Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – December 2018

December 18

On a global level, the arrest of an individual who was slated to be attempting to carry out an attack targeting a synagogue in Ohio, USA, after being radicalized online. The man was also said to have been inspired by both the Islamic State (IS) group and the man shot the Pittsburg synagogue, who was staunchly right wing. This underscores the complexions of online radicalization and the extent to which militant ideology may not be static, but rather fluid.

In Africa, the Islamic State (IS) in Somalia issued a statement vowing to conduct revenge attacks against al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab, which has used its intelligence services to assassinate IS members. In northern Nigeria, IS’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) has escalated its activity in recent months, likely linked to the death of one of its leaders by his own commanders, and this could also be linked to a resurgence of Boko Haram activity in the same area. Finally, in West Africa, France announced that they had killed Amadou Kouffa, one of the founders of the al-Qaeda coalition Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM) in an airstrike, which could have an effect on the recruitment of ethnic Fulanis and JNIM’s operations in central Mali.

In Asia, Taliban attacks in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul appear aimed at projecting strength to offset losses in their stronghold of Helmand. In India, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Kashmir, Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, released guidelines for its fighters, while cross-border groups, such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, sought to capitalize on inter-religious tensions. Meanwhile, Hizbul Ahrar continued to expand its operations in major cities in Pakistan, such as Karachi and Rawalpindi, with a likely aim to establish a concrete organizational structure across the country.

In Europe and the Americas, attempts by IS-linked groups to encourage attacks in France during the Yellow Vests protest came to fruition with the attack in Strasbourg, with more likely to follow suite. Similarly, the possibility of lone-wolf stabbing attacks was illustrated as an ongoing threat in Denmark and Germany towards the holiday period. More attempted chemical attacks were foiled in Italy. IS called for attacks in the US over the holiday period.

In the Middle East and North Africa, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) released a video depicting its conflict with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russia, as well as portraying Turkish-backed rebels as traitors, in an effort to bolster morale ahead of the impending pro-government Idlib offensive. The Islamic State (IS)-affiliated Wilayat Sinai similarly released a video that mainly focused on defectors from Egyptian security forces who joined the ranks of the group, portraying joining the jihadist group as the only alternative to the “corrupt” government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Lastly, Ansar al-Furqan conducted a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) attack in Iran’s Chabahar, which along with the claim that was subsequently released, aims at reestablishing the group’s relevance and influence in the Baluchi militant landscape.