Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – July 2018

July 18

In Africa, recent months have seen the Islamic State (IS) increase its activity in Mogadishu in a departure from the group’s usual base of operations in northern Somalia, though this threat will remain minor compared to al-Shabaab. In the Lake Chad basin region, Abubakr Shekau’s Boko Haram released a video with an IS flag, suggesting that Shekau wishes to garner local IS support in the face of his recent losses. In Mali, IS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) released a video taunting pro-government groups, timed specifically ahead of the Malian elections, showing its awareness and interest in inserting itself in the wider political discourse.

In Asia, the month was marked by a partial ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government during the Eid-ul Fitr holidays, as both sides attempted to control the public narrative regarding its enforcement. In Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) leader’s death may presage a new phase for the group, led by tribal leadership. Finally, in Bangladesh, the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) released a claim for the killing of a secular activist, which could indicate a potential reorientation of the group’s targets.

In Europe and the Americas, July saw the arrest of a locally radicalized militant in the US’s Midwestern city of Cleveland, OH. The individual was allegedly helping give material support and planning to carry out an attack for al-Qaeda. The incident, in addition to a number of statements from al-Qaeda members, indicates that the group is looking to take a more prominent role in targeting the US and becoming one of the most significant anti-US militant groups globally. This is especially the case as IS continues to see a decreasing presence throughout the world, particularly in the West. Such a trend is likely to see further reports of arrests of al-Qaeda-linked individuals in the US going forward, many of whom may be attempting to plan larger, more sophisticated attacks than the low intensity, unsophisticated attacks which came to define IS operations in the US.

In the Middle East and North Africa, IS increased its activity against Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria, likely aiming to increase the motivation of its remaining fighters, as well as capitalize on growing discontent among the region’s Sunni Arabs. In Algeria, the number of militants surrendering to security forces rose for a number of reasons, chief among them pressure by the Algerian military that has diminished the profile of IS and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In Libya, IS released a video depicting recent attacks and interviews with suicide bombers, likely in an effort to project strength amidst its own losses and growing activity by other jihadist groups in Libya.