Main events of the past week
- Afghanistan: There was a significant decrease in ISIS’s activity this week. Two attacks were carried out in the capital Kabul, killing six Taliban members.
- Syria: Artillery exchanges continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. The Russian Air Force provided air support, carrying out dozens of airstrikes. In the desert region (Al-Badia): Five soldiers were killed and 20 others were wounded by rockets fired by ISIS at a military bus in which they were traveling. In the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region: ISIS continued to attack the SDF forces, which sustained losses this week. ISIS operatives set fire to an oil well north of the city of Deir ez-Zor.
- Iraq: This week, ISIS concentrated its activity mainly on Iraqi army forces and counterterrorism units operating against ISIS in the Hamrin region in the northern part of the Diyala Province. The Iraqi security forces continued their counterterrorism activity.
- Sinai: An Egyptian soldier and a fighter from the Sinai Tribal Union were reportedly killed this week in two different incidents, in the Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid region.
- This week, there was a decrease in ISIS’S activity in Africa as well. Most of the attacks targeted Christian villages in Nigeria and Mozambique.
- Lebanon: Lebanese foreign fighters have reportedly joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria, apparently in light of the dire economic situation in Lebanon.
- The battle for hearts and minds: The lead article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to ISIS’s attitude to Christianity. The author called on ISIS’s operatives and supporters to fight the Christians and turn their holidays into mourning events. An infographic published in the weekly encourages ISIS’s operatives and supporters to carry out terrorist acts in the wintertime, on the grounds that the reward for an operation carried out in the wintertime is higher.
- This week, there has been a decrease in ISIS’s activity in Afghanistan against Taliban members and government institutions. There were two attacks in Kabul (according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram). On January 1, 2022, an IED was activated against a Taliban patrol, killing and wounding six Taliban members. On December 28, 2021, an IED was activated against a Shiite resident’s vehicle. He was killed and his car went up in flames.
The Syrian arena
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
The Idlib region
- This week, artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel organizations in the Idlib enclave. The Russian Air Force attacked rebel targets in the enclave several times (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 3, 2022).
The desert region (Al-Badia)
- ISIS operatives fired a rocket and mortar shells at a bus carrying Syrian soldiers in the desert region between Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra. Five soldiers were killed and 20 others were wounded (SANA, January 3, 2022). The Russian Air Force carried out several dozen airstrikes against ISIS targets in the desert region southwest of Deir ez-Zor (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 1-3, 2022).
- With ISIS attacks continuing in the region, an agreement was signed on December 31, 2021, between Iran, represented by Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers, and Russia. The parties are to collaborate as part of a new strategy to cope with ISIS in the desert region. As part of the agreement, it was decided to set up a joint center in the desert region (western Deir ez-Zor Province) (Al-Hal, January 2, 2022).
Deir ez-Zor and Al-Mayadeen
- On January 1, 2022, two rockets were fired at an SDF roadblock in the Abu Hamam region, about 70 km east of Deir ez-Zor. Several fighters were killed and wounded. According to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a person unknown riding a motorcycle, apparently an ISIS operative, fired a rocket at an SDF post in the Abu Hamam region. No casualties were reported (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, January 1, 2022).
- On January 3, 2022, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle in Kubar, about 30 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. The passengers on board were wounded (Telegram, January 4, 2022).
- On December 30, 2021, ISIS operatives set fire to an oil well in the SDF control area north of Deir ez-Zor (Telegram, December 31, 2021).
ISIS operative near the oil well which was set on fire (Telegram, December 31, 2021)
- On December 29, 2021, an SDF patrol was targeted by gunfire between Albu Badran and Soussa, in the Albukamal region. Several fighters were wounded and the vehicle was put out of commission (Telegram, December 30, 2021).
- On December 29, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF ATV in Al-Izba, about 3 km northeast of Deir ez-Zor. Two fighters were killed and several others were wounded. The vehicle was put out of commission (Telegram, December 30, 2021).
- On December 28, 2021, two “sorcerers” were captured in their homes in Sweidan, about 60 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor. They were both executed. A rifle found in the possession of one of them was seized by ISIS (Telegram, December 29, 2021).
