Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – February 2020
In the Americas, reports of an al-Qaeda cell attempting to enter the US through Venezuela and its porous border with Colombia, underscore the militant-criminal nexus and potential for militant groups to look to further use this route going forward. The al-Qaeda claiming of the Pensacola shooting in Florida reflects renewed reorientation of the group’s continental strategy, as well as a shift in modus operandi.
In Asia, the deaths of major Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leaders may presage a potential gain for rival groups such as the Hizbul Ahrar in terms of recruitment. In the Maldives, a rare attack on tourists by local Islamic State (IS) sympathizers highlights the significant potential for radicalization in the country. In India, claims by IS Hind Province in Kashmir are more intended to project strength, as opposed to being reflective of their current capabilities.
In Europe, the militant arrests in Brest, France were highly notable due to the cell looking to target high-casualty targets, as well as planning to attack the Brest Arsenal military installation. In the UK, the stabbing on Streatham High Road illustrated the risk of copy-cat attacks in the country, which are likely to be reported on by IS-linked media groups. Further such stabbings are likely to occur intermittently in the coming months.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the Islamic State (IS) conducted a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) attack in southern Algeria and published the attack in three platforms in an effort to project the group’s expansion into additional areas in the region. In Egypt, IS’s Wilayat Sinai claimed an attack against a gas pipeline connecting Israel and Egypt following a call by IS Spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qarayshi’s to “attack the Jews and their interests”. In Iraq, IS’s Wilayat Salahuddin released a video aimed at projecting the group’s continuity and belligerence towards all different security forces in Iraq.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, al-Shabaab released a document to claim that there were fewer civilian casualties of a large SVBIED attack in Mogadishu than the media claims, while reports have emerged suggesting divisions within the militant group over the acceptability of attacking soft targets. In Nigeria, the long-dormant ‘Ansaru’ linked to al-Qaeda has re-emerged with official claims of two incidents in Kaduna State, which threatens to open a new jihadist front in the country. Finally, in the Sahel, a small group of militants in Mali’s Segou Region publicly pledged allegiance to IS, which was notable given that this area has been the domain of al-Qaeda’s Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM).