Spotlight on Global Jihad May 7-13, 2015

by Veronica Coffin on May 18, 2015

 

 

Written by ITIC

Main Events of the Week [1]

In the Idlib province, northwestern Syria, battles continue between the Syrian Army and Hezbollah operatives and the Al-Nusra Front and its allies (Jaysh al-Fatah). Most of the fighting is taking place in the area of Mount Nabi Younes, which dominates the road leading to Latakia. According to Arab media, supporters of Assad’s regime have begun preparations to defend the city of Latakia and its surroundings in light of the emerging threat. In the area of Al-Qalamoun (Syria-Lebanon border), battles continue between the Syrian forces and Hezbollah and the Al-Nusra Front and its allies, so far inconclusively.

In Iraq, there have been no significant changes: in the refinery compound in Baiji, ISIS controls most of the area and so far has the upper hand in the fighting against the Iraqi Army. The city of Ramadi, in the Anbar province, is predominantly controlled by the Iraqi security forces, although there are still ISIS pockets of resistance there. In the city of Al-Karmah, near Fallujah, the Iraqi Army is mounting an offensive, with air support provided by the coalition forces.

In the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian security forces are intensifying their operations against the ISIS’s branch in Sinai, so far without significant results. At the same time as the security operations, Bedouin tribes began to operate against ISIS’s branch. The most prominent of these tribes is the Tarabin tribe. The tribe’s spokesman claimed that the areas controlled by the Tarabin were free of the presence of ISIS supporters and noted that the tribe and the Egyptian security forces cooperated with one another.

The International Campaign Against ISIS

US and coalition airstrikes

  • This week, the US and coalition forces continued their airstrikes against ISIS targets. During the week, dozens of airstrikes were carried out in Syria and Iraq. Following are the locations of the airstrikes (CENTCOM website)
    • Syria – the airstrikes were concentrated in the provinces of Al-Hasakah, Aleppo, Kobani and Al-Raqqah. The airstrikes damaged ISIS tactical units, battle positions, mortars and vehicles, among other things.
    • Iraq – the airstrikes were concentrated in the areas of Hawija, Baiji, Mosul, Ramadi, Sinjar, Al-Assad, Al-Qaim, Fallujah and Tal Afar. The airstrikes damaged ISIS tactical units, weapons, vehicles, heavy machinery, car bombs, battle positions and buildings, among other things.

US reaction to reported killing of civilians in an airstrike in northern Syria

  • Syrian human rights officials reported that an airstrike carried out by the United States on May 1, 2015, in the village of Bir Mahli, south of Kobani, killed at least 64 people, including women and children (www.syriahr.com, May 4, 2015). The Pentagon Spokesman said that so far there had been no confirmation of the presence of civilians in the village that was attacked (the village is controlled by ISIS). US Department of Defense officials have not confirmed the deaths of civilians but said that the reports were being taken seriously and that they would conduct an internal investigation on the matter (AP, May 4, 2015).

Cash rewards being offered for information about senior ISIS operatives

  • The US Department of State has offered cash rewards to anyone providing information about four senior operatives of the ISIS leadership. The highest reward, worth seven million dollars, has been offered for information about Hajji Ayman, the deputy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (according to recent reports, he may have been appointed as his replacement, after Al-Baghdadi was wounded in March 2015). Rewards were also offered to anyone providing information about ISIS Spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani and about Omar the Chechen, a senior military operative (USD 5 million each). The reward offered for information about Tareq Abu Omar, who was previously in charge of recruiting and training suicide bombers, is USD 3 million (US Department of State website, May 5, 2015).  A USD 10 million reward for information about the ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi was offered in the past (October 2011).

