Spotlight on Global Jihad (May 6-12, 2021)

One of the bulldozers on fire (Telegram, May 11, 2021)

One of the bulldozers on fire (Telegram, May 11, 2021)

The two intelligence personnel abducted by ISIS east of Al-Rutba (Telegram, May 7, 2021)

The two intelligence personnel abducted by ISIS east of Al-Rutba (Telegram, May 7, 2021)

The IED being activated against the Iraqi army vehicle (Telegram, May 7, 2021)

The IED being activated against the Iraqi army vehicle (Telegram, May 7, 2021)

ISIS operative, with oil wells going up in flames in the background (Telegram, May 6, 2021)

ISIS operative, with oil wells going up in flames in the background (Telegram, May 6, 2021)

Barracks being set on fire (Telegram, May 8, 2021).

Barracks being set on fire (Telegram, May 8, 2021).

Main events of the past week
  • The fourth week of Ramadan was also marked by a relatively high number of attacks, mainly in Iraq and Africa.
  • Syria: An IED was activated against a Syrian army ATV in the desert region (Al-Badia). The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers were killed or wounded. ISIS’s activity against the Kurdish SDF forces continued in the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region and in the Al-Raqqah region, where there was an increase in activity this week. Southern Syria: ISIS continued its activity against the Syrian army. This week, a soldier was targeted by gunfire in Naba al-Fawar, west of Daraa. He was killed.
  • Iraq: The week, ISIS concentrated its activity mainly in the Kirkuk Province, where its operatives carried out several attacks against camps of the Iraqi security forces. ISIS operatives also blew up two oil wells in the area of Bai Hassan, northwest of Kirkuk, as part of the its so-called economic war.
  • Africa: There appears to have been a slight decrease in ISIS’s activity this week. In Nigeria, ISIS operatives attacked an army post in the northeast of the country. Eight soldiers were killed in the exchange of fire. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ISIS operatives attacked two army camps in the Beni region.
  • Afghanistan: This week, for the first time, ISIS carried out activity against infrastructure in the country, as part of what it calls its economic war. As part of their activity, ISIS’s operatives attacked high-voltage pylons and several tankers. It appears that in addition to targeting the Afghan security forces, ISIS is interested in stepping up its economic terrorism in the country.
  • Germany has outlawed several Islamic organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Somalia and Syria. Following the decision, German security forces raided dozens of targets affiliated with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the cities of Düsseldorf, Berlin and Hamburg (DW, May 5, 2021; Reuters, May 5, 2021).
  • A UN report released on May 6, 2021, indicates that ISIS operatives made use of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.
The Syrian arena

