, 2016. Left: SANA, September 5, 2016)
The scene of the attack in the city of Homs (Right: SANA, September 5, 2016. Left: all4syria.info, September 5, 2016)
The scene of the attack in the town of Al-Saboura, west of Damascus (all4syria.info, September 5, 2016)
Right: The scene of the attack in the city of Al-Hasakah (Right: all4syria.info, September 5, 2016. Left: ARA News, September 5, 2016)
The scene of the attack in the city of Qamishli (SMART Syrian News Agency, September 5, 2016)
Fighters of the Free Syrian Army’s Sultan Murad Division advancing in the rural area southwest of Jarabulus (YouTube, September 4, 2016)
Abu al-Layth al-Darawi, the speaker in the video (Haqq, September 4, 2016)
Right: Artillery used by the Khalid bin al-Walid Army. Left: Tank bearing an ISIS flag (Haqq, September 4, 2016)
Thief’s hand being cut off in public.
Iraqi soldiers retreating under fire from the Iraqi Army camp northwest of Rutba.
The scene of the attack in central Baghdad (Al-Sumaria, September 5, 2016)
ISIS’s announcement that the perpetrator of the attack against the police in Copenhagen was an ISIS operative (Aamaq, September 2, 2016).
Mesa Hodzic, the ISIS operative who carried out the shooting attack against the police in Copenhagen (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, September 2, 2016)
Abu Issa al-Almani: “The purpose of jihad is to expand the rule of Allah, may He be exalted, on earth […] It is the obligation of every Muslim” (Haqq, September 3, 2016)
Main events of the week
The US-led campaign against ISIS
- nDuring the week, the US-led coalition continued its airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, the airstrikes were concentrated in the areas of Manbij, Al-Raqqah, Deir al-Zor, and Abu Kamal. In Iraq, the airstrikes were concentrated in the areas of Ramadi, Hit, Haditha, Tal Afar, and Mosul (US Department of Defense website).
Main developments in Syria
ISIS terrorist attacks and guerilla warfare in a number of Syrian cities
- Following is initial information about the attacks:
- A double suicide bombing attack was carried out near a Syrian Army checkpoint, under a bridge at the southern entrance to the city of Tartus. A car bomb driven by a suicide bomber exploded near a checkpoint. Another car bomb with two suicide bombers arrived later and exploded among the security forces called to the site (Haqq, September 5, 2016). Nearly 50 people were killed in the attack.
- Car bomb attack at the entrance to the Al-Zahra neighborhood in Homs. Four members of the Syrian security forces were killed.
- Attackin the town of Al-Saboura, west of Damascus.A suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive belt near the checkpoint of the Syrian security forces.
- Motorcycle bomb explosion at a checkpoint in a square in central Al-Hasakah.According to ISIS’s claim of responsibility, a suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive belt at a checkpoint of the Kurdish internal security apparatus. Five people were killed, three of them members of the Kurdish internal security apparatus.
- Detonation of an IED on Al-Corniche Street (the promenade) in the city of Qamishli. The IED was detonated against a vehicle of the Kurdish internal security apparatus. There were no casualties.
The cleansing of a strip along the Syrian border by the Turkish Army and rebel organizations has ended
- Cleansing the strip along the Turkish border was carried out by Turkish Army forces and rebel organizations, mainly the Free Syrian Army. These forces advanced westward from Jarabulus and eastward from the cities of A’zaz and Al-Ra’i. They met with no significant resistance from ISIS operatives and quickly took control of the rural area along the border. In addition, a Turkish armored force from the Elbeyli District infiltrated the town of Çobanbey, east of A’zaz. On September 4, 2016, the Turkish Army announced that it had completed the cleansing of the area between Jarabulus and A’zaz from the presence of ISIS operatives.
- According to Arab and Turkish media reports,the third stage of Operation Euphrates Shield began on September 5, 2016. In this stage, the Turkish Army and rebel organizations intend to expand their area of control southward to the city of Al-Bab (ISIS’s last significant stronghold west of the Euphrates River) and the city of Manbij (which is controlled by the predominantly Kurdish SDF).
