Spotlight on Global Jihad (June 24-30, 2021)

ISIS operatives preparing to set out for the attack.

ISIS operatives preparing to set out for the attack.

Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)

Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)

Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)

Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)

ISIS operatives following the convoy.

ISIS operatives following the convoy.

The IEDs being activated (Telegram, June 27, 2021)

The IEDs being activated (Telegram, June 27, 2021)

Main events of the past week
  • Syria: The exchanges of artillery fire between the Syrian army and the rebel forces in the Idlib enclave continued this week. In the desert region (Al-Badia): ISIS operatives continued to attack the Syrian army, which was supported by the Russian air force, which attacked ISIS targets. In the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region: Attacks against the SDF forces continued. In Al-Basira, north of Al-Mayadeen, SDF forces detained 22 suspected ISIS operatives and collaborators. The forces also located weapons belonging to ISIS.
  • Iraq: ISIS continued to attack targets of the Iraqi security forces. The most noteworthy incident of the week was a combined attack against an outpost of the security forces in which six policemen and soldiers were killed. In an interview, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Spokesman Saleh al-No’man detailed the characteristics of ISIS’s activity in Iraq at present compared to its activity during the period when it controlled large parts of the country. According to him, ISIS now operates as a guerrilla organization through small units, usually numbering between 4-7 operatives, operating out of hiding places, some of which are forested areas.
  • Sinai: The province’s activity against the Egyptian security forces was relatively limited this week. In one noteworthy attack, two soldiers were killed by an IED south of Bir al-Abd, in northern Sinai.
  • In Africa, the relative downtrend in ISIS’s activity continues. ISIS’s West Africa Province released a video documenting operatives, apparently from Boko Haram, announcing that they have joined ISIS and pledging allegiance to the its leader. At the same time, ISIS’s terrorist activity in Africa continued, mainly against the security forces. One noteworthy incident was an attack carried out against the Nigerian army base in Bula Yobe, in which eight soldiers were killed. In Mali, 13 soldiers (12 Germans and one Belgian) from the international peacekeeping forces were wounded in a car bomb blast in the north of the country.
  • Afghanistan: ISIS’s activity continued, mainly against Afghan government targets. One noteworthy incident this week was an attack on economic targets (an oil tanker and a high-voltage pylon) as part of what ISIS calls its economic war.
  • A 24-year-old Somali immigrant stabbed three women to death and seriously wounded six other people in the southern German city of Würzburg. The attack may have been inspired by ISIS since, according to reports, he was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” and also spoke about Jihad while he was in the hospital. The Munich public prosecutor’s office announced that this was an Islamic terrorist attack.
The Syrian arena

Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)
Syrian governorates (freeworldmaps.net)