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

The Idlib region
  • During the week, exchanges of artillery fire continued almost daily between the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, and the rebel forces. On May 7, 2021, an HTS force penetrated into the area south of the rebel enclave, where there were Russian soldiers. Five Russian soldiers were reportedly killed. An HTS operative was also killed and two others were wounded (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 6-9, 2021).
The desert region (Al-Badia)
  • On May 10, 2021, at least seven Syrian soldiers and members of the forces supporting them were killed and 18 were wounded by the explosion of mines planted by ISIS east of Al-Sukhnah, about 120 km southwest of Deir ez-Zor (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, May 10, 2021).
  • On May 4, 2021, an IED was activated against a Syrian army vehicle in the Al-Sukhnah Desert, about 100 km southwest of Deir ez-Zor. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
The Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadeen region
  • ISIS continued its attacks against the Kurdish SDF forces operating in the area. The following are details about some of the attacks according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
    • On May 10, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF building in the Basira region, about 15 km north of Al-Mayadeen. It was destroyed.
    • On May 10, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle in Shahil, about 10 km north of Al-Mayadeen. The passengers were killed or wounded.
    • On May 10, 2021, an SDF fighter was targeted by gunfire in the Sour region, about 50 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor. He was killed.
    • On May 9, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle about 5 km northeast of Al-Mayadeen. The passengers were killed or wounded.
    • On May 8, 2021, the SDF headquarters in the Sour region, about 50 km northwest of Deir ez-Zor, was targeted by gunfire and sustained damage. An IED was activated against a rescue force arriving on the site. All the passengers of the vehicle were killed or wounded.
    • On May 7, 2021, Ghassan al-Khabl, the commander of a foj (an army unit similar in size to a battalion), was targeted by gunfire while riding his motorcycle in the Diban region, about 3 km east of Al-Mayadeen. He was killed (Telegram, May 7; Zaman Al-Wasl, May 8, 2021).
    • On May 5, 2021, the vehicle of an SDF commander was targeted by gunfire in the Sabha region, about 30 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor. The commander and two of his escorts were wounded.
    • On May 5, 2021, a jailer in the SDF prison in Hajin, about 50 km southeast of Al-Mayadeen, was targeted by gunfire and was wounded. According to other sources, he was an ex-ISIS operative. It was also reported that he had died of his wounds (www.jesrpress.com, May 7, 2021).
The Al-Raqqah region
  • On May 9, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle north of Al-Raqqah. Two of the passengers were killed and others were wounded.
  • On May 9, 2021, an IED was activated against an SDF vehicle north of Al-Raqqah. Two of the passengers were killed and several others were wounded.
  • On May 8, 2021, an SDF vehicle was targeted by gunfire from an ISIS roadblock on a road east of Al-Raqqah. The passengers were wounded.
  • On May 5, 2021, a truck carrying several SDF fighters east of Al-Raqqah was targeted by gunfire. Some of the passengers were killed and others were wounded.
  • On May 5, 2021, the SDF headquarters in Karamah, east of Al-Raqqah, was targeted by gunfire. Several fighters were wounded.
Southern Syria
  • This week as well, ISIS claimed responsibility for attacks carried out against the Syrian army, mainly shooting attacks in the Daraa region. On May 9, 2021, ISIS claimed responsibility for shooting at a Syrian soldier in Naba al-Fawar, west of Daraa. He was killed. ISIS also claimed responsibility for killing a Syrian officer in northern Daraa by machine gun fire on May 10, 2021.
 The Iraqi arena

Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)
Provinces of Iraq (Wikipedia)

