Spotlight on Global Jihad (July 29 – August 4, 2021)

Iraqi police vehicle being blown up (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

Iraqi police vehicle being blown up (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

Rocket being fired at the Baiji refinery (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Rocket being fired at the Baiji refinery (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Rocket being fired at the Baiji refinery (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Rocket being fired at the Baiji refinery (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Three of the Iraqi army vehicles going up in flames (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

Three of the Iraqi army vehicles going up in flames (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

One of the tunnels which were found and destroyed by the Egyptian security forces (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)

One of the tunnels which were found and destroyed by the Egyptian security forces (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)

The policeman who was abducted in the Kunduz area just before being executed (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

The policeman who was abducted in the Kunduz area just before being executed (Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Documentation of the attack on the convoy (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

Documentation of the attack on the convoy (Telegram, August 2, 2021)

Main events of the past week
  • Syria: There was a decrease in ISIS’s activity this week. In the Idlib region, in the rebel enclave, exchanges of artillery fire continued between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. Russia provided air support. Following the pullback of the US forces from Syria and Iraq, a senior official in the Biden administration, who asked to remain anonymous, said that about 900 US troops would remain in Syria to continue supporting and advising the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are fighting against ISIS.
  • Iraq: This week, there was a decrease in ISIS’S activity in Iraq as well. In the Salah al-Din and Diyala provinces, where ISIS’s activity was concentrated this week, several attacks were carried out against the Iraqi security forces and the organizations supporting them. Despite the pullback of US forces from Iraq, the US Ambassador to Iraq announced that the United States would continue to assist Iraq, as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, until its defeat. According to him, assistance to the Iraqi army is essential not only for Iraq but also for the United States, because it prevents the resurgence of ISIS. According to Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, the Iraqi security forces need further support in order to improve both their capabilities and the equipment to be used in the war against ISIS.
  • Sinai: A major event this week was an attack on an army base near Al-Joura in the Sheikh Zuweid region in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Seven soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. The Egyptian security forces released a video summing up their counterterrorism activity against ISIS over the past few months. According to the video, many ISIS operatives were killed by the security forces and large quantities of weapons were seized. In addition, a large number of tunnels were located and destroyed.
  • Africa: This week, there was a decrease in the volume of ISIS’s activity in Africa. Most of the attacks targeted camps and convoys of the local security forces. In the Congo, ISIS operatives ambushed a commercial convoy of Christian civilians. One of them was killed and six vehicles went up in flames.
  • Afghanistan: Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu expressed concern over the pullback of the US forces from the region. He said that due to the hasty pullback, the security situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and ISIS and the Taliban were gaining in strength. ISIS’s activity this week focused mainly on assassination attempts against members of the security forces and civilians cooperating with them. On August 2, 2021, an IED was activated against a bus carrying Shiite civilians. Fourteen of the bus passengers were killed or wounded.
  • Propaganda: The feature article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly is dedicated this week to events in Tunisia. According to the author, the Muslim Brotherhood movement, represented by the Ennahda party, is now paying the price of compromising with the concept of democracy. The author deduces that the only way possible is the one proposed by ISIS, based on embracing jihad and sharia.
 The Syrian arena
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
American presence in Syria
  • A senior official in the Biden administration, who asked to remain anonymous, said that about 900 US troops, including Special Forces of the US military, would remain in Syria and continue supporting and advising the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting against ISIS. The senior official does not foresee any changes in the American presence in the region in the short term. A senior official in the US Department of Defense said that in practice, for over a year, no US troops had been accompanying the local forces in the fighting in Syria and Iraq, and that their objective is to strengthen the local forces to be able to fight against ISIS on their own (Politico, July 27, 2021).
The Idlib region