The CIA’s wrong assessment of the impact of the regional turmoil on Al-Qaeda’s chances of survival

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who retired from his post in 2013, published a book entitled The Great War of Our Time. In a summary of his book, published in The Washington Post, he claims that the US intelligence community erred in its assessment of the impact of the regional turmoil on Al-Qaeda. According to Morell, following the elimination of Bin Laden and the revolutions that took place in the Arab world, the US leadership displayed excessive optimism about the prospects for the collapse of Al-Qaeda. According to him, the US assessment was that the regional upheaval in the Middle East, which was ostensibly based on secularist and nationalist demands, would harm Al-Qaeda’s Salafist-jihadi narrative and lead to its collapse. He also claimed in his book that the wrong assessment stemmed from the excessive reliance of the US on regional partners whose leaderships were cut off from what was happening and failed to notice the signs of protest (Washington Post, May 5, 2015)

In retrospect, it may be said that the regional upheaval in the Middle East actually strengthened the global jihad organizations, shifting their center of gravity from the area of Pakistan-Afghanistan to the Middle East, and Iraq, Syria and Libya in particular.Al-Qaeda, which was the sole umbrella organization of the global jihad, found itself with a significant rival in the form of ISIS and the Islamic State under its leadership. In recent years, ISIS has become the leading and most influential organization among jihadi networks and Muslim communities around the world.

 Main Developments in Syria

Idlib province

In the Idlib province,battles continued between the Syrian Army, which is supported by Hezbollah, and the Al-Nusra Front and its allies (Jaysh al-Fatah). According to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese media, Syrian regime forces began to advance toward Jisr al-Shughur, which has been held by the rebels for the past two weeks, where around 250 officials of the regime and their families remain trapped in the National Hospital building (located in the southwest of the city). It was reported that the Syrian Army was attempting to surround the city (Al-Manar, May 10, 2015). At this stage, the ITIC cannot verify these reports. According to reports in the Lebanese media, Hezbollah forces are also taking part in the fighting alongside the Syrian regime forces (Al-Akhbar, May 9, 2015). In addition, Syrian sources claim that Iranian officers are taking part in the fighting (NBN, May 8, 2015).

As part of the efforts by the Al-Nusra Front and its allies to break into the National Hospital in Jisr al-Shughur, where Syrian Army soldiers are still besieged, on the evening of May 10, 2015, another car bomb attack was carried out near the hospital. According to the reports, the Al-Nusra Front was behind the attack (Al-Manar, May 10, 2015). Al-Nusra Front officials reported that in the fighting around the hospital, the Al-Nusra Front destroyed four tanks, two guns and vehicles belonging to the Syrian Army, and that nearly seventy people were killed. According to the reports, Al-Nusra Front operatives managed to enter the hospital and are fighting with the besieged Syrians (two Al-Nusra Front-affiliated Twitter accounts; RT; May 10, 2015).

On May 10, 2015, the Al-Nusra Front’s media arm posted a video on YouTube showing interviews with Al-Nusra Front operatives in the village of Arafit, located near the summit of Mount Nabi Younes in the Kurdish Mountains. According to one of the speakers in the video, three attempted attacks on the village by Syrian regime forces were thwarted in the past ten days, and around 65 members of regime’s forces were killed in the fighting. Subsequently, a different Twitter account holder claimed that the dead included fighters with Iranian citizenship (Al-Nusra Front-affiliated Twitter account, May 9, 2015; another Al-Nusra Front-affiliated Twitter account, May 10, 2015).

The current situation is that after taking over the city of Jisr al-Shughur, operatives of the Al-Nusra Front and their allies continue to advance toward the coastline and the city of Latakia, a stronghold of the Syrian regime. Most of the fighting is taking place in the area of Mount Nabi Younes, which dominates the area and the road leading to Latakia. In the ITIC’s assessment, the Syrian forces are on the defensive, and Lebanese media reports about an attempt to retake the town of Jisr al-Shughur have not been confirmed. Reportedly, the militias that are loyal to the Syrian regime have begun recruiting volunteers and there are plans to dig trenches and embankments in and around the city of Latakia, in view of the emerging threat (Al-Arabiya al-Hadath, May 10, 2015).

 Al-Hasakah province

  • In the town of Tall Tamr, north of the city of Al-Hasakah, fighting continued between ISIS operatives and the Kurdish YPG forces. The Kurdish forces are aided by Syriac operatives from the Syriac Military Council (SMC). ISIS operatives reportedly suffered losses in these battles (SOHR, May 10, 2015).

