Spotlight on Global Jihad (August 27 – September 2, 2020)

Hit by an air-to-surface missile launched from a Russian aircraft in an attack on a target northwest of Idlib (Edlib Media Center, August 30, 2020).

Hit by an air-to-surface missile launched from a Russian aircraft in an attack on a target northwest of Idlib (Edlib Media Center, August 30, 2020).

SDF weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives near the Syria-Iraq border.

SDF weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives near the Syria-Iraq border.

An Iraqi army officer and soldiers near some of the captured weapons.

An Iraqi army officer and soldiers near some of the captured weapons.

An ISIS operative is about to fire an RPG at a police compound (Telegram, August 29, 2018).

An ISIS operative is about to fire an RPG at a police compound (Telegram, August 29, 2018).

Popular Mobilization fighters near ordnance found in the Anbar Province (al-hashed.net, August 30, 2020)

Popular Mobilization fighters near ordnance found in the Anbar Province (al-hashed.net, August 30, 2020)

Weapons and other military equipment (including a motorbike) seized from ISIS operatives.

Weapons and other military equipment (including a motorbike) seized from ISIS operatives.

Weapons and other military equipment (including a motorbike) seized from ISIS operatives.

Weapons and other military equipment (including a motorbike) seized from ISIS operatives.

Overview
  • ISIS’s provinces in Asia and Africa continue their routine activities. Prominent this past week were the following:
    • The Iraq Province: ISIS continues its intensive attacks detonating IEDs, carrying out targeted killings, firing mortars and attacking posts and facilities of the Iraqi security forces. ISIS operatives killed a senior Popular Mobilization brigadier general (after having killed three Iraqi army colonels during the past month and a half). ISIS detonated two car bombs at Iraqi security force roadblocks. ISIS’s activity in the past week is an additional indication of the improvement in ISIS’s operational capabilities in the Iraqi arena.
    • The Sinai Province: Egyptian security forces attacked ISIS operatives in the five villages in the Rabi’a area occupied by ISIS on July 21, 2020. According to media reports the villages were captured by Egyptian security forces and ISIS suffered heavy losses. ISIS claimed it had repelled the Egyptian army attempts to regain control of the villages. At this point it is unclear if ISIS has in fact been expelled, at least partially, from the Rabi’a region.
    • Mozambique: ISIS operatives took control of an important port in the northeastern part of the country on August 12, 2020. According to reports the Mozambique security forces are planning an operation to regain control of the port. About 60 kilometers within the maritime area there are large gas fields exploited by international corporations. In ISIS’s perspective control of the port is important because it provides an outlet to the sea and can be used for smuggling weapons and as a launching ground for its activity in Madagascar and Tanzania.
ISIS’s Activity Worldwide
Summary of ISIS activity during the past year
  • On August 27, 2020, ISIS published an infographic summarizing its activities during the past year (between August 31, 2019 and August 19, 2020). During the year ISIS operatives carried out 4,722 attacks around the globe, up from 3,665 the previous year, an increase of about 29% (ISIS’s weekly publication al-Naba’, Telegram, August 27, 2018).
  • Almost half of the attacks – 2,123, about 45% of the total – were carried out in Iraq, ISIS’s main area of activity. Following Iraq was Syria – 1,064 attacks, about 22% of the total. The remaining attacks were carried out in ISIS’s various provinces in Africa and Asia: West Africa (565), the Sinai Peninsula (338), Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (198), Central Africa (120), East Asia (69) and Somalia (51). The remaining 59 attacks were carried out as follows: Pakistan (24), Libya (18), Bangladesh (7), India (3), Algeria (2), Tunisia (2), the Maldives (1), Britain (1), and Tajikistan (1) (al-Naba’, Telegram, August 27, 2020).
  • More than 15,522 people were killed in the attacks (similar to the previous year, in which more than 15,845 people were killed or wounded). The largest number of killed and wounded, 4,404, was in Iraq. The rest were in the various provinces: West Africa (primarily Nigeria) (4,141), Syria (2,271), Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (1,601), the Sinai Province (966), Central Africa (881), Yemen (538), East Asia (445), Somalia (122), and Pakistan (92). The remaining 61 were distributed as follows: Algeria (18), Bangladesh (13), Tajikistan (10), Tunisia (10), Libya (6) and India (4) (Telegram, August 27, 2018).
Infographic summarizing ISIS's annual activity (Telegram, August 27, 2020).
Infographic summarizing ISIS’s annual activity
(Telegram, August 27, 2020).
Weekly summary of ISIS global activity
  • On August 27, 2020, ISIS published an infographic with the title “The harvest of the fighters,” which summarized ISIS activities between August 20 and 26, 2020. During the week ISIS claimed its operatives carried out 71 attacks around the globe, up from 62 the previous week (i.e., an increase of 14%). Forty-nine were carried out in Iraq, most of them (16) in the Anbar Province. The rest of the attacks were carried out in the various provinces in Africa and Asia: Syria (12), West Africa (3), Central Africa (2), Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (2), the Sinai Province (2), and East Asia (1) (i.e., the Philippines) (al-Naba’, Telegram, August 27, 2020).
  • According to the infographic, the attacks killed and injured more than 205 people, compared with 233 the previous week (i.e., a decrease of 12%). The largest number was in Iraq (98). The distribution of the other killed and wounded in the various provinces was the following: East Africa (primarily Mozambique) (80), Syria (18), West Africa (primarily Nigeria) (4), the Sinai Province (2), Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (2). And East Asia (the Philippines) (1) (Telegram, August 27, 2020). During the week there was a decrease in the number of killed and wounded in the West Africa province compared with previous weeks.
The Syrian Arena
The Idlib region

This past week exchanges of artillery fire continued in the Idlib region between the Syrian army and the rebel organizations. As in previous weeks, the clashes were mainly in Jebal al-Zawiya and the regions to the south and southwest of Idlib. Aerial attacks carried out by Russian aircraft were also reported to the northwest of Idlib (Edlib Media Center, August 30, 2018).

ISIS activity in the Syrian Province[1]
ISIS’s activity in the Deir al-Zor-al-Mayadeen-Albukamal region
  • August 31, 2020: Machineguns were used to attack the head of a commune who collaborated with the SDF. The attack took place about 14 kilometers north of al-Mayadeen. He head of the commune and an [SDF] intelligence agent were killed.
  • August 30, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an SDF vehicle near an oil field about five kilometers east of al-Mayadeen. The passengers in the vehicle were wounded.
  • August 28, 2020: ISIS operatives broke into the house of an SDF fighter 17 kilometers southeast of al-Mayadeen and shot him to death with machineguns.
  • August 27, 2020: ISIS operatives attacked a Shi’ite shrine about nine kilometers southeast of al-Mayadeen. Several Shi’ite militia fighters were killed and others were wounded. People visiting the site escaped to al-Mayadeen. Syrian army aircraft helped repel the attack (Deir al-Zor24, August 28, 2020).
  • August 27, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an SDF water tanker near the oilfield about five kilometers from al-Mayadeen. The tanker crew was wounded.
The al-Raqqa region
  • August 28, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an SDF vehicle about nine kilometers northwest of al-Raqqa. The passengers in the vehicle were either killed or wounded.
The al-Hasakeh region
  • August 28, 2020: ISIS operatives attacked an SDF facility about five kilometers west of the Syria-Iraq border, about 75 kilometers southeast of al-Hasakeh. Five SDF fighters were killed. Weapons and ammunition were seized.
  • August 27, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an SDF vehicle about 35 kilometers east of al-Shadadi, about 82 kilometers from al-Hasakeh. Two SDF fighters were killed.
The Aleppo region
  • September 1, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an SDF vehicle in the city of Manbij, about 77 kilometers northeast of Aleppo. The passengers in the vehicle were wounded.
South Syria
  • August 31, 2020: Machineguns were used to shoot and kill a Syrian army security guard about 20 kilometers south east of Daraa.
The Iraqi Arena
Map of the provinces in Iraq (Wikipedia)
Map of the provinces in Iraq
(Wikipedia)
The Americans limit their order of combat in Iraq
  • A senior source in the American Department of Defense announced the decision to limit the order of combat of American forces in Iraq by a third. Thus only 3,500 American troops will remain in the country (Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2020). Reducing the number of American troops in Iraq is liable to have a negative effect on the campaign against ISIS specifically at a time when the organization is increasing the volume and effectiveness of its activities in the Iraqi arena.
ISIS attacks[2]