The Idlib region
  • This week, exchanges of fire continued between the Syrian army and the rebels in the enclave in the Idlib region (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 27, 2021).
The desert region (Al-Badia)
  • ISIS continues its attacks against the Syrian army in the desert region, mainly by planting IEDs against vehicles. Following are several incidents according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
    • On June 27, 2021, an IED was activated against a Syrian army convoy in the Al-Sukhnah Desert, about 120 km southwest of Deir ez-Zor. No casualties were reported. A truck was destroyed.
    • On June 24, 2021, an IED was activated against a Syrian army truck east of Salamiyah, about 30 km southeast of Hama. Three soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded (Telegram, June 25, 2021).
    • On June 23, 2021, two soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in an attack carried out by gunmen, apparently ISIS operatives, near Palmyra (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 24, 2021).
  • At the same time, Russian fighter jets continued to attack ISIS targets in the region. On June 24, 2021, Russian fighter jets carried out 20 airstrikes against ISIS targets in the Al-Sukhnah region (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, June 24, 2021).
Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region
  • SDF forces who were combing the Al-Basira region, about 15 km north of Al-Mayadeen, detained 22 suspected ISIS operatives and collaborators. They also found weapons and IEDs belonging to ISIS (SDF Press, June 25, 2021).
 IEDs found (SDF Press, June 25, 2021)     Some of ISIS’s weapons found in the village of Al-Basira.
Right: Some of ISIS’s weapons found in the village of Al-Basira. Left: IEDs found
(SDF Press, June 25, 2021)
  • At the same time, ISIS attacks against the SDF forces continued: [1]
    • On June 27, 2021, gunmen broke into the home of an SDF commander in the village of Hassan, about 10 km south of Deir ez-Zor. The commander was an investigator in the Kisra Prison (about 30 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor), where ISIS operatives are apparently held. Two days before, an SDF vehicle was targeted by gunfire in the Kisra region. Four SDF soldiers were killed and five others were wounded.
    • On June 23, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF truck about 20 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor. Two of the passengers were wounded.
    • On June 23, 2021, an SDF intelligence operative was ambushed and abducted in Suweidan, about 20 km southeast of Al-Mayadeen. He was killed.
Al-Hasakah region
  • On June 26, 2021, an SDF intelligence operative was targeted by gunfire in the Hadadiya region, about 40 km south of Al-Hasakah. He was killed.
Al-Raqqah region
  • On June 29, 2021, five oil tankers of the Al-Qaterji company (which supplies oil to the Syrian regime) were targeted by gunfire east of Al-Raqqah. Some of the tanker drivers were wounded and the all tankers were put out of commission.
  • On June 28, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle east of Al-Raqqah. Two SDF fighters who were on board the vehicle were wounded.
 The Iraqi arena
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
  • This week as well, ISIS operated in the various provinces of Iraq, but a significant decrease is evident in the number of attacks. The Iraqi security forces continued their counterterrorism measures against ISIS. Following are the incidents by province, mainly based on ISIS’s claims of responsibility[2]:
Kirkuk Province
  • On June 26, 2021, an Iraqi police camp was targeted by gunfire in the Riyad region, about 50 km southwest of Kirkuk. Two policemen were killed and another was wounded. An IED was activated against the rescue force arriving on the scene. Two other policemen were wounded.
  • On June 26, 2021, an IED was activated against a maintenance vehicle of the Iraqi electricity company while it was on its way to repair high-voltage pylons which were damaged (apparently, by ISIS) in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. The vehicle was put out of commission.
  • On June 24, 2021, a combined attack was carried out against an outpost of the Iraqi security forces in the Daquq area, in the southern region of Kirkuk. Six soldiers and policemen were killed, and several others were wounded. At first, during the night, the operatives attacked soldiers who manned the outpost, killing one of them and wounding another. An IEDs was activated against a rescue force arriving on the scene, and it was also targeted by gunfire. Five of the rescue force members were killed and several others were wounded.
The operatives carrying out the attack (Telegram, June 25, 2021)    ISIS operatives preparing to set out for the attack.
Right: ISIS operatives preparing to set out for the attack. Left: The operatives carrying out the attack (Telegram, June 25, 2021)
  • On June 23, 2021, an Iraqi police post was targeted by gunfire in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. Two policemen were wounded. Two days before, a similar attack was carried out in the area. Several policemen were killed or wounded.
Salah al-Din Province
  • On June 28, 2021, An Iraqi police base east of Samarra was targeted by gunfire and mortar shells. Two policemen were wounded.
  • On June 27, 2021, a rocket was fired at a power plant supplying electricity to Al-Jalesiya, about 10 km southeast of Samarra. According to ISIS, a direct hit was detected.
Diyala Province
  • On June 27, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police foot patrol in the Al-Waqf region, northwest of Baqubah. One policeman was killed and two others were wounded.
  • On June 27, 2021, an IED was activated against a vehicle of the Iraqi counterterrorism unit in the Al-Waqf region. The passengers on board were killed or wounded.
Counterterrorism measures in Iraq
  • In an interview with Saleh al-No’man, the spokesman for the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, he spoke in detail about the current characteristics of ISIS’s activity in Iraq in comparison to its activity when it controlled vast territories (Al-Ikhbariya TV channel, June 22, 2021):
    • When ISIS controlled vast territories in Iraq, between June 2014 and December 2017, it was operating major forces which confronted the Iraqi security forces face-to-face. Ever since ISIS lost control of those territories, mainly in Mosul (where it was in control between June 2014 and July 2017), it has lost many of its economic, logistic and military capabilities, as well as its ability to recruit operatives. Therefore, ISIS has switched to guerrilla warfare through small units, usually numbering 4-7 operatives, operating from hiding places, some of which are located in forests.
    • At the current stage, ISIS attempts to prove, through guerrilla warfare and through its propaganda apparatus (mainly the Al-Naba’ weekly, its only media outlet constantly issuing publications), that it is still able to exist. Through its propaganda efforts and guerrilla activity, it tries to mobilize the support of the local population though a carrot and stick policy (that is, it threatens the residents to cooperate with it or at least not to collaborate with the Iraqi security forces, and it grants certain benefits to its supporters).
    • The areas where ISIS cells are active are mainly the northern Diyala Province; south of Baghdad, for example, the Radwaniya region, in the southeastern periphery of Baghdad; the region south of Mosul; Salah al-Din Province, mainly the Tarmiyah region, since it is a rural region where it is easy to hide. In addition, the mountainous regions such as the Hamrin Mountains (about 50 km north of Tikrit) and the Makhmur Mountains (about 70 km southeast of Mosul); in the Kirkuk Province, mainly in the wadis: Wadi al-Shai in the south and Wadi al-Zeitoun in the southwest. He added that ISIS is also active in western Iraq (in the Al-Anbar and Nineveh provinces), albeit on a limited basis, because these are vast desert regions.
    • Apart from confronting ISIS operatives on the ground, Iraq faces additional challenges related to terrorism, which requires a plan of action and budgets. These challenges include the link between crime and terrorism, financing terrorism, surveillance of terrorist activity on social media, and more. According to him, international cooperation is necessary, since terrorist activity in these fields extends beyond the borders of Iraq.
Diyala Province
  • The Iraqi security forces thwarted an ISIS attempt to damage two high-voltage pylons by detonating IEDs, and deactivated the IEDs. The exact location was not mentioned. However, it was stated that the high-voltage pylons are situated in a forested region which made it difficult for the security forces to reach the area (Al-Sumaria, June 28, 2021).
Salah al-Din Province
  • On June 28, 2021, the Iraqi army detained three ISIS operatives in the Tuz Khormato region, about 100 km northeast of Samarra (Al-Sumaria, June 28, 2021).
  • On June 27, 2021, the Iraqi security forces neutralized eight ISIS IEDs which were planted along the international highway in the eastern part of the province (Al-Sumaria, June 27, 2021).
The Sinai Peninsula
  • According to “tribal sources” in north Sinai, two Egyptian soldiers were killed by an IED activated by ISIS’s Sinai Province operatives against a vehicle in which they were traveling south of Bir al-Abd, in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Three other soldiers on board were wounded (Al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 25, 2021).
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
  • Data from an infographic published by ISIS, summing up its activities around the world between June 17 and June 23, 2021, shows that during this period, ISIS carried out 71 attacks in the various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 60 attacks in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out in Iraq (36). Attacks carried out in ISIS’s other provinces: West Africa (16); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (11); Syria (6); Sinai (2) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, June 24, 2021).
  •  According to the infographic, 137 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 92 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in the West Africa Province (75). The other casualties were in the following provinces: Iraq (28); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (20); Syria (10); Sinai (4) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, June 24, 2021).
Africa
  • ISIS’s West Africa Province released a video showing operatives, apparently from the Boko Haram organization (the name Boko Haram was not mentioned in the video, but it was implied), announcing that they were joining ISIS and pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. The video also calls for more operatives to join ISIS. Among other things, the video shows an ISIS operative who speaks fluent Arabic, stating that Allah united them with their brothers, with whom they had had differences of opinion (apparently an implicit reference to Boko Haram operatives). He also stresses hope that Allah will unite them with other operatives sometime in the future. Another operative on the video, speaking in English, mentions the union between ISIS and others (Boko Haram operatives) and calls for more operatives to join ISIS. He also addresses “dictators, Christians, hypocrites and others” around the world, calling on them to convert to Islam. According to the video, some if not all of the operatives who have pledged allegiance to ISIS are Boko Haram operatives documented in the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, June 25, 2021).
Boko Haram operatives in the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, June 25, 2021)  Arabic-speaking ISIS operative documented in the video.
Right: Arabic-speaking ISIS operative documented in the video. Left: Boko Haram operatives in the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria (Telegram, June 25, 2021)
Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)     Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader (Telegram, June 25, 2021)
Boko Haram operatives pledging allegiance to ISIS’s leader
(Telegram, June 25, 2021)
Nigeria
  • Most of ISIS’s attacks this week were carried out against military targets. The following are noteworthy incidents according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility (Telegram):
    • On June 28, 2021, a Nigerian army patrol was ambushed and fired at on the highway, in Borno State, in the northeast of the country. Several soldiers were killed or wounded. ISIS operatives seized three motorcycles.
    • On June 27, 2021, a Nigerian army base was attacked in Bula Yobe, east of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. Eight soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the exchange of fire (Telegram, June 29, 2021).
    • On June 27, 2021, a Nigerian army convoy was ambushed and fired at in eastern Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. Two soldiers were killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, June 29, 2021).
    • On June 26, 2021, a Nigerian army convoy was ambushed and attacked on the Auno-Jakana highway, about 100 km southwest of Lake Chad. Several soldiers were wounded.
    • On June 24, 2021, a Nigerian army base was attacked in Dikwa, about 50 km from the Nigeria-Cameroon border, in northeastern Nigeria. Several soldiers were killed or wounded in the exchange of fire. ISIS operatives also activated an IED at one of the gates of the base. The gate sustained damage.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  •  On June 29, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked Congolese government buildings in the Ituri region, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border, and set fire to several buildings (Telegram, June 29, 2021). No casualties were reported. The day before, an army camp in the region was attacked. Two soldiers were killed in the exchange of fire (Telegram, June 28, 2021).
ISIS operative hanging a flag on a high-voltage pylon (Telegram, June 29, 2021)   ISIS operatives during the attack on the Congolese army camp.
Right: ISIS operatives during the attack on the Congolese army camp. Left: ISIS operative hanging a flag on a high-voltage pylon (Telegram, June 29, 2021)
  • On June 27, 2021, ISIS operatives fired at a Congolese army convoy in the Ituri region. Three soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the exchange of fire (Telegram, June 27, 2021).
  • On June 27, 2021, ISIS operatives activated an IED inside an “infidel Christian” church in the city of Beni, about 50 km west of the Congo-Uganda border. Two Christians were killed and several others were wounded. The church was damaged (Telegram, June 27, 2021).
  • On June 26, 2021, a vehicle of a militia loyal to the Congolese army was targeted by gunfire in the Ituri region. Five militia fighters were killed and several others were wounded (Telegram, June 27, 2021).
Mali
  • On June 25, 2021, 13 soldiers (12 Germans and one Belgian) from the International Peacekeeping Force were wounded in a car bomb blast in northern Mali. On the same day, five Malian soldiers were reported killed in an attack by gunmen in the center of the country (Reuters, June 25, 2021). Organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda or ISIS operating in the area are believed to be behind the incidents.
Niger
  • On June 22, 2021, ISIS operatives attack a Nigerien army base in Bosso, on the Niger-Nigeria border, not far from Lake Chad. Four soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the exchange of fire. Damage was caused to the base (Telegram, June 23, 2021).
  • ISIS’s Amaq News Agency issued (after a considerable delay) a claim of responsibility for an attack carried out by ISIS operatives against a joint patrol by French forces and the Nigerien army in the Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso tri-border area on June 11, 2021. According to the claim of responsibility, ISIS operatives surprised the force as soon as the soldiers got out of their vehicles, and opened fire on them. Three French soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in the exchange of fire and several others were wounded. Six ISIS operatives were shot and killed by aircraft that arrived on the scene to provide assistance. Another operative was wounded and taken prisoner (Telegram, June 23, 2021).
Somalia
  • On June 27, 2021, a convoy of the Somali army special forces was attacked in southeastern Bosaso, in the north of the country. First, an IED was activated against the convoy. When the soldiers got out of their vehicles, another IED was activated against them and they were targeted by gunfire. Two soldiers were killed and five were fatally wounded (Telegram, June 29, 2021).
  • On June 28, 2021, ISIS operatives activated an IED against two police tax collectors on the Mogadishu-Afgooye highway, about 20 km northwest of Mogadishu. Both of them were killed (Telegram, June 28, 2021).
  • On June 26, 2021, ISIS operatives activated IEDs against a convoy in which senior Puntland government officials were traveling south of Bosaso, in northern Somalia. Two soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded. One of the vehicles escorting the convoy was destroyed (Telegram, June 26, 2021).

