Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – July 2019
Globally, the Islamic State (IS) released a video series titled “The Best Outcome is for the Pious”, which showed groups of militants from across the globe renewing their pledge of allegiance to the group’s emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is consistent with the group’s growing decentralization into newer territories while seeking to retain a commitment to its central leadership in the process.
In Asia, an unprecedented video release by IS in Azerbaijan indicates the potential for the group to tap into local discontent with the government’s perceived suppression of religious practices in the country. In India, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s message on Kashmir is indicative of the continued interest from the group in the region, as well as greater coordination with its satellite, Ansar Ghazwatul Hind. Finally, a suicide bombing claimed by IS in the Philippines was likely timed with the recent propaganda push by the group, as local affiliates seek to reiterate their operational capabilities in the country’s south.
In Europe, a video was released with German subtitles calling for individuals outside of the Middle East to send money to those still operating with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, underscoring the role that European Islamists play in facilitating the logistics of jihad. In Russia, an attempted attack in Chechnya was claimed as an attack on the regional Head Ramzan Kadyrov, with IS attempting to show their power in the region, despite successful security operations in the region. With regards to Spain, the inclusion of the Spanish language into IS’ global campaign is likely to galvanize militant sympathizers and potentially lead to an uptick in arrests on the Iberian Peninsula during summer.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the US conducted an airstrike in Syria targeting a meeting of senior Hurras al-Din members, which the US referred to as “al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) leadership”, highlighting US concerns of the global threat the group may pose. In Tunisia, three suicide bombings were conducted in Tunis over a span of a week, likely by a local cell that nonetheless had some connection to the Islamic State (IS), highlighting the threat posed by both a large population that is disenfranchised and susceptible to radicalization, and a large number of veteran Jihadis returning from Syria, Libya and Iraq. Lastly, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) released a video featuring a group of “Soldiers of the Caliphate in Iran”, underscoring the operational capability of the group in the Islamic Republic.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islamic State (IS) highlighted its operations in Somalia in its weekly al-Naba newsletter, thus strengthening the links between IS affiliates in Somalia and the group’s central command. In Central Africa, IS’s Central African Province notably claimed responsibility for its second attack involving an IED in DRC, highlighting its growing operational capabilities for which security forces may prove to be ill-equipped. While IS maintained a sustained level of activity aimed at consolidating territorial control in the Lake Chad Region, in West Africa, the group claimed a sophisticated attack involving a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) in Niger’s Tillaberi Region.