  • This week as well, ISIS operatives carried out many attacks in the various provinces in Iraq. Noteworthy were the Kirkuk and Diyala provinces. The Iraqi security forces continued their counterterrorism measures against ISIS in the various provinces. The following are the attacks, mostly according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility.
Diyala Province
  • On May 11, 2021, three Iraqi army camps were targeted by gunfire in the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah. One soldier was killed and four others were wounded. In addition, ISIS downed an Iraqi army drone, and put out two vehicles and a heavy machine gun out of commission.
  • On May 11, 2021, a Shiite village west of Khanaqin was targeted by gunfire.
  • On May 10, 2021, IEDs were planted near Tribal Mobilization water pumps and generators on the outskirts of the Al-Azim region, about 60 km north of Baqubah.
  • On May 8, 2021, an Iraqi soldier was targeted by gunfire north of Al-Miqdadiya, about 40 km northeast of Baqubah. He was wounded.
  • On May 8, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle west of Khanaqin, about 90 km northeast of Baqubah. One soldier was killed and three others, including a foj commander, were wounded.
  • On May 8, 2021, a mortar shell was fired at an Iraqi army camp south of Bahraz, about 2 km southeast of Baqubah. A definite hit was identified.
  • On May 8, 2021, three mortar shells were fired at Al-Islah, north of the Jalula region, about 75 km northeast of Baqubah. No hits or casualties were reported.
  • On May 8, 2021, two Iraqi army vehicles were targeted by gunfire west of Khanaqin. They were both put out of commission. No casualties were reported.
  • On May 6, 2021, an Iraqi army commando camp was targeted by gunfire west of Al-Azim, about 60 km north of Baqubah. Three soldiers were killed and two others were wounded. In addition, two vehicles were put out of commission.
  • On May 5, 2021, an Iraqi soldier was targeted by gunfire north of Jalula, about 75 km northeast of Baqubah. He was wounded.
Salah al-Din Province
  • On May 11, 2021, a Tribal Mobilization camp in the Al-Ghaith region, about 50 km north of Tikrit, was targeted by gunfire. One fighter was wounded.
  • On May 9, 2021, two Iraqi government bulldozers were set on fire in the Mashahida region, about 20 km north of Baghdad.
One of the bulldozers on fire (Telegram, May 11, 2021)
One of the bulldozers on fire (Telegram, May 11, 2021)
  • On May 10, 2021, rockets were fired at an Iraqi police post about 30 km north of Samarra. One policeman was killed. Two days before, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army ATV in the area. The passengers were killed or wounded.
  • On May 8, 2021, a camp of Saraya al-Salam (a Popular Mobilization militia headed by Shiite leader Muqtada Sadr) was targeted by gunfire east of Samarra. Three militia fighters were killed. A patrol arriving on the scene was attacked by gunfire. Three vehicles were put out of commission and their passengers were wounded.
Al-Anbar Province
  • On May 9, 2021, an IED was activated against a Popular Mobilization vehicle in the Akashat region, near the Iraqi-Syrian border, east of Al-Qaim. The passengers were killed or wounded.
  • On May 8, 2021, an intelligence operative was abducted east of Al-Rutba, in western Iraq, and was executed a short while afterwards. On the same day, an Iraqi army camp west of Al-Rutba was targeted by gunfire and caught fire.
  • On May 6, 2021, two intelligence personnel were abducted east of Al-Rutba, in western Iraq. They were interrogated and then executed. The ISIS operatives seized an ATV, a rifle and a machine gun.
  • On May 5, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in Al-Rutba. The vehicle was destroyed and the passengers on board were killed or wounded.
Babel Province
  • On May 5, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in the Jarf al-Sakhr region, about 40 km south of Baghdad. Two soldiers were killed and two others were wounded.
Nineveh Province
  • On May 6, 2021, an IED was activated against Iraqi soldiers in Al-Mawali, west of Mosul. One soldier was killed and several others were wounded.
Kirkuk Province
  • On May 10, 2021, an Iraqi police post was targeted by gunfire in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk. An IED was also activated against a rescue vehicle arriving on the scene. All the passengers were wounded.
  • On May 9, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle near Al-Tamour, south of Kirkuk. Five soldiers, including an officer, were killed. Before that, an Iraqi soldier at an army camp on the site was targeted by gunfire and killed.
  • On May 7, 2021, mortar shells were fired at an Iraqi army headquarters in the Zarka Bridge area, about 90 km northeast of Samarra.
  • On May 6, 2021, an IED was activated against an Iraqi army vehicle in the southern part of the Daquq region, in southern Kirkuk. The vehicle was destroyed. A day before, an IED was activated against an Iraqi police vehicle in the same area. It was destroyed.
  • On May 6, 2021, a Tribal Mobilization camp in the Rashad region, about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk, was targeted by gunfire and rockets. Two Tribal Mobilization fighters were killed.
  • On May 5, 2021, mortar shells were fired at camps of the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization in Samakah, southeast of Daquq. No hits or casualties were reported.
  • On May 5, 2021, a post of the Iraqi police securing oil facilities in the area of Bai Hassan, about 40 km northwest of Kirkuk, was targeted by gunfire. One policeman was killed and another was wounded. In addition, IEDs were activated close to two oil wells, which caught fire.
Diyala Province
  • On May 6, 2021, an Iraqi army commando camp was targeted by gunfire west of Al-Azim, about 60 km north of Baqubah. Three soldiers were killed and two others were wounded.
  • On May 3, 2021, a Popular Mobilization camp about 40 km southwest of Kirkuk was targeted by gunfire and rockets. Five Popular Mobilization fighters were killed and three others were wounded.
  • On May 3, 2021, two Iraqi army camps in Al-Tamour, south of Kirkuk, were targeted by gunfire and rockets. Two soldiers were killed, one of them a second lieutenant, and a third was wounded. The camps sustained damage.