This past week the intensity of ISIS’s attacks in the Iraqi arena grew and were distributed among more ISIS provinces. Notable was the killing of a Popular Mobilization brigadier general, a follow-up to the killing of three Iraqi army colonels during the past month and a half. ISIS’s activities during the past week included detonating IEDs, carrying out targeted killings, firing mortars and attacking roadblocks, posts, facilities and vehicles of the Iraqi security forces.

The killing of a senior Popular Mobilization officer
  • On August 28, 2020, ISIS operatives killed ‘Amer Ahmed Saleh, aka Abu Haidar al-Ansari, an Iraqi officer with the rank of brigadier general. He was the commander of the Popular Mobilization’s artillery in the Diyala Province (al-hashed.net, August 28, 2020). ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing. According to the claim of responsibility, ISIS snipers fired at a concentration of Popular Mobilization forces west of Khanaqin, killing a brigadier general, commander of the Popular Mobilization’s artillery in the Diyala Province. Killed with him were two fighters, and one fighter was wounded.
Brigadier General 'Amer Ahmed Saleh, commander of Popular Mobilization artillery in the Diyala Province (al-hashed.net, August 28, 2020).
Brigadier General ‘Amer Ahmed Saleh, commander of Popular Mobilization artillery in the Diyala Province (al-hashed.net, August 28, 2020).

It was the fourth time in the past month and a half that ISIS snipers had killed senior Iraqi security force officers: Colonel Hashem Muhammad was killed (on August 21, 2020), and two commanders of Iraqi army brigades were killed in operational activities (on July 17 and 28, 2020, respectively). Their deaths are a blow to the morale of the Iraqi army and additional indication of the improvement of ISIS’s operational capabilities in the Iraqi arena.