  • This week, the Syrian army and the forces supporting it continued to fire artillery at the rebel enclave in Idlib. Russian fighter jets carried out airstrikes (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, July 29, 2021).
Al-Raqqah region
  • On July 28, 2021, an SDF patrol was targeted by gunfire northeast of Al-Raqqah. One SDF fighter was killed and another was wounded (Telegram, July 28, 2021).
 The Iraqi arena
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Pullback of US troops from Iraq
  • According to US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Toller, in spite of the pullback of the US forces from Iraq, the United States will continue to assist Iraq until ISIS is defeated, as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. According to him, assistance to the Iraqi army is essential not only for Iraq but also for the United States because it prevents the resurgence of ISIS. He said that the United States can assist the Iraqi security forces in the fighting by providing intelligence (Iraqi News Agency; Sky News in Arabic, July 28, 2021).
  • According to Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, the international community is still assisting the Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIS. This is done, according to Khafaji, by air support, the provision of intelligence, training, and military equipment. Khafaji says that the Iraqi security forces are in need of the continued support in order to preserve their capabilities in fighting against ISIS (Iraqi News Agency, July 28, 2021).
  • According to Hamed al-Mussawi, MP of the Al-Fatah Alliance faction, during its forthcoming sessions, the Iraqi Parliament intends to set up a committee to follow up on the pullback of US forces from Iraq. A source close to the government said that setting up the committee was a condition set by several armed organizations in Iraq for stopping their activity (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, August 1, 2021).
Attacks by province[1]
Kirkuk Province
  • On August 2, 2021, a police post in the Riyad region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk, was targeted by gunfire. A policeman was killed. The post was damaged. That same day, another attack was carried out against a police post in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. Three policemen were killed and three others were wounded.
  • On August 1, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police convoy on the Kirkuk-Tikrit highway. The passengers of one of the vehicles were wounded. Another vehicle was targeted by gunfire and the passengers on board were wounded.
  • On July 29, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police armored vehicle near the Allas oilfield, about 40 km northeast of Tikrit. The passengers on board were wounded.
  • On July 31, 2021, an IED was activated against a Popular Mobilization vehicle east of Tikrit. The passengers were killed or wounded.
  • On August 1, 2021, Tribal Mobilization forces were targeted by gunfire about 30 km southeast of Samarra. Two fighters were killed and five others were wounded. Six vehicles were put out of commission.
  • On July 31, 2021, a police post was targeted by gunfire in the Yathrib region, about 40 km southeast of Samarra. No casualties were reported.
  • On July 30, 2021, an attack was carried out against Tribal Mobilization and Iraqi police personnel paying a condolence call in the Yathrib region, about 40 km southeast of Samarra. A total of 15 people were killed and at least 20 were wounded. Four Tribal Mobilization vehicles and one Iraqi police vehicle were put out of commission by ISIS. Iraqi security sources reported seven dead and 17 wounded (Al-Sumaria, July 30, 2021).
  • On July 30, 2021, two Iraqi intelligence “spies,” one of them a woman, were targeted by gunfire in the Tarmiyah region, about 30 km north of Baghdad. According to ISIS, the two were shot because they had led to the arrest of ISIS operatives. Two days before, on July 28, 2021, a member of the Iraqi National Security Apparatus was targeted by gunfire in the region.
  • On July 30, 2021, several rockets were fired at the Baiji refinery. According to ISIS, direct hits were detected. According to Iraqi sources, an improvised rocket landed in the refinery area but did not cause any damage (Sahifat al-Iraq al-Electroniya, July 30, 2021).
Diyala Province
  • On July 30, 2021, an Iraqi army camp was targeted by gunfire north of Jalula, about 80 km northeast of Baqubah. Four soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. ISIS operatives set fire to the camp area and to several vehicles.
  • On July 27, 2021, an Iraqi police post in Nahr al-Imam, in the Al-Miqdadiya region, was targeted by gunfire. One policeman was killed. That same day, another post was targeted by gunfire nearby. Another policeman was killed.
  • On July 26, 2021, an Iraqi army camp was targeted by gunfire in the village of Al-Lahib in the Al-Miqdadiya region. One soldier was killed and two others were wounded.
  • On July 19, 2021, ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly reported that ISIS operatives had set fire to agricultural land belonging to a Tribal Mobilization fighter in the Madaen region, about 15 km southeast of Baghdad. This was carried out as part of ISIS’s “economic war” (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021).
The land which was set on fire (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)
The land which was set on fire (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)
The Sinai Peninsula
Counterterrorism activity by the Egyptian security forces