Deir al-Zor

 

  • In the city of Deir al-Zor, battles are being waged between ISIS operatives (concentrated in the east of the city and in the industrial zone) and Syrian security forces. According to reports, the Syrian Army managed to repel most of ISIS’s attacks. It was also reported that Abu al-Hareth al-Masaawi, ISIS’s local “emir”, was killed in the fighting (Local Coordination Committees in Syria, May 8, 2015). On May 6, 2015, ISIS operatives carried out a suicide bombing attack at the Syrian Army’s Jamyan checkpoint, near the city of Deir al-Zor. The codename of the suicide bomber who carried out the attack is Abu Ali al-Ansari (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, May 6, 2015).
  • Concurrently, battles were waged near the Deir al-Zor airfield, held by the Syrian Army, in which dozens of members of the Syrian security forces were killed. The dead reportedly included Liwa (Major General) Yassin Abdo Maa’la, commander of the airfield’s air defense brigade (Al-Durar al-Shamiya, May 8, 2015).

Aleppo province

 

  • Confrontations continued between ISIS operatives and the forces of the Syrian regime in the area of the Kuweyres military airbase, east of the city of Aleppo. The airbase was attacked by ISIS operatives. The attack began with the detonation of two car bombs at the gate to the airbase. Then over three hundred operatives entered the airbase and clashed with the security forces. The Syrians claim they were able to detonate the two car bombs before they reached the airbase (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, May 7, 2015).

Al-Qalamoun (the Syrian-Lebanese border)

 

  • Over the past few days, fighting continued between the Al-Nusra Front and its allies (Jaysh al-Fatah) and the Syrian Army. In these clashes, Hezbollah reportedly achieved local tactical victories. However, According to Jaysh al-Fatah sources, around sixty Hezbollah operatives were killed in the clashes in the area of Al-Qalamoun, including Marwan Mughniyeh (Imad Mughniyeh’s nephew), who was in charge of Hezbollah’s special missions unit (enabbaladi.org, May 8, 2015). The Hezbollah website published a notice of the death of Marwan Mughniyeh along with eight of his soldiers in an ambush set for them by operatives of the Al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army in the Assal al-Ward area of Al-Qalamoun (Suriyati, May 9, 2015).
  • Media affiliated with the Al-Nusra Front and its allies reported the achievements in the fighting. On the other hand, both the Syrian government and Hezbollah have reported a series of successes in battle. For example, on May 11, 2015, Hezbollah announced that after fierce battles, its forces had managed to take over the entire Al-Jobeh mountain range, southwest of Yabroud, after destroying three Jaysh al-Fatah training bases (Al-Manar TV, May 11, 2015). On May 12, 2015, it was reported that the Syrian Army and Hezbollah had taken over one of the hills that dominates the area (Al-Mayadeen, May 12, 2015).
  • At the same time, during the fighting in Al-Qalamoun, the Al-Nusra Front and its allies clashed with ISIS operatives in the area. On May 10, 2015, in a raid on ISIS strongholds in western Al-Qalamoun, several dozen ISIS operatives were detained, including Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi, one of the local commanders in the area. There were also reports of clashes between the sides in eastern Al-Qalamoun and in Al-Zabadani. A source close to the Al-Nusra Front clarified that the conflict with ISIS was limited to certain areas and it would not affect the campaign against the Syrian Army and Hezbollah (As-Safir, May 12, 2015).

Main developments in Iraq

Salah al-Din province

Tikrit

  • After the takeover of the city of Tikrit by the Iraqi Army, ISIS and the Iraqi Army are now fighting over the control of the oil fields near the city:
    • On May 8, 2015, it was reported that ISIS managed to take over most of the area of the Allash oil field east of Tikrit (Aamaq, May 8, 2015; Al-Jazeera.net, May 9, 2015).
    • On May 7, 2015, a car bomb exploded near the Ajil oil field. Twenty-five Iraqi policemen were killed. On May 9, 2015, the Iraqi Army repelled an attack on the oil field. According to the reports, the attack killed 73 ISIS operatives who had tried to take over the area (Kul al-Iraq, May 7, 2015; Ayn al-Iraq News, May 9, 2015).