Counterterrorism in Iraq

Al-Anbar Province
  • On May 6, 2021, three ISIS commanders were killed in an operation carried out by the Counterterrorism Unit in the Al-Janoub sector (the region of southwestern Iraq). The three commanders had been involved in a suicide bombing attack in Al-Tayaran Square in Baghdad. A sub-sector commander was also arrested in the region (Twitter page of the Iraqi Counterterrorism Unit, May 7, 2021).
Kirkuk Province
  • On May 8, 2021, the Iraqi army detained three brothers, all of whom were junior ISIS commanders (Al-Sumaria, May 8, 2021).
  • On May 7, 2021, Iraqi security forces located and destroyed ISIS tunnels and hiding places south of Kirkuk. IEDs, weapons and a boat were found in the hiding places (Al-Sumaria, May 7, 2021).
Summary of ISIS’s activity in the various provinces
  •  ISIS published an infographic this week, summing up its activity around the world between April 29 and May 5, 2021. According to the infographic, during this period, ISIS operatives carried out 81 attacks in the various provinces in Asia and Africa, compared to 80 in the previous week. The largest number of attacks was carried out in Iraq (52). The attacks carried out in the other provinces: Syria (12); Central Africa (8); West Africa (5); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (4). According to the infographic, 168 people were killed or wounded in the attacks, compared to 182 in the previous week. The largest number of casualties was in Iraq (102). The other casualties were in the following provinces: West Africa (19); Syria (17); Khorasan, i.e., Afghanistan (15); Central Africa (15) (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021).
The infographic in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021)
The infographic in ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021)

Africa

Nigeria
  • On May 6, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked a Nigerian army position in Bulabulin, about 50 km southwest of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria. Eight soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the exchange of fire. ISIS operatives set fire to the barracks, three tanks and artillery. Upon their departure, they seized vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, weapons  and ammunition.
Weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives (Telegram, May 8, 2021)
Weapons and ammunition seized by ISIS operatives (Telegram, May 8, 2021)
ISIS distributing food bags and cash to residents of Nigeria
  • ISIS’s West Africa Province released a series of photos documenting the distribution of food bags and money to Nigerian residents, including children (some of them orphans). According to ISIS, the distribution was made as Zakat (charity), which is practiced in Islam, especially during Ramadan (Telegram, May 7, 2021).
 Food bags and cash being distributed to residents (Telegram, May 7, 2021).    Truck loaded with food bags to be distributed. ISIS operatives wearing vests with the inscription, “Islamic State – Zakat.”
Right: Truck loaded with food bags to be distributed. ISIS operatives wearing vests with the inscription, “Islamic State – Zakat.” Left: Food bags and cash being distributed to residents (Telegram, May 7, 2021).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • On May 9, 2021, ISIS operatives attacked a base in the Rwenzori region in eastern Congo, not far from the border with Uganda, where soldiers from Kenya, Congo and Somalia were stationed. There were exchanges of fire and several soldiers were killed or wounded.On the same day, in the same area, ISIS operatives launched a rocket at a vehicle of the forces on the Beni-Kasundi highway. The passengers were killed or wounded.