The Aleppo campaign
- On September 4, 2016, the Syrian regime announced that the Syrian Army and the forces that support it had taken over the compound of military colleges in southwestern Aleppo from Jaysh al-Fateh (the umbrella framework of the rebel organizations, including the Fateh al-Sham Front). Previously, the Syrian Army had taken control of areas dominating the college compound (SANA, September 4, 2016). In recent weeks, there have been fierce battles between the Syrian Army and the rebel organizations, in the military college compound and in the Al-Ramousah neighborhood in southern Aleppo.
- Following the takeover of the college compound, the Syrian Army severed the logistics corridor that the rebels had managed to create, and resumed the siege on the city of Aleppo. Jaysh al-Fateh, on its part, confirmed on September 4, 2016, that the Syrian Army had taken over the military college compound, blaming some of the factions that had abandoned Jaysh al-Fateh and fled from the area (Twitter account affiliated with Jaysh al-Fateh; Hossein Mortada’s Twitter account, September 4, 2016).
Southern Syria and the Syrian Golan Heights
The ISIS-affiliated Khalid bin al-Walid Army
- The Khalid bin al-Walid Army is a recently established military framework comprising three ISIS-affiliated organizations.This framework operates in the Yarmouk basin, in the Syria-Jordan-Israel tri-border area. Following are a few details about this framework, taken from a video released by the Khalid bin al-Walid Army (September 3, 2016) and from other ISIS publications:
- The Khalid bin al-Walid Army includes three organizations that merged into it: the Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, the Islamic Muthanna Movement, and Jama’at Al-Mujahedin. The Khalid bin al-Walid Army now controls several towns northwest of Daraa: Al-Shajara, Jamla, and Nafaa. This force also controls villages located in the Yarmouk basin (Haqq, September 4, 2016).
- The speaker in the video, codenamed Abu al-Layth al-Darawi, glorifies theAl-Yarmouk Battle that took place in this area on August 20, 636 AD, between the Muslim forces and the Byzantine Empire. The commander of the Muslim forces was Khalid bin al-Walid. The Muslim forces won the battle. It was the first victory in a battle outside the Arabian Peninsula and was followed by a series of victories that led to the spread of Islam in the countries of Al-Sham (Greater Syria). The speaker notes that “today the descendants of the victors are carrying out a second Al-Yarmouk campaign.” He addresses the local Muslim population, noting that “the Khaled bin al-Walid Army was established in order to carry out jihad for the sake of Allah and to implement Sharia […]” (yadi.sk file-sharing website, September 3, 2016).
- The video shows various weapons of the Khalid bin al-Walid Army, including tanks, mortars and machine guns. It is evident from the video that the Khalid bin al-Walid Army maintains civil-governmental activity in the area under its control, including a morality police force (hisba) that operates in the open markets, the implementation of a strict form of Sharia law (the video includes documentation of a thief’s hand being cut off in public), and public Islamic propaganda activity (da’wah).
Main developments in Iraq
ISIS network in Baghdad
- According to an August 31, 2016, report by the Iraqi Criminal Court, which deals with issues of terrorism, ISIS has reorganized its forces around Baghdad and is housing its operatives in apartments that it rents and on farms in the populated areas surrounding Baghdad. It trains its operatives in these places, sends them to carry out operational activity, and receives them on their return (Al-Sumaria, August 31, 2016).
- On September 4, 2016, the Al-Anbar Province police announced that an attempted attack by ISIS on the city of Rutba, near the Iraq-Syria-Jordan tri-border area, had been foiled. A number of ISIS operatives were killed in the attack. According to a report from the day before (September 3, 2016), ISIS had used IEDs to blow up a drinking water facility used by the residents of the city (Al-Sumaria, September 4, 2016). On September 4, 2016, ISIS released photos taken during the takeover of an Iraqi Army camp northwest of Rutba by its operatives (Haqq, September 4, 2016).
Additional ISIS attacks
- Following are reports of additional ISIS attacks throughout Iraq against the Iraqi Army, the Shiite militias that support it, and population groups that ISIS perceives as infidels:
- On September 5, 2016, a car bomb exploded in the Karrada neighborhood in central Baghdad. At least ten people were killed. The attack was carried out among a crowd of Shiites near the hospital in the neighborhood. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On September 3, 2016, a suicide bombing attack was carried out with an explosive belt and car bomb, in a village located about 70 km southeast of Kirkuk. Dozens of people were killed, some of them Shiites and some members of the Kaka’i religious minority, perceived by ISIS as infidels.
