Spotlight on Global Jihad (April 30 – May 5, 2021)

The Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization forces on the operation to locate ISIS operatives (Al-Sumaria, May 2, 2021)

The Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization forces on the operation to locate ISIS operatives (Al-Sumaria, May 2, 2021)

ISIS operatives commandeering a Nigerian army armored vehicle (Telegram, May 4, 2021).

ISIS operatives commandeering a Nigerian army armored vehicle (Telegram, May 4, 2021).

The attack on Kanamma.

The attack on Kanamma.

The barracks being set on fire.

The barracks being set on fire.

A communication pole being set on fire (Telegram, May 4, 2021).

A communication pole being set on fire (Telegram, May 4, 2021).

Main events of the past week
  • The third week of Ramadan was marked by a further increase in the number of ISIS attacks, mainly in Iraq and Africa.
  • Syria: In the Daraa region, the terrorist attacks against the Syrian army continued this week. In the Idlib region, artillery exchanges continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it and the rebel forces. Russian fighter jets attacked targets of the rebel forces in the southern part of the enclave. In the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region, ISIS continued its terrorist activity against the Kurdish SDF forces. In the Aleppo region, an IED was activated against a Syrian army vehicle near Tal al-Daman, south of Aleppo. The vehicle was destroyed and two soldiers on board were killed.
  • Iraq: This week as well, there has been an increase in ISIS’s terrorist activity. This week, noteworthy attacks were carried out in the Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The main incident was a complex attack in the Al-Abaiji region, about 30 km north of Baghdad, which included launching a rocket at an Iraqi army camp, activating IEDs and firing at forces of the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization when they arrived at the scene to provide assistance. Nine soldiers were killed in the attack, including two commanders and an intelligence officer, and seven were wounded. Iraqi security forces continued their counterterrorism activity against ISIS in the various provinces.
  • Sinai: After a period of relative calm, ISIS operatives attacked local residents in the village of Al-Amal, south of Al-Arish, on suspicion of collaborating with the Egyptian army. Three members of their families were killed.
  • Africa: ISIS-affiliated elements continue their terrorist activity, mainly against military targets. This week, most of the attacks in Africa were carried out in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two attacks were carried out in Burkina Faso by armed groups. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but local security officials estimated that the perpetrators were members of a group affiliated with ISIS.
The Syrian arena
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