On August 1, 2021, the General Command of the Egyptian security forces released a video documenting the forces’ activity against terrorist operatives in the Sinai Peninsula in recent months. According to the video, the Egyptian army has killed 89 ISIS operatives, found 73 automatic rifles, 140 firearm magazines and about 5,000 bullets, 34 cellular phones, a quadcopter equipped with a camera, night vision goggles, and a large sum of cash (hundreds of Egyptian banknotes). In addition, 404 IEDs as well as four explosive belts were found and neutralized. The security forces seized 59 motorcycles used by terrorist operatives and 52 other vehicles. During their activity, the forces destroyed 31 tunnels used by terrorist operatives to infiltrate the Sinai Peninsula (possibly, on the Gaza border). The forces also reported that they had destroyed about 200 vehicles, some of them equipped with weapons and ammunition, while terrorist operatives were trying to infiltrate Egypt from the west and south (this may refer to infiltrations from Libya and Sudan). Eight Egyptian soldiers were reportedly killed and wounded in this activity (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021).

 Weapons seized (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)  Bodies of ISIS operatives alongside equipment and weapons found in their possession.
Right: Bodies of ISIS operatives alongside equipment and weapons found in their possession. Left: Weapons seized (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)
Motorcycles found and destroyed (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)    Quadcopter seized during the operational activity.
Right: Quadcopter seized during the operational activity. Left: Motorcycles found and destroyed (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)
One of the tunnels which were found and destroyed by the Egyptian security forces (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)
One of the tunnels which were found and destroyed by the Egyptian security forces (Facebook page of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, August 1, 2021)
  • According to data released by the Egyptian Human Rights Front, during the first half of 2021, ISIS’s Sinai Province killed about 50 members of the Egyptian security forces, some of them tribespeople supporting the Egyptian forces. The security forces killed about 30 ISIS operatives, 25 of them during January 2021 (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, August 1, 2021).
ISIS’s activity
  • The main incident this week was an attack against an army base near Al-Joura, in the Sheikh Zuweid region in northern Sinai. Six soldiers, including an officer, were killed in the exchange of fire, and several others were wounded. Three ISIS operatives were killed (Shahed Sinaa, July 31, 2021). Subsequently, it was reported that the Egyptian army had sustained seven fatalities (masaaraby.com, August 1, 2021). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on the following day. According to ISIS’s statement, its operatives attacked an Egyptian army camp near Al-Joura. Six soldiers were killed, including an officer, and several others were wounded. During the incident, an IED was activated against an M60 tank attempting to advance, causing damage to the tank and preventing it from reaching the scene (Telegram, August 1, 2021).
  • An IED exploded when Egyptian Electricity Company technicians were carrying out repairmen work in the Abu al-Dahab region. Six people were wounded (Shahed Sinaa, August 1, 2021). Subsequently, it was reported that one of the technicians had died (Shahed Sinaa Facebook page, August 2, 2021).
  • On August 1, 2021, an IED which exploded in the Rafah new city region destroyed an Egyptian army bulldozer. The driver was wounded (Shahed Sinaa, August 2, 2021).
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
  • Data from an infographic published by ISIS, summing up its activity around the world between July 22 and July 28, 2021, shows that during this period, ISIS carried out 33 attacks in the various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 61 attacks in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out in Iraq (14). Attacks carried out in ISIS’s other provinces: Central Africa (8); West Africa (6); Syria (3); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (2) (ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021).
  • A total of 88 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 206 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Central Africa Province (32). The other casualties were in the following provinces: West Africa (29); Iraq (17); Khorasan, i.e. Afghanistan (6); Syria (4) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021).
  • According to the infographic, there has been a significant decrease in ISIS’s activity around the world. The Iraq Province continues to lead in the number of attacks, but Africa sustains the highest number of casualties. However, there is a possibility that the decrease in the reported attacks stems from communications problems between ISIS’s various provinces.

The infographic as it appeared on ISIS’s Al-Naba' weekly (Al-Naba' weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)
The infographic as it appeared on ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly
(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Africa

  • This week, there was a relative decrease in the number of attacks carried out by ISIS operatives. Most of the attacks were carried out against the local security forces. Below are details of the events according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility.
Nigeria
  • A Nigerian army convoy was ambushed near Marino, to the west of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. At least three soldiers were killed and several others were wounded. An aid force that arrived on the scene was targeted by gunfire. Several soldiers were killed or wounded.
Cameroon
  • About a week late, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack carried out by its operatives against a Cameroonian army camp in Zigi, in the Maroua region, in the north of the country, about 80 km from the Cameroon-Nigeria border. Seven soldiers were killed in the attack and several others were wounded. The camp was set on fire (Telegram, August 1, 2021).
Documentation of the attack by ISIS operatives against the army camp. Left: Ammunition that was seized (Telegram, August 3, 2021)    Documentation of the attack by ISIS operatives against the army camp. Left: Ammunition that was seized (Telegram, August 3, 2021)
Documentation of the attack by ISIS operatives against the army camp. Left: Ammunition that was seized (Telegram, August 3, 2021)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • On July 30, 2021, an attack was carried out against a Congolese army camp in the Rwenzori region, not far from the Congo-Uganda border. Several soldiers were killed or wounded in the exchange of fire (Reuters, July 31, 2021).
  • On July 29, 2021, a commercial convoy of Christian civilians was ambushed on the Ituri-Beni highway, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. One man was killed. Six vehicles went up in flames. A Congolese army patrol that arrived at the scene was targeted by gunfire and forced to withdraw (Telegram, July 30, 2021).
Documentation of the attack on the convoy (Telegram, August 2, 2021)    Documentation of the attack on the convoy (Telegram, August 2, 2021)
Documentation of the attack on the convoy (Telegram, August 2, 2021)
Somalia
  • On July 30, 2021, at least three people were killed and six others wounded in an IED explosion on a bus carrying a football team in Kismayo, in southern Somalia. At present, no organization has issued a claim of responsibility for the attack. It is believed to have been carried out by the local Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab organization (Reuters, July 30, 2021).
Mozambique
  • A Mozambican army patrol was targeted by gunfire in Mandefa (the village was not located; it is apparently situated in the Cabo Delgado Province, in northeastern Mozambique). One soldier was killed in the exchange of fire and several others were wounded, including an officer.