- On September 2, 2016, ISIS reported that it had attacked a Shiite militia camp some 70 km northeast of Samarra. According to the report, more than 50 Shiite militiamen were killed (Haqq, September 2, 2016).
- On August 31, 2016, ISIS reported that its operatives had attacked Iraqi Army camps between Baiji and Haditha with mortar bombs (Haqq, August 31, 2016).
- On August 31, 2016, ISIS reported that its operatives had fired mortar bombs at Iraqi Army camps in the area of Al-Zarka, south of Kirkuk (Haqq, August 31, 2016).
The global jihad in other countries
The campaign for the liberation of the city of Sirte
- After several days of respite, the battles resumed on September 3, 2016. The attacking forces announced that they had taken over the branches of the Libyan central bank and Al-Wahda Bank, the ancient mosque, the Al-Quds Mosque and a city hotel, in and adjacent to Neighborhood No. 1. According to senior Libyan officials, ISIS operatives are now concentrated in the buildings in the Marine Neighborhood, located between Neighborhood No. 3 and the beach. According to an estimate by the attacking forces’ intelligence, around 100 ISIS operatives remain in these neighborhoods.
- On September 4, 2016, ISIS’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for activating an IED against a Yemeni Army checkpoint in Aden (Haqq, September 4, 2016). In recent months Aden, the main city of the Yemeni government, has become a target of choice for terrorist attacks by ISIS.
- On September 3, 2016, an IED exploded in the city of Davao, in the Philippines. The explosion killed 14 people and wounded dozens. The explosion occurred near the Marco Polo Hotel, where the President of the Philippines often visits. The President was not wounded. The authorities blame the Abu Sayyaf organization, ISIS’s branch in the Philippines (Al-Jazeera, September 3, 2016; France 24, September 3, 2016). According to Philippine sources, Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the attack (Sky News in Arabic, September 3, 2016).
- On August 31, 2016, two policemen and a civilian were shot in Copenhagen’s Christiania quarter. One policeman was seriously wounded after being shot in the head. A policeman and a civilian who is not a resident of Denmark were shot in the legs. A man suspected of being the shooter was caught by the police on the morning of September 1, 2016, after a shootout (Copenhagen Post, September 1, 2016). According to the report, the terrorist who carried out the shooting, Mesa Hodzic, 25, died of his wounds (Copenhagen Post, September 2, 2016).
- According to British media reports, Mesa Hodzic was born in Bosnia and moved to Denmark at the age of four. Danish police said that he apparently had ties with an Islamist militant group and that he was an ISIS sympathizer (The Independent, September 2, 2016). On September 2, 2016, ISIS announced that the perpetrator of the attack against the police in Copenhagen was “a soldier of the Islamic State” (Aamaq, September 2, 2016). The wording of the announcement is the same as previous announcements issued by ISIS after ISIS-inspired attacks carried out by its supporters in various countries.
The battle for hearts and minds
German-born ISIS operative calls on Muslims in the West to carry out attacks
- On September 3, 2016, ISIS distributed a video in Iraq featuring a young German named Christian from the city of Dortmund. The young man, codenamed Abu Issa al-Almani (i.e., the German), says that he is a Christian who converted to Islam and immigrated to the Islamic State as part of “his search for the truth” after undergoing surgery. He is later shown attending the public amputation of the hand of a man accused of theft and is also shown whipping another person, whose face is blurred.
- In the video, Abu Issa al-Almani calls on Muslims to immigrate to the Islamic State, to live there and protect it. He also calls on Muslims in the West to take action in their home countries against all those who fought against the Caliphate State and to sacrifice their lives for its survival. He adds: “Your brothers in Germany, France, Brussels and Orlando have proved their faith in their master [i.e., Allah] by their actions. They were the first, follow their path and help your religion” (Haqq, September 3, 2016).
 The Kaka’is are a religious minority living in northern Iraq and in the Kurdish region of Iran. Ethnically they consider themselves Kurds. They speak the Kurdish language. Their religion is inspired by Zoroastrianism, which spread in Iran before the Islamic conquests. There are no reliable estimates with regard to their number, but according to some estimates, they number between 500,000 and one million people (Al-Monitor, February 10, 2016; ARA News, September 4, 2016).