The Idlib region

  • During the week, exchanges of artillery fire continued almost daily between the Syrian army the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. Russian fighter jets supporting the Syrian army attacked rebel targets in the southern part of the rebel enclave (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 29, 2021).
The Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region
  • ISIS continued its attacks against the Kurdish SDF forces operating in the area. The following are details about some of the attacks according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
    • On April 30, 2021, a rocket was fired at the SDF headquarters in Diban, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. An IED was activated against a force arriving on the scene to provide assistance. No casualties were reported but the site sustained damage.
    • On April 29, 2021, an SDF roadblock in Jazrat Albu Hamid, on the western outskirts of Deir ez-Zor, was targeted by gunfire. One SDF fighter was killed and three others were wounded.
    • On April 28, 2021, a motorcycle bomb was activated against an SDF vehicle in Al-Sour, about 50 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. Two SDF fighters were killed and several others were wounded.
The Al-Hasakah region
  • On May 1, 2021, an SDF intelligence operative riding a motorcycle was targeted by gunfire north of Al-Hasakah and was killed.
  • On April 28, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle south of Al-Hasakah. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was put out of commission.
Aleppo
  • On April 28, 2021, an IED was activated against a Syrian army vehicle near Tal al-Daman, south of Aleppo. Two soldiers were killed. The vehicle was destroyed.
Southern Syria
  • This week as well, ISIS claimed responsibility for attacks carried out against the Syrian army, mainly shooting attacks in the Daraa region. The following are the incidents:
    • On May 4, 2021, two Syrian soldiers were targeted by gunfire in the town of Umm Walad, east of Daraa.
    • On May 2, 2021, a Syrian army officer was targeted by gunfire east of Daraa.
    • On April 29, 2021, two Syrian soldiers were targeted by gunfire in central Nawa, west of Daraa. They were both killed.
    • On April 28, 2021, a vehicle of the Syrian Military Security Apparatus was targeted by gunfire in central Da’el, north of Daraa. Two Apparatus operatives were killed and the vehicle was put out of commission.
The Iraqi arena
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
  • This week as well, there has been an increase in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS in the various provinces in Iraq. Noteworthy were the Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. This week, there was a combined attack in the Al-Abaiji region, about 30 km north of Baghdad, which included firing a rocket at an Iraqi army camp, activating IEDs and firing at an Iraqi army and Popular Mobilization force arriving on the scene. The Iraqi security forces continued their counterterrorism measures against ISIS in the veracious provinces. The following are the attacks, mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility.
Diyala Province
  • On May 3, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle west of Tuz Khormato, about 100 km northeast of Samarra. The passengers on board were wounded.
  • On May 3, 2021, a plant owned by Shiites was targeted by gunfire in the Miqdadiya region, about 40 km northeast of Baqubah. Two Shiites were killed, two vehicles were set on fire, and six vehicles were put out of commission.
  • On May 1, 2021, a policeman was targeted by gunfire in the Al-Khales region, about 10 km northwest of Baqubah. He was wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, a Popular Mobilization camp was targeted by gunfire in the Naft Khana region, in the eastern part of the province, near the border between Iraq and Iran. Four Popular Mobilization fighters were wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Bahraz region, about 2 km southeast of Baqubah. Three soldiers and an officer were wounded. The vehicle was destroyed.
  • On April 29, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army sapper in the Al-Waqf region, northwest of Baqubah. He was wounded.
  • On April 28, 2021, an Iraqi soldier was targeted by gunfire west of Khanaqin. He was killed. An IED was activated against a vehicle arriving to evacuate his body. Three soldiers were wounded.
Kirkuk Province
  • On May 3, 2021, a police post was targeted by gunfire west of Daquq, in western Kirkuk. One policeman was wounded.
  • On May 3, 2021, a joint camp of the Iraqi army and the Tribal Mobilization forces was targeted by gunfire in Al-Samaka, south of Kirkuk. Four Iraqi soldiers and Tribal Mobilization fighters were killed and two were wounded.
  • On May 2, 2021, an Iraqi police base was targeted by gunfire in the Rashad region, about 40 km southeast of Kirkuk. One policeman was killed.
  • On April 30, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked Peshmerga forces in Pirde, northwest of Kirkuk. Three fighters were killed in the exchange of fire (www.kurdistan24.net, May 1, 2021). ISIS’s media outlets reported that a Peshmerga camp on the Erbil –Kirkuk road, northwest of Kirkuk, had been targeted by gunfire. According to ISIS, seven Peshmerga fighters, including a battalion commander, were killed. Several other fighters were wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, a gathering of Tribal Mobilization fighters was targeted by gunfire in Abu Ris, in the Riyad region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk. Definite hits were reportedly identified.
  • On April 30, 2021, rockets were fired at an Iraqi police post in the Riyad region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk. One policeman was killed. The post was damaged. On the same day, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police vehicle. Two policemen on board the vehicle were wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army headquarters near Zarka Bridge, about 90 km northeast of Samarra. Definite hits were identified. No casualties were reported. This is the second time in a month that the headquarters was attacked.