The city of Baiji

  • Iraqi and American security officials have warned that the Iraqi forces remaining in the refinery compound in Baiji are in danger of losing control of the site. They say that ISIS operatives control large parts of the refinery compound and are surrounding the Iraqi security forces that remain there. According to a senior Iraqi officer, the Iraqi forces are under siege after all the supply routes were cut off by ISIS. In the officer’s assessment, two-thirds of the area of the refineries is controlled by ISIS. According to the same officer, it is difficult to carry out airstrikes in the area without causing any damage to the refineries. The US also warned of deterioration in the situation in Baiji. Pentagon Spokesman Steve Warren told reporters that the fighting in Baiji was being conducted “in the wrong direction” and that ISIS had the upper hand (Reuters, May 6, 2015).

Ramadi

  • The Iraqi security forces are establishing their control in the city of Ramadi, capital of the Al-Anbar province. According to reports, over the past few days, many of the city’s residents, who fled from the city during the fighting, have begun to return. However, at present, it is impossible to provide the returning residents with basic living conditions (Al-Qirtas, May 9, 2015; Wakalat al-Sahafa al-Mustaqilla (Independent Press Agency), May 9, 2015). An Iraqi security source said that even after the Iraqi Army’s takeover of the city of Ramadi, there were still ISIS pockets of resistance in the city (Kul al-Iraq, May 11, 2015).

Al-Karmah

  • During the week, fighting continued between the Iraqi Army and ISIS operatives in the city of Al-Karmah on the Tigris River, near the city of Fallujah. The Iraqi Army is carrying out a campaign for the liberation of the city, named “the Dawn of Al-Karmah”.  The campaign is being conducted with the air support of the coalition forces, led by the United States. According to the reports, during the campaign, dozens of ISIS operatives were killed, dozens of IEDs were neutralized and much of ISIS’s military infrastructure was destroyed, including its headquarters in the region (Al-Hurra, May 3, 2015; Al-Hadath, May 4, 2015; Radio Al-Iraq al-Hurr, May 4, 2015; Al-Barq News, May 7, 2015; Wakalat al-Sahafa al-Mustaqilla (Independent Press Agency), May 9, 2015; Akhbarak, May 10, 2015).

Diyala province (north of Baghdad)

  • A group of ISIS operatives claims to have released several dozen prisoners in the raid on the Al-Khalis Prison, located about 80 km northeast of Baghdad. More than sixty people were killed in the raid, including Iraqi officers. According to the ISIS-affiliated Aamaq news agency, ISIS operatives broke into the prison by detonating explosives and managed to reach the prison armory. Around three hundred prisoners are held in the prison, mainly on charges of terrorist activity (The Independent, May 10, 2015).

Breaking into Iraqi prisons and releasing incarcerated terrorist operatives is a “specialty” of ISIS. In 2012, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi distributed an audio cassette to his supporters, outlining his plans for releasing prisoners from jail, which he called “Breaking the Walls”. The highlight of these operations came in July 2013, when ISIS broke into the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. This prison, the largest and most secure in Iraq, was used for incarcerating the rebels who fought against US Army forces when they were deployed in Iraq. After the withdrawal of the US Army, the prison was used by the Iraqi government to incarcerate hundreds of Al-Qaeda operatives. Releasing jihadi operatives from prison adds high-caliber manpower to the ranks of ISIS and increases its prestige.

Baghdad province

  • An ISIS video released on May 10, 2015, provides information about the manufacture of IEDs by ISIS. The video shows the IED production process, the tests conducted on the IEDs and how the completed IEDs are used, mainly for car bombs (Isdarat al-Dawla al-Islamiyya, May 10, 2015). Car bombs, some of them driven by suicide bombers, are used extensively by ISIS in its military attacks.

The Conduct of the Islamic State

ISIS establishes itself in Mosul

The opening of a luxury hotel

  • ISIS recently opened a luxury hotel in Mosul for jihadi operatives who visit the city. ISIS-affiliated social networks published photos showing the hotel, which includes gardens and swimming pools. ISIS flags have been hoisted in front of the hotel. Apparently, the hotel was originally the 262-room Nineveh Hotel, which had fallen into the hands of ISIS. The hotel’s grand opening was held on May 1, 2015 (BBC, May 5, 2015).

