Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – November 2019
From a global perspective, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death on October 26, while a symbolic achievement for anti-militant operations, will likely not significantly alter conditions on the ground, due to the already decentralized operations of the Islamic State (IS) affiliates and the fact that the new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, has received pledges of allegiance from many IS groups throughout the world.
In the Americas, IS supporters’ propaganda groups particularly focused on the US following the death of former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This saw threats to President Donald Trump specifically, as well as more general threats claiming that the new era of IS would be worse than what they had seen under Baghdadi. However, based on current capabilities in the country, the threat level is not significantly increased.
In Asia, the Taliban’s operational push in Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province signals an attempt to offset strategic losses of a key district in the broader area. In India, separatist militants’ plots against non-local civilians and security forces in J&K are expected to increase over the coming term in tandem with reduced security curbs. Finally, in the Philippines, the ongoing trend of increased IS-linked messaging and plots over the Bangsamoro Organic Law will likely sustain in the next few weeks, in a bid to take advantage of elevated disaffection across Mindanao over the matter.
In Europe, an attack targeting an Ingush anti-extremism officer in Moscow, Russia highlights the extent to which North Caucasian militant groups can operate in the Russian capital. The threat in Moscow was also underscored by the arrest of Kyrgyz radical. In Switzerland, nationwide security operations point to the uncovering of militant cells engaged in the radicalization of youth mostly using online propaganda and local imams. In the UK, an IS supporter was charged with planning a bombing attack on St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel in London.
In the Middle East and North Africa, an al-Qaeda-linked group claimed an attack in northern Iraq in an effort to undermine IS at a time the latter is perceived to be vulnerable. In Egypt and Syria, local affiliates of IS pledged their allegiance to the group’s new “Caliph”, reinforcing the assessment that the killing of al-Baghdadi will not lead to significant changes on the ground in the immediate term.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, al-Shabaab’s Abu Ubaidah notably made his first appearance in a propaganda video since he became emir over five years ago, emphasizing a message of defending Somalia against the US, likely a response to an escalated US air campaign. In Nigeria, al-Qaeda reintroduced the Ansaru militant group for the first time in several years, raising potential for new attacks in the northwest. At the same time, IS’s West Africa Province claimed its first attack in northwestern Nigeria as IS in the Sahel spreads eastward. Moreover, IS in the Sahel conducted a high-casualty, high-profile attack on a Malian military base that exemplifies their increased capabilities over the past year.