  • On April 29, 2021, a roadblock of the Iraqi army and police was targeted by gunfire in the Daquq region. Six soldiers and policemen were killed or wounded. A vehicle was put out of commission.
  • On April 29, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police vehicle near Ghaida, about 50 km south of Kirkuk. The vehicle was put out of commission. Another IED was activated against policemen who arrived on the scene. Several policemen were killed or wounded.
  • On April 29, 2021, an Iraqi police force was targeted by gunfire in the Hawija area, about 50 km east of Kirkuk. An officer and two policemen were killed. Several other policemen were wounded.
  • On April 29, 2021, a man wearing an explosive belt (apparently, an ISIS operative) attempted to enter the National Security Apparatus headquarters in Kirkuk. He was shot and killed by the security guards (Salah al-Din TV Channel, April 29, 2021).
Salah al-Din Province
  •  On May 1, 2021, rockets and mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army headquarters near Aboud, west of Tuz Khormato. Definite hits were reported.
Mortar shells being fired (Telegram, May 2, 2021)    Three rockets ready to be launched at the Iraqi army headquarters.    
Right: Three rockets ready to be launched at the Iraqi army headquarters. Left: Mortar shells being fired (Telegram, May 2, 2021)
  • On April 30, 2021, rockets were fired at an Iraqi army camp in Al-Abaiji, about 30 km north of Baghdad. Definite hits were identified. IEDs were activated against vehicles of Iraqi army and Tribal Mobilization forces arriving on the scene to provide assistance. All the passengers were killed. Nine soldiers, including two commanders and an intelligence officer, were killed in the incident, and several others were wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, an Iraqi army camp west of Tuz Khormato was targeted by gunfire. Two soldiers were killed.
  • On April 29, 2021, an Iraqi army roadblock was targeted by gunfire in the Mashahida region, about 20 km north of Baghdad. Two soldiers were wounded.
Al-Anbar Province
  • On April 29, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Akashat region, near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded.
  • On April 29, 2021, an Iraqi army camp was targeted by rockets and heavy weapons fire in the Nakhib region, about 90 km north of the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Several soldiers in the camp were killed or wounded. The camp went up in flames. On the same day, an IED was activated against a military vehicle near the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. An officer was killed and several soldiers were wounded. The vehicle was destroyed. In addition, two Iraqi soldiers were shot and killed on the Nakhib-Arar road.
Erbil Province
  • On May 2, 2021, Iraqi soldiers were targeted by gunfire. In response, artillery was fired at ISIS positions in the Makhmur region, about 70 km southeast of Mosul (iraqnewspaper.net, May 1, 2021; ANF, May 2, 2021).
Counterterrorism measures in Iraq
  • According to Iraqi Army Joint Operations Command Spokesman Tahsin al-Khafaji, intelligence and security efforts are taking place to prevent attacks against diplomatic missions, vital facilities and airports. According to him, they have information and intend to take steps in the future. Al-Khafaji added that relations between the Iraqi forces and the International Coalition forces are based on collaboration, since the Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. In addition, he said that the International Coalition actively participates in developing the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces through air support, the provision of strategic and security intelligence, training and equipping the forces (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, April 28, 2021).
Al-Anbar Province
  • On May 1, 2021, an ISIS operative was detained in the Al-Anbar Desert. He had been in charge of ISIS’s hideouts in the Al-Qaim region, near the border between Iraq and Syria (Al-Sumaria, May 1, 2021).
Salah al-Din Province
  • On May 2, 2021, the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization forces launched an operation to locate ISIS operatives throughout the province (Al-Sumaria, May 2, 2021).
Kirkuk Province
  • The Iraqi security forces detained an ISIS operative in the Hawija region, about 50 km east of Kirkuk. Reportedly, the operative had been in charge of ISIS’s post office in the Kirkuk Province (Al-Sumaria, May 3, 2021).
The Sinai Peninsula
  • ISIS operatives broke into houses in Al-Amal, south of Al-Arish, searching for suspected collaborators with the Egyptian army. Being unable to find them, they executed three of their relatives (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 1, 2021).
  • ISIS operatives sent threats to one of the fighters of the Tarabin tribe in central Sinai, claiming that he has dedicated his life to killing ISIS operatives and has headed an armed Bedouin force whose aim was to confront ISIS operatives. In their message, they noted that they would not kill him if ransom was paid (Anbaa Sinaa Facebook page, April 29, 2021).
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
  • ISIS posted an infographic summing up its activity around the globe on April 22-28, 2021. According to the infographic, the increase in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS from the beginning of the month of Ramadan continued. During the period in question, ISIS operatives carried out 80 attacks in the various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 63 in the previous week. The largest number of attacks were carried out in Iraq (38). Attacks carried out in ISIS’s other provinces: Syria (21); West Africa (10); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (8); Central Africa (2); and India (1) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, April 29, 2021).