1 ISIS HOTEL MOSUL

The ISIS Hotel in Mosul (ISIS-affiliated social networks, May 1, 2015)

The opening of an Institute of Islamic Studies

SIS opened an Institute of Islamic Studies in Mosul,in the area where the Grand Imam College operated before it was destroyed. Yahya al-Afri, the Mufti of Mosul, was appointed to head the Institute. Students will attend the Institute for one year and, upon graduation, will be awarded a mufti certificate (Al-Quds al-Arabi, May 7, 2015).

Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula

Egyptian security activity

  • Egyptian security forces continued their increased activity against jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula. During the week, several terrorist operatives were killed by the Egyptian security forces, which also detained several dozen individuals on suspicion of terrorist activity and confiscated large quantities of weapons and explosives (Al-Rai, May 9, 2015). On May 9, 2015, the Egyptian security forces demolished three mosques in the buffer zone between Egyptian Rafah and the Gaza Strip (Al-Jazeera TV, May 9, 2015). The Egyptians also destroyed additional 31 tunnels on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip (Egyptian Ministry of Defense YouTube channel, May 11, 2015).
  • On the other hand, jihadist activity against the Egyptian security forces continued. Here are some examples:
  • On May 8, 2015, operatives in a car opened fire on an Egyptian police patrol in western Al-Arish and then fled. Four policemen were wounded (Al-Youm al-Sabea, May 8, 2015).
  • On May 7, 2015, terrorist operatives fired mortar shells at a concentration of Egyptian security forces in the area of Karam al-Kawadis. One soldier was wounded (Al-Youm al-Sabea, May 7, 2015).
  • On May 5, 2015, the Egyptian security forces announced that they had thwarted an attempted terrorist attack in Sheikh Zuweid. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack (ISIS’s official Twitter account, May 5, 2015).

2 Mortar shell being fired at a camp of one of the Egyptian

Left: Mortar shell being fired at a camp of one of the Egyptian security apparatus in Egyptian Rafah. Right: Firing at an Egyptian Army ambush south of Sheikh Zuweid (justpaste.it file sharing website, May 6, 2015)

Activity by Bedouin tribes against ISIS’s branch in Sinai

  • Following the establishment of an umbrella framework by the name of the Tribal Alliance in Sinai to fight against Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a meeting was convened with representatives of 30 tribes. At the meeting, it was decided to make preparations for a campaign against the terrorist groups in Sinai, to support the Egyptian security forces. The tribes also decided to establish a media committee, which will set up a website that will expose “the lies of the terrorist groups” (Al-Arabiya al-Hadath, May 10, 2015).
  • A statement released by the Tarabin tribe, signed by the tribespeople and sheikhs, announced the cleansing of its territory from jihadi operatives. The statement also included a warning that no jihadi operative would be allowed to enter the tribe’s territory (Al-Youm al-Sabea, May 6, 2015). Musa al-Dalah, spokesman for the tribe, said that although the Sinai territories controlled by the tribe are free of the presence of ISIS supporters, “the conflicts are [still] not over.” The spokesman expressed the tribespeople’s loyalty to the Egyptian regime, saying that there is cooperation between tribe and the Egyptian security forces (Sada al-Balad, May 9, 2015).