Using car bombs to attack Iraqi security force roadblocks
  • This past week ISIS detonated two car bombs to attack Iraqi security force roadblocks. Using car bombs, a form of attack not used in recent months, is an additional indication of the improvement of ISIS’s operational capabilities in the Iraqi arena.
  • The two car bomb attacks were the following:
    • On September 1, 2020 a parked car bomb was detonated to attack an Iraqi army roadblock in the city of al-Ramadi, about 90 kilometers west of Baghdad. Three Iraqi army soldiers were killed and five were wounded. The roadblock was destroyed. According to ISIS’s A’maq news agency, ISIS operatives parked the car bomb in the evening at a road block used by both the Iraqi army and police force (Telegram, September 1, 2020)
    • On the morning of September 1, 2020 a car bomb was detonated to attack an Iraqi security force check point on the Tikrit-Kirkuk road. A woman was killed and three security force operatives were wounded (al-Sumaria, September 1, 2020). So far no organization had claimed responsibility for the attack, but apparently it was carried out by ISIS.
Iraqi security force checkpoint on the Tikrit-Kirkuk road, destroyed by an ISIS car bomb (al-Sumaria, September 1, 2020).    Iraqi security force checkpoint on the Tikrit-Kirkuk road, destroyed by an ISIS car bomb (al-Sumaria, September 1, 2020).
Iraqi security force checkpoint on the Tikrit-Kirkuk road, destroyed by an ISIS car bomb
(al-Sumaria, September 1, 2020).
ISIS activities in the various provinces
The Salah al-Din Province
  • August 29, 2020: Hand grenades were thrown at an Iraqi army observation tower about 30 kilometers north of Baghdad. The tower was damaged. The following day ISIS operatives detonated an IED to attack an Iraqi army foot patrol near the tower. A company commander and two soldiers were killed, and five soldiers were wounded.
  • August 29, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle south of Tikrit. The passengers in the vehicle were jilled or wounded.
ISIS detonates the IED.    Popular Mobilization vehicle before the ISIS IED was detonated.
Right: Popular Mobilization vehicle before the ISIS IED was detonated. Left: ISIS detonates the IED.
  • August 28, 2020: Machineguns were used to attack a bus carrying Shi’ite and Popular Mobilization fighters. The bus was on the Baghdad-Kirkuk road about 85 kilometers south of Kirkuk. Several fighters and Shi’ites [civilians] were killed or wounded.
  • August 27, 2020: Machineguns were used to shoot and kill a Tribal Mobilization fighter about 30 kilometers north of Baghdad.
  • August 27, 2020: Machineguns were used to attack an Iraqi police roadblock about 150 kilometers north of Baghdad. Two policemen were killed.
  • August 27, 2020: ISIS operatives raided a Popular Mobilization facility, killing one fighter and wounding another.
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle northwest of Tikrit. Two fighters were killed and another wounded.
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle east of Tikrit. The passengers in the vehicle were killed or wounded.
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization roadblock about ten kilometers north of central Tikrit. Several fighters were wounded.
  • August 25, 2020: A limpet IED was detonated to attack the vehicle of a Tribal Mobilization commander about 25 kilometers northwest of Tikrit. The commander was killed and the vehicle was destroyed.
  • August 25, 2020: Machineguns were fired and hand grenades were thrown at an Iraqi army soldier about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. The soldier was wounded.
The Diyala Province
  • August 31, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 60 kilometers north of Baqubah. The passengers in the vehicle were killed or wounded.
  • August 30, 2020: Sniper fire was used to attack a concentration of Tribal Mobilization forces about 60 kilometers north of Baqubah. Three fighters were killed and two were wounded.
  • August 29, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle about five kilometers south of Baqubah. The passengers in the vehicle were killed or wounded.
  • August 27, 2020: Machineguns were fired to attack a concentration of Iraqi army forces about 40 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. Three soldiers were killed.
  • August 27, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 40 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. One soldier was killed and three were wounded.
  • August 26, 2020: ISIS operatives ambushed Popular Mobilization fighters, attacking them with machineguns near a village northwest of Khanaqin, about 100 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. Three fighters and the village mukhtar were killed.
The Nineveh Province
  • August 29, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 40 kilometers south of Mosul. Passengers in the vehicle were wounded.
  • August 28, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack Tribal Mobilization truck about 40 kilometers south of Mosul. One fighter was wounded.
  • August 28, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 80 kilometers west of Kirkuk. One soldier was killed and another was wounded.
  • August 28, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army foot patrol about 40 kilometers south of Mosul. A officer and soldier were killed.
