Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – October 2018

October 18

In Africa, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against an Italian military convoy in Mogadishu, one of the first incidents in which European soldiers have been deliberately targeted by the group. In the Lake Chad region, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) continued its trend of increased attacks as well as publications highlighting their operations in northeastern Nigeria as well as, notably, an incident targeting a Chadian military outpost in Chad’s Lac Region. Finally, in West Africa, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam waal Muslimeen (JNIM) released a video emphasizing their role within al-Qaeda and as a key participant in the war between Islam and the West, also drawing attention to a sophisticated attack on a UN-French base in Mali meant to reinforce their image in the Sahel.

In Asia, the Taliban’s statement against Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections in October may presage a scaleup of its offensives to reiterate its opposition to the process over the coming weeks and months. In Pakistan, competition between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its extended splinter group, the Hizbul Ahrar, is likely based on the latter’s fast-growing expansion of operations nationwide. Finally, in the Philippines, recent IS claims reveal a renewed focus on attacks on civilian centers in the country’s southern region.

In Europe and the Americas, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) decried the West insulting the Prophet Muhammad, praised Charlie Hebdo attackers, and called for further attacks in Europe in response to the perceived insult. Particularly, the group called on radicals from the Indian Subcontinent living in Europe to attack EU states, especially the Netherlands. This came following calls by far-right Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, for Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest.  In France, a series of lone wolf stabbings, particularly in the south, indicates that previous IS calls for an increase in attacks in the West are being responded too. Particularly, members of the country’s Moroccan community appear to me most at risk to radicalization. In Russia, IS-linked cells in the North Caucasus increased their operations targeting security forces following a lull in attacks during the World Cup period. A number of these incidents were claimed by the Islamic State or IS-linked media outlets, further underscoring the importance of Chechnya, Dagestan, and the general North Caucasus region for the jihadist group.

In the Middle East and North Africa, Jund al-Islam, an al-Qaeda linked group based in Egypt’s North Sinai, released a video on September 11 focusing mainly on portraying heads of Arab states, and specifically of Egypt, as enemies of Islam. The content of the video, along with its symbolic release date, is aimed at garnering notoriety amid the shifting Jihadi landscape due to the overall decline in power of the Islamic State (IS). Meanwhile, following the September 22 attack in Iran’s Ahwaz City, IS released several publications, including most notably an audio recording by the group’s spokesperson, claiming responsibility for the attack. The characteristics of the attack, along with the rhetoric in IS’s publications, seek to exacerbate ethnic tensions between the local Sunni-Arab Ahwazi minority and the Shiite-Persian majority, in order to set the conditions that will allow IS to increase its influence in the Ahwaz region.