Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – August 2020

August 20

In the Americas, Islamic State (IS) related media released a video targeting potential sympathizers in the West, specifically English speakers. The video lists various attack methods and rates their preferability. The video indicates a continued move towards more rudimentary but high impact attack methods, such as targeted arsons and vehicular rammings.

In Asia, an IS assault on a prison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan likely acts as a precursor to further high-visibility operations aimed at showcasing a presence, dispelling claims of the group’s declining power. In Bangladesh, IS’ recent claims likely reflect a desire to increase visibility ahead of Eid-al-Adha.

In Europe, the re-arrest of a previously convicted and jailed member of an Islamist militant organization in the Netherlands reiterates the threat posed by such individuals even after being released and highlights gaps in the prison and deradicalization programs across the region. In Russia, the FSB foiled two supposedly imminent attacks, indicating a possible uptick in activity both on the part of militants and the security forces after a lull, likely related to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

In the Middle East & North Africa, the Syria-based Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) released a short video titled “Visiting an [Internally Displaced Person] IDP Camp To Look Into Their Requests and Meet Them” on August 1, which aims to reinforce the perception of the group as a legitimate governing authority. In Egypt, the IS-affiliated Wilayat Sinai reportedly captured, at least temporarily, four villages in the North Sinai Governorate, constituting the first time the group was able to assert control over a populated area in North Sinai in recent years.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, al-Shabaab condemned US airstrikes and sought to use it to sway civilians to support them in Somalia. In the Lake Chad region, changes to IS’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) leadership was notable as the group continues to consolidate and conduct attacks in all four countries. In northwestern Nigeria, Ansaru notably issued its third claim of the year while Boko Haram released further propaganda to solidify their new and growing presence in this part of the country. Finally, in Mali, IS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and al-Qaeda’s Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM) continue to directly clash while ISGS seeks to portray JNIM as “apostates”.