Spotlight on Global Jihad (June 22-28, 2023)

Some of the ISIS operatives who were detained (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023)

Some of the ISIS operatives who were detained (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023)

Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)

Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)

Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)

Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)

Main events of the past week
  • This week, there was a decline in ISIS’s activity around the world. The organization’s activity focused on Africa.
  • Syria: Four policemen were killed in a shooting attack targeting a vehicle they were traveling in northwest of Daraa. It may have been an ISIS attack. A Syrian army brigadier general was ambushed and killed. Russian Air Force planes carried out extensive airstrikes against rebel targets in the rebel enclave of Idlib. Dozens of fatalities were reported.
  • Iraq: The Iraqi Army Spokesman noted that ISIS had lost 99 percent of its power in Iraq and is left with a limited number of sleeper cells with limited ability to operate in the country.
  • Africa:
    • Nigeria: ISIS continued its activity against the Nigerian army and Christian civilians in the northeast of the country.
    • Somalia: Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab detonated two car bombs against bases of the Somali army and the African Union troops. Seven soldiers were killed.
    • Kenya: Al-Shabaab operatives attacked civilians in villages in the southeast of the country, executing five men.
  • The battle for hearts and minds: The editorial of ISIS’s weekly Al-Naba deals with the importance of pilgrimage in Islam (Hajj) while criticizing the rulers of Saudi Arabia, “the infidel tyrants who rule this blessed land.” The author of the article calls on the residents of the Arabian Peninsula, especially the residents of Saudi Arabia, to “change the difficult situation” and raise funds for the organization.
The Syrian Arena[1]
Provinces of Syria (Free World Maps)
Provinces of Syria (Free World Maps)
Idlib area
  • Russian Air Force planes carried out extensive airstrikes against military targets in the rebel enclave in Idlib, especially on the outskirts of the enclave, in the area known as the de-escalation zone. Positions of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated HTS and other rebel factions were attacked. At the same time, opposition organizations fired artillery at Syrian army positions in the southern part of the enclave.
  • The Syrian Defense Ministry reported that it had bombed rebel headquarters and that dozens of operatives from among the rebel organizations were killed, including eight commanders. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that airstrikes carried out on June 24-26, 2023, had killed no less than 65 HTS operatives (Orient News, June 25, 2023; Telegram, June 24, 2023; SANA, June 25, 2023; Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 25, 2023; North Press, June 23, 2023; TASS, June 26, 2023). The airstrikes might have been intended to serve as a preliminary step towards extensive ground activity against the Idlib enclave.
ISIS’s activity
Deir ez-Zor al-Mayadeen region
  • On June 27, 2023, militants riding a motorcycle, apparently ISIS operatives, shot and killed a female fighter of the Kurdish internal security forces, the Asayish, on a road near the city of Al-Basira, about 15 km north of Al-Mayadeen (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 27, 2023).
  • On June 27, 2023, militants, apparently ISIS operatives riding a motorcycle, fired at a Syrian army soldier or fighter in the forces supporting the army in the city of Sbaikhan, about 22 km southeast of Al-Mayadeen. The soldier or fighter was killed (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 27, 2023).