Asia

Afghanistan
  • Noteworthy attacks by ISIS in Afghanistan this week included attacks against “economic” targets (high-voltage pylons and oil tankers), as part of what ISIS calls its economic war against the authorities. Following are several noteworthy attacks, according to ISIS’s claims of responsibility:
    • On May 11, 2021, an IED was activated against Afghan police in Kabul. Two policemen were wounded.
    • On May 10, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan government oil tanker in the Baghlan region, about 180 km north of Kabul. The tanker went up in flames.
    • On May 10, 2021, an IED was activated against a bus carrying Shiites in Charikar, in the Parwan region, on the northern outskirts of Kabul. Several passengers were killed or wounded and the bus was destroyed. An additional IED was activated against the passengers who gathered at the scene. About 20 people were killed or wounded in the attack.
    • On May 10, 2021, an IED was activated against two Afghan government oil tankers in the Bagram region of Parwan, on the northern outskirts of Kabul. Both tankers caught fire. The day before, and IED had been activated against two Afghan government oil tankers in the Shakardara District in Kabul. One tanker caught fire along with another tanker that was next to it. An IED was also activated against an Afghan government oil tanker in the Baghlan region, about 180 km north of Kabul. The tanker caught fire.
    • On May 8, 2021, a car bomb exploded at the entrance to a girls’ school in Kabul. The school belongs to the Hazara, a Shiite ethnic group. About 50 people were killed and about 100 others were wounded. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. It may have been carried out by ISIS, which also perceives the Shiite Hazara in Afghanistan as a target for attacks (AP, May 8-9, 2021; Reuters, May 8, 2021).
    • On May 7, 2021, a so-called Afghan government spy was targeted by gunfire in the Jabarhar region of the Nangarhar Province, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
    • On May 7, 2021, several IEDs were activated against two high-voltage pylons in the Kunduz area, 200 km north of Kabul. The pylons collapsed, causing a power outage. Another attack was carried out against three high-voltage towers in the city of Kabul. The towers collapsed, damaging the country’s electricity industry.
    • On May 6, 2021, an IED was activated against an Afghan government oil tanker in the Kunduz region, about 200 km north of Kabul. The tanker went up in flames.
Pakistan
  • ISIS operatives fired at a Pakistani police vehicle in the Mastung region, near the border with Afghanistan. Two policemen were killed and another was wounded.
The Maldives
  • Mohamed Nasheed, parliamentary spokesman and former president of the Maldives, was seriously wounded in an IED explosion near his home. According to various reports, ISIS claimed responsibility for the incident (the ITIC has not located the claim of responsibility). Three security guards and a British national were wounded in the incident (WION, May 7, 2021; Reuters, May 7, 2021).
The Philippines
  • Dozens of operatives of the ISIS-affiliated Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) took over a local market in Datu Paglas on the southern Philippine island of Maguindanao. The security forces managed to drive them away. No casualties were reported (www.channelnewsasia.com, May 8, 2021; www.independent.co.uk, May 9, 2021).

Europe

Germany
  • German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that Germany had outlawed the Islamic organization Ansaar International and Islamic organizations affiliated with it. He said that the organization, headquartered in Düsseldorf, had set up a fundraising network for Islamic terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Al-Shabaab in Somalia (a branch of Al-Qaeda) and the Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, renamed the Fateh al-Sham Front in July 2016). German authorities have outlawed the activity of eight other Islamic groups affiliated with the organization. These organizations also served as a source of religious radicalization, mainly of children and youths, who were sent to “religious camps” outside Germany. Following the decision, German security forces raided dozens of targets of the organization and its affiliates in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Hamburg (DW, May 5, 2021; Reuters, May 5, 2021).
UN report: ISIS used chemical and biological weapons in Iraq
  • A report released by the United Nations on May 6, 2021 states that in 2014-2016, ISIS used chemical and biological weapons in its activity in Iraq. According to the report, which is based on interrogations of detainees and additional evidence, ISIS systematically used chemicals and biological substances such as toxic industrial materials and nerve gas against Iraqi citizens (www.thenationalnews.com, May 6, 2021).
The battle for hearts and minds
Propaganda
  • The main article in this week’s edition of ISIS’s Al-Naba’ weekly was devoted to Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, a senior ISIS figure who was killed. Abu Muhammad al-Furqan was the codename of Dr Wa’il Adel Hasan Salman al-Fayad, a physician by training, who served as the head of ISIS’s media network and whose death was announced by ISIS in October 2016. The article in his memory is used to convey the message that the war on perceptions and ideas is no less important than the war with weapons. Therefore, the senior members of ISIS’s media network who are at the forefront of the struggle are worthy of admiration. The article goes on to praise Abu Muhammad al-Furqan for his great contribution to ISIS, and especially his contribution to the establishment of its media network. The article also mentions the fact that Abu Muhammad al-Furqan was one of the veteran members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which served as the infrastructure for the establishment of ISIS (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021).
The article about Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021)
The article about Abu Muhammad al-Furqan (Al-Naba’ weekly, Telegram, May 6, 2021)