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack the mukhtar of a village about 60 kilometers north of Baqubah. He and his son, who serves in the Tribal Mobilization, were wounded.
  • August 26, 2020: A limpet IED was detonated to attack the vehicle of a Popular Mobilization fighter in the suburbs of Baqubah. The fighter was killed.
  • August 26, 2020: A limpet IED was detonated to attack the vehicle of an Iraqi SWAT agent west of Baqubah. The agent was killed.
The Anbar Province
  • August 30, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle about 30 kilometers southeast of the Iraq-Syria border. Two fighters were killed and one was wounded.
  • August 30, 2020: ISIS operatives captured an Iraqi intelligence agent about 80 kilometers east of al-Qa’im. He was shot and killed.
  • August 28, 2020: ISIS operatives attacked an Iraqi army compound about 35 kilometers west of al-Rataba. One soldier was killed and others were wounded.
  • August 27, 2020: ISIS snipers shot and killed two Popular Mobilization fighters near the Iraq-Syria border. In the same area an IED was detonated to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle. Four passengers in the vehicle were killed. ISIS also ambushed Popular Mobilization fighters nearby, killing three.
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi border police vehicle near the Iraq-Jordan border. Two soldiers were killed and one was wounded.
  • August 25, 2020: ISIS operatives attacked an Iraqi army compound near the Iraq-Syria border, killing two soldiers and wounded others.
  • August 25, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 35 kilometers west of al-Ramadi. Three soldiers were killed or wounded.
  • August 24, 2020: Machinegun fire was used to shoot and kill an Iraqi national intelligence agent east of Fallujah.
The Babylon Province
  • August 27, 2020: Machineguns was used to attack a Popular Mobilization facility about 40 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. Three fighters were killed. Previously (on August 25) machineguns was used to attack a Popular Mobilization vehicle in the same area.
The Kirkuk Province
  • September 1, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Iraqi army vehicle about 70 kilometers south of Kirkuk. One soldier was killed and others were wounded.
  • August 31, 2020: ISIS operatives used machineguns and launched RPGs at an Iraqi army compound about 70 kilometers south of Kirkuk. Three soldiers were killed.
ISIS operative launches an RPG at an Iraqi army compound (Telegram, September 1, 2020).
ISIS operative launches an RPG at an Iraqi army compound
(Telegram, September 1, 2020).
  • August 31, 2020: ISIS operatives placed and detonated IEDs at an Iraqi intelligence headquarters about 70 kilometers south of Kirkuk. The headquarters was destroyed.
  • August 30, 2020: ISIS operatives captured an Iraqi police agent about 30 kilometers south of Kirkuk. The agent was interrogated and executed.
  • August 29, 2020: Snipers shot and killed an Iraqi policeman northwest of Kirkuk.
  • August 28, 2020:ISIS operatives used machineguns to attack an Iraqi police compound about 40 kilometers west of Kirkuk. One policeman was killed and two were wounded.
  • August 26, 2020: Machinegun fire shot and killed a Tribal Mobilization fighter about 35 kilometers northwest of Kirkuk.
Iraqi security forces’ counterterrorism activity
The Anbar Province
  • August 31, 2020: Teams of the Iraqi intelligence agency captured 12 wanted ISIS operatives in the Anbar Province. The operatives were security personnel, military operatives and administrators. During their initial interrogation they confessed to having carried out many attacks against the security forces and causing the deaths of Iraqi civilians. In addition, stores of weapons were found (al-Sumaria, August 31, 2020).
  • August 31, 2020: The Iraqi security forces searching the area to the north of the Baghdad-Amman road found barrels hidden in the ground containing weapons belonging to ISIS. Dozens of IEDs were also found, as well as containers of C4 plastic explosive (Facebook page of the Iraqi ministry of defense, August 31, 2020).
An ISIS IED found by Iraqi army soldiers (Facebook page of the Iraqi ministry of defense, August 31, 2020).    An Iraqi army officer and soldiers near some of the captured weapons.
Right: An Iraqi army officer and soldiers near some of the captured weapons. Left: An ISIS IED found by Iraqi army soldiers (Facebook page of the Iraqi ministry of defense, August 31, 2020).
  • August 30, 2020: A Popular Mobilization force operating in the Anbar Province found an ISIS guest house with a workshop for manufacturing IEDs. IEDs and large quantities of other equipment were found (al-hashed.net, August 30, 2020).
Popular Mobilization fighters near ordnance found in the Anbar Province (al-hashed.net, August 30, 2020)
Popular Mobilization fighters near ordnance found in the Anbar Province
(al-hashed.net, August 30, 2020)
The Babylon Province
  • August 29, 2020: A team of police demolitions experts located an underground weapons store about 35 kilometers south of Baghdad. They found weapons, ammunition and an IED (al-Sumaria, August 29, 2020).
The Sinai Peninsula
The fighting in the Rabi’a Region
Overview