Asia[3]

Afghanistan
  • Most of the attacks carried out this week by ISIS operatives took the form of activating IEDs. The targets of the attacks included high-voltage pylons and a tanker, as part of what ISIS calls its economic war. Most of the attacks took place in the Parwan Province, north of Kabul. The following is a list of the attacks according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility (Telegram):
    • On June 28, 2021, there was an attempt on the life of a Taliban operative in the Mazar Dara region of the Kunar Province, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
    • On June 27, 2021, an IED was activated against a bus carrying Shiites in the Parwan Province. More than 10 passengers were wounded.
    • On June 26, 2021, an IED was activated against the convoy of the Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Appeals in Charikar, in the Parwan Province. At least one person was killed and several others were wounded.
    • On June 26, 2021, an IED was activated against a high-voltage pylon in the Parwan Province. The pylon was destroyed.
    • On June 25, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan government oil tanker in the Parwan Province. The tanker went up in flames.
    • On June 23, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan army vehicle in the Khiva region of the Nangarhar Province in the east of the country, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Two soldiers were wounded.
Turkey
  • As part of a counterterrorism operation by the Turkish security forces, five Iraqis were detained in the north of the country on suspicion of being ISIS operatives. Electronic equipment was found in their possession and confiscated by the security forces (Anatolia News Agency, June 23, 2021).

Europe

Germany
  • A 24-year-old Somali immigrant stabbed three women to death and seriously wounded six other people in the southern German city of Würzburg. The perpetrator entered a shopping center in the city and asked one of the saleswomen to direct him to the area where knives are sold. He took a knife from the display and stabbed three women to death. He then left the shopping center and began attacking and wounding other people. He was shot in the legs and arrested by police. The attack may have been inspired by ISIS since, according to reports, he was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” and also spoke about Jihad while he was in the hospital. Police said the stabber, who operated as a lone wolf, has a criminal record but not in the context of terrorist activity. It was also reported that the stabber had recently been under treatment by a psychiatrist. The Munich Prosecutor General announced that it was an Islamic terrorist attack (Bild, June 27, 2021; Reuters, June 25, 2021; Walla, June 29, 2021).

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

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