  • According to the infographic, 181 people were killed or wounded in those attacks, compared to 153 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in Iraq (73). The other casualties were in the following provinces: West Africa (51); Syria (34); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (16); Central Africa (5); and India (2) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, April 29, 2021).
The infographic in ISIS’s Al-Naba' weekly (Al-Naba', Telegram, April 29, 2021)
The infographic in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’, Telegram, April 29, 2021)
Africa
  • This week, there has been an increase in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS operatives in Africa, mainly against military infrastructure. Particularly noteworthy are the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. This week, two attacks were carried out in Burkina Faso by armed groups. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but local security officials estimated that the perpetrators were members of a group affiliated with ISIS. The following are the incidents according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility.
Nigeria
  • On May 2, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked a Nigerian army camp in Rann, in northeastern Nigeria. An exchange of fire took place at the scene, in which several soldiers were killed or wounded.
  • On April 30, 2021, an IED was activated against a patrol of a militia loyal to the Nigerian army near Damboa, in northeastern Nigeria. A militia commander was killed and his motorcycle was destroyed.
  • On April 29, 2021, a Nigerian army post was attacked in Kanamma, near the border with Niger. Four soldiers were killed and three others were taken prisoner. ISIS operatives set fire to two tanks and an armored vehicle, and seized five vehicles, weapons and ammunition. ISIS operatives later spread out in the town and set fire to a communication pole. Shortly after the takeover, they left.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • On May 4, 2021, an attack was carried out against a Congolese army camp in Mangina, near Beni, ISIS’s stronghold in the Congo, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. One soldier was killed and several others were wounded. ISIS operatives took over the town and seized large quantities of weapons.
  • On May 4, 2021, several Congolese soldiers entered a minefield planted by ISIS operatives on the road connecting two army camps in the eastern Congo region of Rwenzori. At least three soldiers were killed and several others were wounded.
  • On May 1, 2021, according to an official source in the Congo, there was an attempt on the life of Islamic leader Sheikh Ali Amin Uthman in a mosque in Beni. He had reportedly received several death threats in the past year from operatives of the ISIS-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) (AP, May 2, 2021).
  • On May 2, 2021, ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a Congolese army patrol in the Rwenzori region. Two soldiers were killed. The ISIS operatives seized their weapons. On the same day, ISIS operatives attacked a Congolese army force concentrated in the area as part of the preparations for an operation against ISIS operatives. There was an exchange of fire, in which at least five soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. ISIS operatives demolished the site where the force had been concentrated.
  • On May 1, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked a Congolese army camp in one of the villages on the outskirts of Oicha, about 20 km north of Beni. There was an exchange of fire in which the soldiers of the camp fled. The ISIS operatives seized their equipment.
  • On May 1, 2021, ISIS operatives fired machine guns at a vehicle carrying Christian civilians in the Ituri region, about 80 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. The vehicle went up in flames and all the passengers were killed.
Niger
  • On April 29, 2021, an attack was carried out on a Nigerien army post in the Diffa region, on the Niger-Nigeria border. In the exchange of fire with the soldiers in the post, four soldiers were killed and three others were taken prisoner. Several soldiers were wounded. The ISIS operatives set fire to three armored vehicles and seized five vehicles, weapons and ammunition. Subsequently, the ISIS operatives raided the town and took it over.
Burkina Faso
  • Two terrorist attacks were carried out by armed groups in the region near the border with Niger. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but local security officials estimated that the perpetrators were members of an ISIS-affiliated group operating along the Burkina Faso-Niger border (AP, April 29, 2021; Al-Jazeera, April 29, 2021). On May 3, 2021, about 100 armed operatives, in trucks and on motorcycles, raided the village of Kodyel, killing at least 30 people. A few days earlier, on April 29, 2021, a senior Burkina Faso government official reported that at least 18 people had been shot and killed by terrorist operatives in the village of Yattakou (AP, April 29, 2021; Al-Jazeera, April 29, 2021).
Mali
  • Operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province reportedly ambushed and attacked operatives of the Azawad Liberation Movement (a national-military movement of the Tuareg tribes in the Azawad region, which covers about two-thirds of Mali), killing 18 of them. Shortly afterwards, ISIS’s media outlets published pictures of the attack and the dead.
Burned vehicle (Telegram, May 4, 2021).    Photos of the dead Azawad Liberation Movement operatives published by ISIS.
Right: Photos of the dead Azawad Liberation Movement operatives published by ISIS. Left: Burned vehicle (Telegram, May 4, 2021).
Chad
  • Mortar shells were fired at a Chadian army camp in Litri, in western Chad. Definite hits were identified. It should be noted that a camp in the town (possibly the same camp) was attacked by ISIS operatives on April 26, 2021, and 20 soldiers were killed or wounded in the exchange of fire that took place there.

