Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – November 2018

November 18

On a global level, a number of images and publications were posted throughout jihadist online messaging groups calling for attacks on symbols of Christianity, including Christmas festivities, as well as calling for followers to kill the Pope. While it may inspire lone-wolf attacks, a major militant attack targeting Christian institutions in the West remains less likely.

In Africa, IS related assassinations grew to over 20 percent of the total number of assassinations in Somalia, while the group bolstered its presence in the capital Mogadishu, taxing businesses within the capital, while the assassination of the group’s deputy leader might suggest an upcoming split in its ranks. Meanwhile, Boko Haram released a video depicting its leader Abubakar Shekau taunting the government of Nigeria and claiming several attacks, in a bid to showcase the group’s relevance. Lastly, ISWAP claimed the assassination of a “spy” in Maroua, Cameroon, representing a threat in an area it so far did not operate in, and challenging Shekau’s authority in the area.

In Asia, a prison riot in Tajikistan drew attention from IS-linked media sources, which may instigate greater local radicalization in the near term. In Australia, a lone-wolf attack in Melbourne speaks to the capacity for decentralized groups of sympathizers on messaging platforms to influence plots, despite IS Central’s decreasing focus on the country. Militant groups’ condemnation of a blasphemy verdict in Pakistan indicates an attempt to align with populist sentiments. Finally, in India, a growing trend of increased ties between jihadists and Kashmiri students residing across the country was observed.

In Europe, a number of German jihadists who had gone to fight in Syria were featured in a series of online magazines and publications calling for German Muslims to travel to the Middle East and join the Islamic State (IS). This tactic was likely intended to bolster falling numbers of fighters in the Middle East, taking advantage of feelings of disenchantment among German Muslims, amid increasing political polarization. In Russia, further IS-linked arrests and attempted attacks are likely as the winter period approaches, with locally racialized cells made up of Central Asian migrants the most likely culprits to carry out attacks in major cities. In Spain, authorities uncovered a radical jihadist cell that spanned a number of prisons. The discovery illustrates the continuing threat of radicalization in prisons in Western Europe and could see an increase in prison based Islamist organizations going forward.

In the Middle East and North Africa, an Islamic State (IS) attack in Libya highlights the group’s effort to increase its profile in the country, while a suicide bombing conducted in Tunisia’s capital underscores the latent threat posed by the large numbers of jihadist supporters present in the country. In Syria, IS reverted to mass-abductions of civilians in order to delay its impending complete loss of territory. Lastly, in Yemen, the competition between al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local IS-affiliate culminated with the first formal IS statement on attacks conducted against the rival jihadist group in the country.