According to media reports, the Egyptian army regained control of the five villages west of Bir al-Abd, which were occupied by ISIS about a month ago (or at least control of most of them). On August 26, 2020, the Egyptian army reported it had retaken the villages of Aqtia, al-Jenain and Rabi’a. On August 28, 2020, it was reported that the village of Qatia had been liberated from ISIS and that ISIS operatives remained only in the village of al-Marih, but it was later reported that it had been captured as well[3]. However, ISIS’s Sinai Province claimed it had repelled the attempts of the Egyptian army to take over the villages (al-Araby al-Jadeed, based on “tribal sources in Sinai,” August 31, 2020). At this point it is unclear if in fact the area has been entirely or only partially purged of ISIS operatives.

The site of the attack at Rabi'a, about 40 kilometers from the Suez Canal (Google Maps).    The five villages occupied by ISIS on July 21, 2020. The uppermost one is the village of Rabi'a, near which ISIS carried out a major attack on the Egyptian army camp (Mada Masr, July 27, 2020).
Right: The five villages occupied by ISIS on July 21, 2020. The uppermost one is the village of Rabi’a, near which ISIS carried out a major attack on the Egyptian army camp (Mada Masr, July 27, 2020). Left: The site of the attack at Rabi’a, about 40 kilometers from the Suez Canal (Google Maps).
The recapture of the five villages
  • According to an announcement from the Egyptian armed forces’ spokesman, and according to media reports, Egyptian forces attacked ISIS operatives in the five villages they had occupied on July 21, 2020. The Egyptian armed forces’ spokesman announced that 73 ISIS operatives (“terrorist operatives”) had been killed, and that the Egyptian forces had destroyed weapons, bunkers and storehouses containing explosives and ammunition (Facebook page of the Egyptian armed forces’ spokesman, August 30, 2020; al-Araby al-Jadeed, August 31, 2020).
The Egyptian air force destroys an ISIS vehicle (Facebook page of the Egyptian army spokesman, August 30, 2020).    Clouds of smoke rise from the Egyptian air force attack on structures used by ISIS.
Right: Clouds of smoke rise from the Egyptian air force attack on structures used by ISIS. Left: The Egyptian air force destroys an ISIS vehicle (Facebook page of the Egyptian army spokesman, August 30, 2020).
  • ISIS operatives detonated IEDs and carried out suicide bombing attacks against the Egyptian army to halt the advance of the Egypt forces and the occupation of the villages. At this point it is unclear if the ISIS operatives continue fighting in the Rabi’a region. The following were ISIS’s announcements:
  • August 30. 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Egyptian army vehicle in the village of Aqtia, west of Bir al-Abd. The passengers in the vehicle were killed or wounded.
  • August 29, 2020: An ISIS suicide bomber named Abu Azzam al-Masri [“the Egyptian”] drove a car bomb towards a concentration of Egyptian army forces and detonated it (in the village of Aqtia). A number of soldiers were killed or wounded (Telegram, August 29, 2020).
Smoke rises after the detonation of an ISIS car bomb (Telegram, August 29, 2020).    ISIS car bomb driven by a suicide bomber en route to a concentration of Egyptian army forces in the village of Aqtia.
Right: ISIS car bomb driven by a suicide bomber en route to a concentration of Egyptian army forces in the village of Aqtia. Left: Smoke rises after the detonation of an ISIS car bomb (Telegram, August 29, 2020).
  • August 28, 2020: An IED was detonated to attack an Egyptian army tank in the village of Aqtia. The tank crew was killed or wounded (Telegram, August 28, 2020).
  • August 27, 2020: A IED was detonated to attack an Egyptian army vehicle in the town of Aqtia. The passengers in the vehicle were killed or wounded (Telegram, August 28, 2020).
ISIS Activity around the Globe
Africa
Nigeria[4]
  • August 26, 2020: ISIS operatives ambushed and machinegunned Nigerian army soldiers west of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in northeast Nigeria. A number of soldiers were killed or wounded.
  • August 25, 2020: ISIS operatives ambushed and machinegunned Nigerian army soldiers north and northeast of Maiduguri. A number of soldiers were killed or wounded, and the rest escaped. Weapons, ammunition and vehicles were seized.
Chad
  • August 26, 2020: An IED was used to attack a Chad army vehicle in the western part of the country. Seven soldiers were killed.
Mozambique