  • On June 26, 2023, an attack was carried out against an SDF checkpoint in the town of Briha in the Al-Basira region. A fighter was killed, and another was wounded (Telegram, June 26, 2023).
  • On June 23, 2023, local residents found two bodies in the desert area of Al-Suwar, about 50 km northeast of Deir ez-Zor. One of the bodies was that of an ISIS commander of Iraqi origin, and the other of an ISIS operative. It was noted that the two were executed by ISIS due to internal disagreements. A note was found next to their bodies, which read, “It will be the fate of all those who will be in contact with them” (implying anyone who collaborates with the SDF forces or with the US-led Global Coalition) (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 23, 2023).
Al-Hasakah region
  • On June 22, 2023, shots were fired at an SDF vehicle near the Kafr al-Atalah Bridge, about 25 km south of Al-Hasakah. The passengers were wounded (Telegram, June 23, 2023).
Southern Syria
  • On June 25, 2023, gunmen fired at a vehicle carrying Syrian policemen in the city of Tafas, about 10 km northwest of Daraa. Four policemen were killed, and another was wounded. The policemen were reportedly on their way back after they finished securing testing centers in the city. So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, ISIS might have been behind it (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 25, 2023).
Senior Syrian army officer killed
  • On June 23, 2023, several sources reported that Brigadier General Yusuf Mansour Ismail was killed on June 23, 2023, by gunfire from an ambush set up in the desert area south of Deir ez-Zor. According to other sources, he was killed in an ambush set up in the village of Al-Shajar, in the Al-Ghab Plain, in the south of the rebel enclave in Idlib (Nabadh; Al-Askari; Baladi News, June 23, 2023). So far, it is unclear who was responsible for killing him.
Brigadier General Yusuf Mansour Ismail (Nabadh, June 23, 2023)
Brigadier General Yusuf Mansour Ismail (Nabadh, June 23, 2023)
Summary of ISIS’s activity in Syria
  • According to an infographic published by Al-Naba, ISIS’s weekly, summarizing ISIS’s activity in Syria on June 15-21, 2023, ISIS operatives carried out seven attacks against the SDF forces and the Syrian army in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor, Al-Hasakah, Al-Raqqah, and Hama. Eight people were killed and 11 wounded. Four of the attacks were carried out in areas controlled by the SDF forces, and three others were carried out in areas controlled by the Syrian army and the forces supporting it. This is an increase in ISIS’s activity in Syria (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023).
Summary of ISIS’s attacks during a week in Syria (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)
Summary of ISIS’s attacks during a week in Syria (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)
Counterterrorism
Deir ez-Zor Province
  • On June 21, 2023, an SDF force, with Global Coalition air support, operated against a hiding place of an ISIS terrorist squad in the Al-Kasar area, about 14 km north of Al-Mayadeen. Eight ISIS operatives, including an emir (commander), were detained. The squad operatives are accused of carrying out attacks and assassinations of SDF fighters. Weapons and communications equipment were found in the possession of the detainees (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 23, 2023).
Transfer of ISIS operative’s family to Denmark
  • On June 24, 2023, the Department of External Relations of the Autonomous Directorate of the SDF in northeastern Syria handed over to a Danish delegation a woman and two children of an ISIS operative who were held in the Roj camp, about 130 km northeast of Al-Hasakah. Their return was carried out after joint coordination between the sides (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 24, 2023).
Iraq
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

