Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – July 2020
In the Americas, both al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) linked media outlets have released online propaganda related to the ongoing unrest in the USA. However, the tone and messages differ drastically, likely reflecting the varying status and capabilities of the two groups with regards to recruitment and ability to incite attacks within the USA.
In Asia, The Resistance Front, a newly-formed militant group in India’s Kashmir region, continued its propaganda outreach with the aim of emphasizing its purported indigenous roots. In Pakistan, the high-profile attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi showed the continued operational confidence of the Balochistan Liberation Army’s Bashir Zeb faction.
In Europe, the arrest of two individuals in Paris on charges of attempting to use an established people-smuggling network to bring jihadists into the country and the seizure of over one million EUR worth of drugs in Italy supplied by IS show the continuing criminal-militant nexus within Europe. Furthermore, these incidents, along with a stabbing attack in the UK, demonstrate the impact COVID-19-related restrictions have had on militant funding and recruitment within Europe.
In the Middle East & North Africa, in Syria, al-Qaeda released on June 24 a four-page document titled, “escalation by HTS against Stand Firm Operations Room”, which called for a de-escalation and jihadist unity. This is likely part of an effort by al-Qaeda to bolster the profile of the “Stand Firm” Operations Room and undermine HTS in Idlib Province. In Egypt, IS claimed in its weekly newsletter that was released on July 2, that IS-affiliated Wilayat Sinai militants conducted an attack against “the last remnants” of al-Qaeda-affiliated Jund al-Islam in North Sinai. This event is highly notable given the absence of indications of Jund al-Islam activity and presence in the region in recent years.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, IS released a prominent editorial in its weekly magazine that directly threatened Western oil interests in Mozambique for the first time, potentially indicating a shift in their strategy in the region. In the Lake Chad basin, several notable attacks in Nigeria indicate that IS’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) is increasingly targeting civilians as unconfirmed leadership changes appear to have made factions of the group more extreme. In the Sahel, al-Qaeda’s Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM) released videos and claims that display its continued effectiveness in northern and central Mali.