Global Terrorism Threat Analysis – September 2018
In Africa, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) released a high volume of publications to highlight their increased activity against the Nigerian military in Borno State, as they conducted several high-profile attacks, attempting to contrast their pace with that of Boko Haram. In East Africa, al-Shabaab released a video of a raid of a Somali special forces base interspersed with speeches by both al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda leaders from around the world, as the group continues to emphasize its position as one of the most successful al-Qaeda affiliates today.
In Asia, the month was marked by an IS-linked video release warning of reprisals against the government of Georgia for anti-militancy raids in November 2017. Meanwhile, an al-Qaeda-linked media outlet released a video showing Bangladeshi fighters engaging enemy targets in Afghanistan. This may be linked to the Taliban’s territorial gains and viewed as an acknowledgment of a recent message by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. Finally, in India, the uptick in transnational jihadist messaging in Kashmir may be an attempt to capitalize on the presently-elevated levels of militant recruitment in the state.
In Europe and the Americas, non-violent Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir called on local Muslims to boycott the Swedish general elections held on September 9, increasing concerns about self-imposed disenfranchisement among the community. Particularly, the group is likely attempting to create informal segregation between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, in an attempt to increase support for political Islam in the country.
In the Middle East and North Africa, as the Islamic State (IS) continues shaping itself in the aftermath of the “fall of the Caliphate”, all dozens of its Wilayas (administrative provinces) in Syria and Iraq had been consolidated under two names- “Iraq” and “as-Sham”, while Wilayat Bayda of Yemen is taking a more central role in IS media publications. This also led IS in Libya to adopt a more decentralized operational strategy, allowing it to strike targets in different parts of the country, making it appear as an omnipresent threat. Meanwhile, the US under the Trump administration continues its increased targeting of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) assets in Yemen, under the perception that these pose a rising threat to the West. Lastly, a failed suicide bombing targeting a Christian Coptic church in Cairo underscores the latent threat posed by IS in mainland Egypt.