ISIS’s activity by province[2]

Diyala Province
  • On June 20, 2023, shots were fired at an Iraqi police compound in the village of Zaghniya al-Saghira, about 13 km north of Baqubah. Shots were also fired at an aid force arriving at the scene. A member of the Iraqi security forces was wounded (Telegram, June 21, 2023).
Kirkuk Province
  • On June 17, 2023, shots and RPG rockets were fired at an Iraqi army compound in the village of Al-Tamayima, about 35 km southwest of Kirkuk. One soldier was wounded. A thermal camera was destroyed (Telegram, June 23, 2023).
Salah al-Din Province
  • On June 25, 2023, shots were fired at an Iraqi police compound north of Samarra, about 100 km northwest of Baghdad. One policeman was killed. A thermal camera was destroyed (Telegram, June 27, 2023).
  • On June 25, 2023, shots were fired at an Iraqi police post about 15 km southeast of Tikrit. One policeman was killed, and two others were wounded (Zagros TV, June 25, 2023).
Al-Anbar Province
  • On June 25, 2023, shots were fired at an Iraqi army compound in the village of Al-Dara’ama, east of Rutba, in western Iraq. One soldier was wounded, and the compound sustained damage (Telegram, June 26, 2023).

Counterterrorism

Iraqi Army: ISIS has lost 99 percent of its power
  • On June 23, 2023, Iraqi Army Spokesman Major General Yahya Rasool announced that ISIS had lost 99% of its power in Iraq. According to him, the organization has no power or ability left to carry out large-scale attacks, and its existence is now based on small terrorist cells, numbering between two and six operatives who are unable to take over any target in Iraq. He also noted that the organization’s operatives are unable to move freely, and Iraq is not a safe place for them, so they are forced to find hiding places deep in the desert, in wadis or mountain ridges. Rasool noted that the Iraqi army is working on transferring control of city centers to the Interior Ministry, with the ultimate goal of transferring the issue of internal security in its entirety to the Ministry of the Interior in all areas. He added that the objective of the military forces is to deploy outside the cities, guard the country’s borders, and close any security breach in rural or remote areas. He described the security situation in the country as very good and clarified that stability, control, and security had been achieved in all areas (Al-Arabiya, June 23, 2023).
Al-Anbar, Salah al-Din, and Nineveh provinces
  • On June 22, 2023, the Iraqi security forces detained 15 wanted ISIS operatives in the provinces of Al-Anbar, Salah al-Din, and Nineveh (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023).
Some of the ISIS operatives who were detained (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023)
Some of the ISIS operatives who were detained (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023)
Kirkuk Province
  • An Iraqi army force and the Iraqi intelligence agency located three ISIS operatives in the Türkelan area, about 5 km southwest of Kirkuk. Another Iraqi army force arrived at the scene, surrounded them, and exchanged fire with them. The three operatives wearing explosive belts were killed by the detonation of the explosive belts. A soldier was also killed, and an officer was wounded (Iraqi News Agency, June 25, 2023).
  • On June 24, 2023, Iraqi Air Force planes attacked an ISIS squad in the Al-Rashad area, about 35 km southwest of Kirkuk. A ground force arriving at the scene found three bodies, one of which was wearing an explosive belt. Weapons and equipment were found at the scene (Iraqi News Agency, June 24, 2023).
  • On June 22, 2023, a joint force of Iraqi Military Intelligence and Popular Mobilization operated against ISIS in Kirkuk. Three ISIS commanders were detained. It was noted that the three recently attacked Iraqi army positions in the Kirkuk Province, killing three intelligence officers and wounding six soldiers (Iraqi News Agency, June 22, 2023).
The three ISIS commanders detained in Kirkuk (SecMedCell Facebook page, June 22, 2023)
The three ISIS commanders detained in Kirkuk (SecMedCell Facebook page, June 22, 2023)
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
  • According to an infographic published by ISIS’s weekly Al-Naba, summarizing ISIS’s activity on June 15-21, 2023, ISIS operatives carried out 17 attacks in the various provinces during this period (compared with 20 in the previous week). The highest number of attacks was carried out by the Syria Province (7). Attacks carried out in the other provinces: Iraq (6); West Africa (3); and East Asia (1). A total of 52 people were killed and wounded in the attacks, compared with 150 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the Syria Province (19). In the rest of the provinces: West Africa (16); Iraq (11); and East Asia (6) (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023). Noteworthy this time was the activity of ISIS’s Syria Province, which led in the number of attacks and casualties among all ISIS’s provinces during the reporting period. At the same time, this indicates a significant decline in the scope of ISIS’s activity in Africa during the week surveyed.
Summary of ISIS attacks (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)
Summary of ISIS attacks (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)
Attacks by week (according to ISIS’s figures)

Attacks by week (according to ISIS’s figures)