The Gaza Strip

Incidents between the Hamas security apparatus and Salafist-jihadi operatives

  • In the ITIC’s assessment, the reason for the security activity by Hamas is the fear that ISIS’s influence in the Gaza Strip is increasing. It may also be intended to show Egypt that Hamas is taking action against the jihadi organizations in the Gaza Strip just as Egypt is fighting against these organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.
  • In the first half of May 2015, the Hamas security apparatus carried out a series of detentions of Salafist-jihadi operatives throughout the Gaza Strip, and in Rafah, the central Gaza Strip, Khan Yunis, Shejaiya and Sheikh Radwan in particular. To that end, Hamas-controlled security forces set up a large number of roadblocks and detained many jihadi operatives. Hamas security forces surrounded the Salafi Abu al-Baz Mosque in Beit Hanoun and detained a number of operatives. On Salafist-affiliated social networks, Salafists also reported the detention of three operatives in Al-Bureij and Nuseirat, and one operative in Khan Yunis (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, May 7, 2015).
  • In response to the detentions, Salafist-jihadi operatives in the Gaza Strip carried out a number of operations designed to hit Hamas sites:
  • On May 4, 2015, the security apparatus neutralized two IEDs planted in vehicles at the Shejaiya intersection, after the vehicle caught fire (Sama, May 4, 2015).
  • An IED exploded near an outpost of Hamas’s military wing west of Khan Yunis. A network calling itself the Organization of Supporters of the Islamic State in Greater Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the attack.[2] The organization warned the residents of the Gaza Strip not to approach security and military outposts (of Hamas) and called on them to join “the Nation of the Truthful” (Al-Minbar Forum, May 8, 2015).
  • The Organization of Supporters of the Islamic State in Greater Jerusalem claimed responsibility (May 8) for the firing of mortar shells at a Hamas outpost in Khan Yunis.
  • Iyad al-Bazm, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, said that public order and local security are being maintained despite “exceptional incidents” that have been taken care of by the security apparatus. He called on residents not to believe the exaggerated reports in the media and on social networks in particular (Iyad al-Bazm’s Facebook page, May 5, 2015). Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya denied the presence of ISIS operatives in the Gaza Strip. According to him, these are exaggerated reports in the media, since support for ISIS is minimal. He also denied that Hamas had exaggerated the meaning of the ISIS phenomenon in the Gaza Strip and insisted that a message be conveyed to certain Arab countries (i.e., Egypt and Saudi Arabia) (PNN, May 10, 2015).

The Global Jihad in Other Countries

Jordan

  • On May 7, 2015, an ISIS-affiliated forum posted an announcement stating that a group calling itself “The Lone Lions in the Ma’an province” had stolen a car and weapons from the Jordanian security forces in the city of Ma’an. The car was burned. As a result, there were clashes between them and the security forces, in which three members of the security forces were injured. According to the announcement, the Jordanian Crown Prince’s planned visit to Ma’an was canceled due to the incident (Al-Minbar al-I’lami al-Jihadi Forum, May 7, 2015). In late April 2015, the same group announced that it had attacked the military intelligence building in the city of Ma’an using small arms, injuring members of the Jordanian forces. The group posted photos showing the attack on the building and threatened to carry out more attacks (Al-Minbar al-Jihadi Forum, April 25, 2015).

3 From an ISIS-affiliated Twitter account

Left: From an ISIS-affiliated Twitter account: “Please remember: the Shahids Battalion of Ma’an in Jordan pledged allegiance to the Caliphate [of ISIS] around a year ago. This action [i.e., the theft of the vehicle] is the first by the soldiers of the Caliphate in the Ma’an province. Stay tuned” (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, May 7, 2015) Right: Burnt vehicle stolen by “The Lone Lions in the Ma’an province” (Jordan ZAD website, May 9, 2015).

  • The Mayor of Ma’an said that the search for the car thieves is still ongoing. He denied the report linking the thieves to radical Salafist organizations (Khaberni, May 8, 2015).

The city of Ma’an, in southern Jordan, is a longtime center of agitation against the Hashemite regime; other prominent cities are: Al-Salt, Irbid, Russeifa and Zarqa. In the past, there have been shows of support for ISIS in Ma’an, in the form of demonstrations of support and graffiti on the city streets. In the ITIC’s assessment, at this stage, these shows of support cannot impair the Jordanian regime control of Ma’an and its environs.

Yemen

A tape released by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has confirmed that Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, one of its senior operatives, was killed in an attack by an American drone in April 2015. The tape, which was posted on Twitter, calls Al-Ansi a shahid. According to documents found in the home of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Al-Ansi held a senior position in AQAP and also served as deputy head of Al-Qaeda, with spheres of responsibility that extended beyond Yemen. Al-Ansi recently made headlines in January 2015, when he officially announced that AQAP was responsible for the murder of the French journalists at the editorial offices of the weekly Charlie Hebdo (thelongwarjournal, May 7, 2015).

Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi is the third leader of AQAP killed in a targeted killing in recent months. In addition to Al-Ansi, Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari was killed in January 2015 in an attack by a drone, and Ibrahim Rubaish, a former Guantanamo prisoner, was killed in a US attack in April 2015.