Asia

Afghanistan
  • This week, too, ISIS attacked Afghan security officials. Most of the incidents were in the city of Jalalabad. Following are several noteworthy attacks, according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
    • On May 2, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan police vehicle. An officer and two of his escorts were killed, two policemen were wounded and the vehicle was destroyed.
    • On April 28, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan police vehicle. One policeman was killed and two others were wounded.
    • On April 28, 2021, ISIS operatives fired at a “spy” who worked for the Afghan security forces in Khogyani, in the Nangarhar Province, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
    • On April 27, 2021, ISIS operatives killed two Afghan security personnel in Kabul. It was not stated how they were killed.
Turkey
  • The Turkish authorities continued their counterterrorism activity against ISIS operatives in Turkey. As part of this activity, Turkish police in eastern Istanbul arrested a senior ISIS official from Afghanistan, codenamed Basim, who was reportedly very close to ISIS’s former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and served as his right-hand man (AFP, May 1, 2021). In another operation, security forces arrested 16 people on suspicion of helping to finance ISIS’s activity (Anatolia News Agency, May 1, 2021).

Europe

Germany
  • Legal sources in Germany have revealed that in January 2021, near the German-Swiss border, they arrested Aymen A. J., an Iraqi immigrant suspected of raising money for ISIS (AP, April 30, 2021).
Russia
  • In Moscow, Russian security forces arrested Islambek Ezhayev, founder of the Islamic publishing house Ummah, on suspicion of raising about half a million dollars for ISIS’s activity (Rusiya al-Yaum, April 30, 2021).
The battle for hearts and minds
  • The main article in the latest issue of ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly, entitled The Claims of the Bankrupt, was devoted to various Western (“Crusader”) interpretations of ISIS’s condition. According to the article, there has recently been talk in the West about the “return of ISIS,” but in practice the organization has not stopped its activity for a single moment. According to the author, the West, which until recently claimed that ISIS had been liquidated, finds itself at a loss in the face of ISIS’s “return” and provides interpretations about its condition that are not grounded in reality. The claim by the West that ISIS has transferred most of its activity from Syria and Iraq to other regions, such as Africa, Central Asia, etc., is also incorrect, since in practice the organization continues to strike at its enemies in Syria and Iraq, while continuing its activity in other areas around the globe. The claim by commentators in the West that poverty and unemployment are causing an increase in the number of ISIS operatives is incorrect, wealthy operatives from the Arabian Peninsula and Europe have come to ISIS’s Islamic State. In conclusion, the author notes that with the fall of Al-Baghouz on March 23, 2019, the West erroneously thought that it had liquidated ISIS, but its hopes have been dashed (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, April 29, 2021).
The article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, April 29, 2021)
The article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, April 29, 2021)