Africa

Nigeria
ISIS’s activity
  • ISIS’s activity against the Nigerian army and Christian civilians in the northeast of the country:
    • On June 24, 2023, there was an exchange of fire with a Nigerian army patrol near the town of Dikwa, about 80 km northeast of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. Two soldiers were killed. An assault rifle and three motorcycles were seized (Telegram, June 26, 2023).
    • On June 24, 2023, an attack was carried out against the Christian village of Dili, about 130 km south of Maiduguri. There were exchanges of fire with a Nigerian army force in the village. A soldier was killed, and the rest fled (Telegram, June 25, 2023).
    • On June 22, 2023, farmers working their fields in the Mafa area, about 40 km northeast of Maiduguri, were attacked. At least eight farmers were murdered, and ten others were kidnapped. The bodies of the farmers were found the next day by local militiamen and residents of the area (Zagazola; VOA, June 23, 2023).
    • On June 22, 2023, an attack was carried out against a Nigerian army checkpoint in the town of Pulka, about 10 km northwest of the Nigeria-Cameroon border. The soldiers at the checkpoint fled. Some of the soldiers’ equipment was taken (Telegram, June 23, 2023).
    • On June 22, 2023, grenades were fired at a Nigerian army camp in the town of Wajiroko, about 100 km southwest of Maiduguri. No casualties or damage were reported (Telegram, June 23, 2023).
    • On June 21, 2023, an IED was activated against a Nigerian army patrol between the towns of Katavila and Mararaba in Adamawa State, in the northeast of the country, about 10 km east of the border with Cameroon. The passengers were killed or wounded (Telegram, June 22, 2023).
ISIS commander dies of snakebite
  • On June 20, 2023, an ISIS commander named Kiriku was bitten by a snake at an ISIS hiding place at Agikur Mosque in the Damboa area, about 80 km southwest of Maiduguri. Three days later, he died because the group’s operatives did not have access to medical care. Kiriku was reportedly responsible for attacks and ambushes against Nigerian security forces on the Maiduguri-Damboa Road (Zagazola, June 24, 2023).
Clashes between ISIS and Boko Haram
  • On June 23, 2023, several Boko Haram operatives on motorcycles ambushed two vehicles carrying operatives of ISIS’s West Africa Province on the Gajiganna-Gajiram Road, north of Maiduguri. There were exchanges of fire between the sides. Several Boko Haram operatives were killed. Assault rifles and motorcycles were seized (Zagazola, June 24, 2023).
Counterterrorism
  • On June 22, 2023, Nigerian Army Special Forces, in collaboration with local forces, operated against ISIS in the Banki area, about 90 km southeast of Maiduguri. Six ISIS operatives were killed (Zagazola, June 23, 2023).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
ISIS’s activity
  • On June 27, 2023, shots were fired from an ambush at a Congolese army patrol in the village of Kabasiwa, in the Beni region, about 50 km west of the border with Uganda. Four soldiers were killed. Two assault rifles were seized (Telegram, June 27, 2023).
Somalia
  • On June 21, 2023, the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS) forces in Somalia announced that they had begun reducing the number of forces stationed in the country. This is carried out following the UN resolution, according to which they are obligated to withdraw 2,000 troops from the country by the end of June 2023 (The EastAfrican, June 21, 2023).
Al-Shabaab activity
  • On June 26, 2023, Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab operatives in the city of Fahfahdun, southwestern Somalia, executed five “spies” accused of activity on behalf of US and Somali intelligence (TRACTerrorism, June 28, 2023).
  • On June 21, 2023, Al-Shabaab operatives attempted to detonate two car bombs in the town of Bardere, about 300 km west of Mogadishu (Somalia News Agency; Garowe Online; All Africa, June 21, 2023):
  • The target of one car was a Somali army recruitment base. Somali soldiers reportedly fired at the car bomb and caused it to be detonated before it reached the recruitment base. Two soldiers were killed.
  • The second car was used against a nearby Ethiopian army base that is part of the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS). After the car exploded, there was an exchange of fire between the sides. Five soldiers were killed, and several others were wounded.
Kenya
Al-Shabaab activity
  • On the evening of June 24, 2023, Al-Shabaab operatives attacked civilians in the villages of Juhudi and Salama in southeastern Kenya, about 140 km southwest of the Kenya-Somalia border. The operatives locked several women in their homes and led four men and a schoolboy outside the houses, where they were executed (France 24, June 25, 2023).

Asia

Pakistan
ISIS’s activity
  • Two shooting incidents at Sikh civilians were carried out in the city of Peshawar, about 30 km east of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (Telegram, June 23 and 24, 2023):
    • On June 24, 2023, shots were fired in the Yakatot area. The civilian was killed
    • On June 23, 2023, shots were fired in the Rashid Garhi area. The civilian was wounded.
    • On June 22, 2023, shots were fired at a vehicle of a senior activist of the Pakistan Clerics Association Party (a Pakistani Islamic party) in the village of Anait, in the Bajaur region, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The activist was killed, and another person was wounded (Telegram, June 23, 2023).

Turkey

Counterterrorism
  • On June 23, 2023, a force of the Counterterrorism Division of the Istanbul Security Directorate detained a man suspected of being an ISIS operative who was planning to carry out terrorist activity in Turkey. Two pistols, two magazines, equipment for making IEDs, digital equipment, and folders linked to ISIS were found in the suspect’s apartment (Anatolia News Agency, June 23, 2023).
  • After surveillance in Istanbul, on June 22, 2023, counterterrorism unit teams detained Shamil Hukumatov, codenamed Abu Miskin, an operative in ISIS’s Khorasan Province. An arrest warrant was issued for Hukumatov in Tajikistan for his activity in ISIS, and he was located in an apartment in Istanbul. He was accused of helping recruit new operatives for the organization, financing their activity, and sending them to conflict zones in Syria. He was also accused of financing new terrorist organizations in Syria. Documents containing information about ISIS were found in his apartment (Anatolia News Agency, June 22, 2023).

Europe

Germany
  • A court in the city of Koblenz, Germany, sentenced a 37-year-old German woman who operated in the ranks of ISIS in Iraq to nine years and three months in prison. She was convicted of belonging to a foreign terrorist organization, committing crimes against humanity, and aiding and abetting genocide. The woman and her husband joined ISIS and traveled in December 2014 from Germany to Syria and from there to Mosul, Iraq. The woman was a housewife, while her husband worked as a doctor and treated wounded ISIS operatives in a hospital in Mosul. The two established a center in Mosul to absorb single women who joined ISIS. They provided them with accommodation and helped them get married or divorced before a Sharia court. In addition, according to the prosecution, the two stored large quantities of explosives and weapons in their home. They also enslaved, for three years, a Yazidi girl, who served as a slave for them. The woman was arrested upon entering Germany on March 31, 2022, and charged on January 11, 2023 (Sky News, January 11, 2023; DW, June 21, 2023).
The battle for hearts and minds
ISIS calls on its operatives and supporters to raise funds for the organization
  • The editorial of Al-Naba, ISIS’s weekly, was published this week under the title “The Hajj [the commandment of pilgrimage to Mecca] and the Oneness of Allah [Tawhid].” It deals with the importance of the commandment of pilgrimage in Islam, stressing that it must be done out of full faith in Allah and resentment towards the “infidels” (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023).
  • The writer criticizes “the infidel tyrants” ruling Saudi Arabia, whom he describes as loyal to Jews and Christians. Furthermore, they renew their ties with Shiite Iran. He notes that the Saudi government killed or imprisoned clerics loyal to Islam, while installing clerics on its behalf who did not act in favor of Islam (calling them “preachers of evil”).
  • At the end of the article, the author addresses the residents of the Arabian Peninsula, especially the residents of Saudi Arabia, asking them to “change the difficult situation” in their countries, “prepare for this purpose” (i.e., prepare for “jihad”), and provide financial assistance to this cause (implicitly, to raise funds for ISIS). The writer notes that among the organization’s “jihad fighters” in the various arenas, there are still many who come from the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, who are loyal to the Islamic faith and jihad and they should help change “the current situation,” make preparations (implicitly, organize jihad forces) for this purpose, and invest their own funds, “since those who invested funds before the jihad have a higher status in Islam than those who invest afterwards,” and therefore deserve the highest reward in paradise[3].

The article “Hajj [the commandment of pilgrimage to Mecca] and the Oneness of Allah [Tawhid]” (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)
The article “Hajj [the commandment of pilgrimage to Mecca] and the Oneness of Allah [Tawhid]” (Al-Naba weekly, Telegram, June 22, 2023)

ISIS’s Al-Sham Province threatens the lives of “spies” against ISIS
  • On June 25, 2023, ISIS’s Al-Sham Province released a video titled “The Creators of the Ethos” (Sunna’ al-Malahim), which is about 17 minutes long, in which ISIS threatens to kill anyone who “spies” against the organization. The video includes documentation of ISIS operatives’ attacks against the Kurdish SDF forces and the forces of the Syrian regime. It documents the execution of “spies” against ISIS, threatening that anyone who spied against the organization will suffer the same fate (Telegram, June 25, 2023).
Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)     Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)
Documentation of an attack against the Kurdish SDF forces in Al-Basira, in eastern Syria, and an explosion in a Syrian army headquarters in the Daraa region (Telegram, June 25, 2023)

[1] According to ISIS’s claims of responsibility and the global media.
[2] According to ISIS’s claims of responsibility and the global media.
[3] A paraphrase of what is said in the Quran, Surat al-Hadid, verse 10. The verse refers to those who donated their money to Islam before the conquest of Mecca in early Islam.