- On December 29, 2021, SDF forces detained an ISIS operative northeast of Al-Hasakah. He had financed ISIS’s activity (Kurdistan24, December 29, 2021).
The Iraqi arena
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Attacks by province
- This week, the downtrend in ISIS’s attacks continued in all of the Iraqi provinces. In the Hamrin region in the northern Diyala Province, where Iraqi army forces are operating against ISIS, ISIS carried out several attacks against the forces. Following are the details.
- On January 3, 2022, an Iraqi police post was attacked in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. One policeman was killed and another was wounded. A patrol arriving on the scene was attacked by gunfire. Two vehicles were damaged.
- This week, ISIS attacked several times Iraqi army forces operating in the Hamrin Mountains, in the north of the province. ISIS operatives fired at an Iraqi army patrol. Three soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. An IED was activated against a vehicle, destroying it and killing and wounding the passengers on board. An IED was activated against a foot patrol. Several soldiers were killed or wounded. In addition, forces of the Iraqi government’s counterterrorism unit were targeted by gunfire. Three fighters were killed and several others were wounded. At the same time, it was reported that the Iraqi security forces had killed three ISIS operatives and liberated two abducted people in the area (Al-Sumaria, December 29, 2021).
- On December 31, 2021, a Popular Mobilization patrol trying to ambush ISIS operatives in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah, was targeted by gunfire. Two fighters were killed and two others were wounded.
Salah al-Din Province
- On January 2, 2022, a Tribal Mobilization “spy” was killed east of Tikrit.
- On January 1, 2022, an Iraqi army patrol trying to ambush ISIS operatives west of Tuz Khormato, about 100 km northeast of Samarra, was targeted by gunfire. A vehicle went up in flames and the passengers on board were wounded. An ambulance arriving on the scene to evacuate the wounded was targeted by gunfire as well. The ambulance was reportedly put out of commission and its crew fled the scene.
- On December 30, 2021, an Iraqi army foot patrol was targeted by sniper fire in orchards near Tarmiyah, about 30 km north of Baghdad. Two soldiers were wounded.
- On December 30, 2021, the Iraqi security forces detained four ISIS operatives who were planning to attack a prison where ISIS operatives are being held (Al-Sumaria, December 30, 2021).
- The Iraqi security forces detained three ISIS operatives in Erbil (RUDAW, January 3, 2021).
- A counterterrorism force surrounded a house where two ISIS operatives were living, in Jabla, in the north of the province. The two men fired at the force. While fighters were breaking into the house, one of the operatives started shooting his family members. He killed 20 of them and then killed himself. The circumstances of the incident are now being investigated (Iraqi News Agency, December 31, 2021).
- The Iraqi security forces detained an ISIS operative who was in charge of disseminating ISIS propaganda material on social media. In his interrogation, he said that he had been recruited to the mission on Telegram in the past year (Twitter account of the Iraqi National Security Apparatus, December 30, 2021).
- The Iraqi security forces detained an ISIS operative in charge of suicide bombers and IEDs in the Baghdad region (Al-Sumaria, December 31, 2021).
- On December 30, 2021, an IED was activated against fighters of a militia supporting the Egyptian army in Abu Araj, south of Sheikh Zuweid. One fighter was killed and others were wounded (Telegram, January 4, 2022).
- On December 30, 2021, an Egyptian soldier was killed in Rafah (Shahed Sinaa al-Rasmia Facebook page, December 30, 2021). The circumstances in which he was killed were not specified. However, he may have been killed during an operation against ISIS.
- On December 29, 2021, the Sinai Tribal Union announced the death of one of its fighters while he was combing areas south of Sheikh Zuweid (Sinai Tribal Union Facebook page, December 29, 2021).
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 December 23 and December 29, 2021, indicates that in this period, ISIS carried out 30 attacks in its various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 38 in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out by ISIS’s Iraq Province (10). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Khorasan (i.e., Afghanistan) (5); West Africa (5); Syria (5); Central Africa (4); and East Asia (1). A total of 89 people were killed and wounded in the attacks, compared to 111 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Iraq Province (36). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Khorasan (17); West Africa (13); Central Africa (10); Syria (10); and East Asia (3) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021).