Nigeria

  • On May 6, 2015, ISIS’s branch in Yemen released a video including an audio recording in which a spokesman on behalf of the jihadi fighters in Nigeria pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Later in the video, a masked man, speaking on behalf of ISIS’s branch in Yemen, congratulates the “Nigerian brothers” for taking this step (archive.org file sharing website, May 6, 2015).

4 The soldiers of the West African province

Left: The Twitter posting: “The soldiers of the West African province attacked a trade college in Nigeria” (ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, May 8, 2015) Right: A spokesman for ISIS in Yemen congratulates the “brothers in Nigeria” for their pledge of allegiance to the leader of ISIS’s Islamic State, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi (archive.org file sharing website, May 6, 2015)

  • Two days after the pledge was announced, on May 8, 2015, a terrorist attack was carried out in the city of Potiskum in northeastern Nigeria: Three terrorists, one of whom was wearing an explosive belt, opened fire at the trade college in the city. The terrorist with the explosive belt blew himself up in the college parking lot, seriously wounding six students. The other two terrorists were detained. A Twitter account affiliated with ISIS’s branch in West Africa reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack (Facebook page of the Nigerian police force, May 8, 2015; ISIS-affiliated Twitter account, May 8, 2015).

Algeria

  • On May 9, 2015, an Islamic network in the Skikda region of Algeria announced that it was leaving Al-Qaeda and joining ISIS. The network pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and adopted the name Caliphate Supporters Battalion” [Katibat Ansar al-Khilafah] (justpaste.it file sharing website, May 9, 2015).

The United States

  • On May 3, 2015, two armed men drove up to the western entrance of the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where the American Freedom Initiative was holding a contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. The two armed men, who arrived shortly before the end of the event, parked their car and emerged wearing bulletproof vests and armed with assault rifles. Upon their arrival, two security officers got out of a police car parked nearby. The two armed men opened fire at them. One of the security officers was wounded. The other fired at the two armed men and killed them (The Guardian, May 5, 2015).
  • The two armed men were Elton Simpson, 31, and Nadur Soofi, 34, who lived together in Phoenix, Arizona. Simpson was in contact through Twitter with a British ISIS operative in Syria codenamed Abu Hassan the Briton and an American operative named Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, who had been living in Somalia since 2008. The US authorities also suspect another person, by the name of Junaid Hussain, a British hacker affiliated with ISIS who apparently played a key role in the operation (CNN, May 6, 2015).
  • In a message on its radio station (Radio al-Bayan), ISIS claimed responsibility for the so-called lone wolf terrorist attack. ISIS also warned that it would kill more Christians in America in the future, and that the next attack would be worse (shoebat.com, May 6, 2015).

Counterterrorism and Preventive Activity

India

  • According to reports, in April 2015,five male operatives in an ISIS-affiliated jihadi network were detained in the city of Ratlam, India. The network was planning to carry out attacks in India. Chemicals allegedly intended for manufacturing explosives were found in the possession of the network’s leader, Imran Khan Mohammad Sharif. Imran Khan was apparently recruited through social networks and Islamic forums that support ISIS, headed by a jihadi operative codenamed Yussuf, who probably heads a group of Indians who are fighting alongside ISIS in Syria.

North Africa

  • Algeria revealed encrypted correspondence on Twitter between ISIS Spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, Abu Aisha the Tunisian, and commanders of the Supporters of Sharia organization. The subject of the correspondence was the preparations for sending hundreds of trained operatives (originally from Iraq and Syria) from Tunisia to Algeria.

SOURCE: ITIC    DOWNLOAD PDF

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[1]The weekly publication Spotlight on Global Jihad monitors developments among ISIS and global jihad organizations in Syria and Iraq and in the Middle East as a whole. The publication also monitors terrorist activities around the world, directed, supported or inspired by the global jihad organizations in the Middle East.
[2] The network calling itself the “Organization of Supporters of the Islamic State in Greater Jerusalem” is a Salafist-jihadi network in the Gaza Strip that also issued the ultimatum to free the Salafist detainees in response to the detentions carried out by the Hamas security forces.

 

 

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