Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – May 2020
In Asia, the militant landscape in India’s Jammu & Kashmir saw the addition of a new group, although this appears to be a rebranding of existing separatist militants and does not constitute a heightened threat in itself. In Indonesia, increased activity by the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah reflects a desire to capitalize on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the related strain on the country’s security apparatus.
In Western Europe, arrests and attacks in France, Germany, and Spain reiterate the ongoing impact of Middle Eastern developments on Islamist militancy in Europe, with regional incidents inciting attacks and recruitment efforts. The ongoing lockdown measures related to COVID-19 appear to be leading to an increase in online propaganda from these groups surrounding such developments. In Poland, four Tajik nationals were arrested on charges of recruiting for Islamic State (IS), indicating a growing presence in Eastern Europe.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the Islamic State (IS) significantly increased its operations in Iraq and Syria since April, taking advantage of reduced security operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other local factors, as well as for symbolic purposes given the ongoing holy month of Ramadan. However, this surge of operations is unlikely to persist in the long term. In Egypt, IS-affiliated Wilayat Sinai increased its operations in North Sinai’s Bir al-Abd due to increasing constraints in the group’s traditional area of operations in the al-Arish-Sheikh Zuweid-Rafah triangle.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islamic State has increased its efforts in Mozambique as it shifts toward focusing its attacks on security forces. In the Lake Chad region, IS’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) maintained its efforts in Niger and Chad even as it seeks to entrench itself further in northern Nigeria, while Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released an audio message to dismiss rumors of surrender. In the Sahel, direct clashes took place between al-Qaeda’s Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM) and IS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), as ISGS accuses JNIM of collaborating with the French after the group said it was willing to engage in talks with the Malian government.