Asia[2]

Afghanistan
  • During a visit to Tajikistan, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu noted that they were concerned about the resurgence of ISIS in northern Afghanistan. Minister Shoygu noted that recently, following the pullback of American forces, which he referred to as hasty, the security situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating. In this context, the movement of ISIS operatives from Syria, Libya and several other countries into Afghanistan has been identified, and the Taliban continues its expansion to other provinces in the country. Russian sources noted that in view of this situation, the Russian government decided to reinforce its base in Tajikistan and help train local soldiers, mainly in counterterrorism skills. It should be noted that earlier this month, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the member states of the Tashkent Alliance: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (the latter two share a border with Afghanistan) to increase their security against possible terrorist attacks within their borders (Haaretz Israeli daily; Reuters, July 28, 2021) .
  • On August 2, 2021, an IED was activated against a bus carrying Shiite civilians in the Shahrak Haji Abbas region in western Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Iran border. Fourteen people on board the bus were killed or wounded.
  • On August 2, 2021, a member of the Nangarhar District Council was targeted by gunfire in Jalalabad. He was killed.
  • On August 1, 2021, a Taliban operative was targeted by gunfire in Jalalabad.He was killed.
  • On July 31, 2021, in two separate incidents, an Afghan commander and Afghan intelligence operative were targeted by gunfire in Jalalabad (Telegram, August 1, 2021). Both of them were killed. Another intelligence operative was wounded.
  • On July 28, 2021, an Afghan policeman was abducted in the Kunduz region, near the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border. He was subsequently shot and killed.
The policeman who was abducted in the Kunduz area just before being executed (Telegram, July 30, 2021)
The policeman who was abducted in the Kunduz area just before being executed
(Telegram, July 30, 2021)

Europe

Greece
  • The Greek counterterrorism unit arrested a 28-year-old Moroccan citizen in Thessaloniki. The young man was in Greece illegally and an international arrest warrant was issued against him back in March 2021. According to a security source in Morocco, the suspect’s arrest was the result of coordination and exchange of intelligence between the Moroccan security services and their counterparts in Greece, Italy, Britain and the United States. The suspect, codenamed Abu Muhammad al-Fateh, joined ISIS in Syria in 2014 and held a number of positions in its operational unit in Deir ez-Zor and in the morality police force (Al-hisba). He also appears in a videotape documenting a Syrian fighter being executed and his body being defiled. The operative managed to escape from Syria to Europe via Greece, using a false identity and forged documents. According to sources in Morocco, his extradition process to Morocco is currently underway (greekcitytimes.com, July 28, 2021; The Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2021; The Arab Weekly, July 29, 2021).
Russia
  • The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has uncovered a squad of ISIS operatives in the southern Russian city of Tyumen. The squad operatives are citizens of one of the Central Asian republics. The operatives planned to carry out attacks in crowded places in Russia, under the guidance of ISIS operatives outside Russia. Two of the squad operatives were killed in the exchange of fire between the Russian security forces and the operatives. An unspecified number of operatives apparently fled. Searches at the site where they were staying revealed an IED ready for use, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment and religious literature (TASS News Agency, July 29, 2021).
  • A military court in Moscow has sentenced a 23-year-old resident of Moscow to three years in prison for attempting to recruit Russian Muslims to fight in the ranks of ISIS in Syria (TASS News Agency, July 31, 2021).
The battle for hearts and minds
  • This week’s feature article in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was entitled: Tunisia and the Harvest of Democracy, and dealt with the instability in Tunisia (the riots in the country, which led to the ouster of the prime minister by the president and the suspension of parliament) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021).
  • The main claim in the article is that the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Tunisia, which is represented by the Ennahda party, is now paying the price for its compromise with the concept of democracy. According to the author, the greatest sinners against Allah are the supporters of democracy, since they do not accept the rule of Allah, which is enforced through Islamic law (sharia). According to him, the path of Muslim believers is based on jihad and sharia and not on democracy and conciliation, and ISIS embraces these values completely. He stresses that all attempts by the Arab Spring to rectify the situation were to no avail, apart from the way presented by ISIS, which is based on embracing jihad and sharia.
The article as it appeared in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)
The article as it appeared in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly
(Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, July 30, 2021)

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