The infographic as it appeared in Al-Naba’ weekly
(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021)
ISIS attacks in recent months (according to ISIS data)
ISIS activity in Africa
- On January 3, 2022, a Nigerian army camp was attacked in Marte, about 40 km west of the Nigeria-Cameroon border. At the beginning of the attack, a suicide bomber codenamed Abu Suleiman al-Ansari detonated a car bomb among a group of Nigerian soldiers. After the car exploded, the camp was targeted by gunfire. Ten soldiers were killed or wounded. Part of the camp was set on fire and ISIS operatives seized weapons and military equipment.
- On December 31, 2021, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army convoy on the Dikwa-Marte highway. An armored vehicle was hit and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
- On December 30, 2021, a Christian village was attacked in Adamawa State, in eastern Nigeria. ISIS operatives left the scene after setting fire to a church, a house and two vehicles (Telegram, January 2, 2022).
Right: The village church going up in flames. Left: One of the houses in the village going up in flames (Telegram, January 2, 2022).
- On January 2, 2022, two Christian villages were attacked in the Macomia region, in northeastern Mozambique. Many houses were set on fire in an attack on the village of Mabada. Mozambican soldiers who were in the village fled. Three villagers were killed in an attack against the village of Nofa Zambizia.
- On January 4, 2022, an IED was activated against a Somalian army vehicle in the Mogadishu region. Three soldiers were killed or wounded.
- According to a report on Al-Hadath TV, 30 Lebanese recently joined ISIS, left Lebanon and traveled to Syria to fight in its ranks. They reportedly joined in view of the dire economic situation in Lebanon and the money that was promised to them. According to the report, they were recruited by groups on Telegram (Al-Hadath, December 30, 2021).
- Turkish security forces have detained 30 suspected ISIS operatives, 23 of them in Istanbul. Most of the detainees are foreign nationals (Asharq Al-Awsat, December 31, 2021).
- According to a report in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly, on December 27, 2021, ISIS operatives exchanged fire with a Philippine army reconnaissance force in Afik, in the Cotabato region, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. According to ISIS, several soldiers were wounded (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021).
The report on the attack (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021)
The battle for hearts and minds
- The lead article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to ISIS’s attitude to Christianity. The author points out that Jesus was a prophet and was sent by God, but the Christians of today are infidels because they turned him into a god and celebrate the “birth of God the Messiah” as they fill the world with immorality, prostitution and devilish rituals. The author further notes that the meaning of the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity is polytheism. Muslims who celebrate the Christian new year are also polytheists, as are clerics who authorized them to celebrate this event.
- The author stresses that the Christians of today are Islam’s worst enemies; this is reflected in the Crusader Coalition (led by the United States) that is fighting against ISIS. This is why Muslims must treat them with hostility, fight them and turn their holidays into mourning events. The Islamic State operates according to the principle of the oneness of Allah, which is the correct way and not the way of Judaism, Christianity and nationalism. He calls on Muslims to prepare for great battles leading up to the Judgment Day by continuing to carry out jihad and adhering to the Quran and Islamic tradition (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021).
Lead article, as it appeared in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly
(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021)
ISIS’s leadership is encouraging its operatives to carry out attacks in the wintertime
- Another article in this week’s issue, entitled “Obedience and Remembrance” (Ta’ah wa-Dhikra), includes an infographic detailing the commandments in Islam that are characteristic of wintertime. The commandments mentioned include praying for rain and assisting to the poor, displaced persons, prisoners and the needy. The article also states that the reward that believers receive for jihad and for defending the positions of jihad fighters (ribat) during the wintertime is particularly high, due to the fact that they are facing extreme weather conditions (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021).
Encouraging terrorist activity in the wintertime
(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, December 30, 2021)
 Mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility posted on Telegram ↑
 Mainly according to ISIS's claims of responsibility posted on Telegram