On August 12, 2020, ISIS operatives carried out a broad attack on the port of Mocimboa da Praia in the northeastern part of Mozambique, and took control of it. Government security forces fled, many of them by boat. Near the port (about 60 kilometers inside the maritime area) there are large gas fields where a number of international corporations operate gas-producing projects. The value of the projects is estimated at $60 billion, and the port supplies the corporations’ needs (BBC, August 12, 2020) according to a report, the security forces of Mozambique are currently planning an operation to regain control of the port (AP, August 25, 2020).

The port of Mocimboa da Praia in northeast Mozambique near the Tanzania border (Google Maps)
The port of Mocimboa da Praia in northeast Mozambique near the Tanzania border (Google Maps)
  • It was not the first time ISIS took control of the port. On March 23, 2020, ISIS took over not only the port but part of the town nearby along with a military base. The following day the Mozambique army retained control of the port and the area around it (Reuters, March 23, 2020; clubofmozambique.com, March 25, 2020).
  • In ITIC assessment, the takeover of the port was a shot in the arm for ISIS’s morale in general and for the ISIS operatives in Mozambique in particular. ISIS’s Central Africa Province, which operates in Mozambique, recently increased its control over the northeastern part of the country. If the Mozambique security forces do not succeed it regaining control over the port the country’s economy may suffer significantly. Moreover, control of the port is important in ISIS’s perspective, because it gives the organization an outlet to the sea, which may be used to smuggle weapons and as a launching ground from which to extend its activity in Madagascar and Tanzania.
  • ISIS related to the takeover of the port in its weekly publication, al-Naba’. According to an article, dozens of Mozambique army soldiers were killed or wounded during the attack on the port, which lasted for several days. During the attack ISIS operatives seized large quantities of weapons, ammunition and equipment. According to the report, the attack began with the takeover of two military bases inside the port town, which lasted for several hours. The following day a third army base was occupied and after that ISIS took control of the town and the port and the nearby villages (al-Naba’ reported by Telegram, August 27, 2020).
Body of Mozambique soldier (al-Naba', reported by Telegram, August 27, 2020).     ISIS operatives in the port area.
Right: ISIS operatives in the port area. Left: Body of Mozambique soldier
(al-Naba’, reported by Telegram, August 27, 2020).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • August 29, 2020: ISIS operatives attacked a Congo army facility in the Beni region, which lies in the northeastern part of the country about seven kilometers from the Uganda border. Four soldiers were killed and the rest escaped. In addition, ISIS operatives ambushed and machinegunned a Congolese army APC, killing five soldiers. ISIS reported that nine soldiers had been killed.
Asia
Afghanistan
  • August 28, 2020: ISIS operatives detonated an IED to attack a Shi’ite concentration in the city of Herat, about 120 kilometers east of the Afghanistan-Iran border. Five Shi’ites were killed or wounded.
Counterterrorism Activity
Report about the detention of the ISIS commander in Turkey
  • The Turkish minister of the interior announced that Mahmut Özden, the ISIS “emir” [commander] in Turkey had been detained in the southern Adana Province. Three ISIS operatives were detained with him. The minister of the interior said the detention had been made possible by information obtained from the interrogation of an ISIS operative detained on August 25, 2020. He was detained in a raid carried out in Istanbul, while the operative was planning an attack in the city (Hürriyet Daily News, September 1, 2020).

[1] All claims of responsibility and reports from Telegram unless otherwise noted.
[2] According to claims of responsibility issued by Telegram.

[3] According to the BBC, three Egypt officers and five soldiers were killed in the village of al-Marih while removing IEDs left behind by ISIS operatives (BBC, August 31, 2020).

[4] According to claims of responsibility issued via Telegram.