Long War Journal & Threat Matrix

Pentagon: Airstrikes kill 20 or more al Qaeda fighters in northern Syria

The Pentagon is still assessing the results of airstrikes on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 in northern Syria, but it is believed that 20 al Qaeda "militants" were killed in the bombings. The airstrikes are likely among the most significant carried out against al Qaeda in Syria since Sept. 2014. President Obama reportedly authorized a more robust air campaign against al Qaeda in Syria late last year, after the administration had previously defined down the threat. Read more →

Russia’s new favorite jihadis: The Taliban

Russia is openly advocating on behalf of the Taliban, arguing that the jihadist group should be considered a bulwark against the Islamic State's branch in Afghanistan. But the Taliban is a bigger threat to Afghan security than Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's men, the organization remains closely allied with al Qaeda and its own extremism should not be downplayed. Read more →

Attack on Berlin Christmas market claimed by Islamic State

The Islamic State's Amaq News Agency has released a short statement claiming responsibility for the assault on a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany yesterday. Twelve people were killed and dozens more injured when a lorry was rammed into the market. Two attacks in Germany earlier this year were "remote-controlled" by the group's digital operatives. Read more →

IRGC officers killed in Palmyra

As the Islamic State has taken the ancient city of Palmyra and battle rages on in the outskirts for T4 military air base, two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers have been announced killed in Palmyra. IRGC-backed Fatemiyoun Division have fought in the area, augmenting Syrian forces backed by Russian air power. Read more →

Jihadis celebrate capture of Russian base in Palmyra, Syria

The Islamic State's Amaq News Agency claims that 352 men from the Syrian Army and allied Shiite militias were killed during four days of fighting in and around Palmyra. In addition, the group claims to have recovered a significant amount of "spoils," namely tanks and various weapons. A video recorded inside a base formerly used by Russians documents some of this war booty. Read more →

US confirms death of high-profile Tunisian Islamic State assassin

The Defense Department has confirmed that Boubaker al-Hakim, a French-Tunisian Islamic State leader, was killed in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 26. Al-Hakim had ties to Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, before defecting to the Islamic State's cause. He admittedly assassinated one Tunisian politician in 2013 and knew the assailants responsible for a second slaying. Read more →

Islamic State assaults Syrian regime forces in Homs province

The Islamic State launched an assault on Syrian regime positions in the Homs province earlier today. The so-called caliphate's propaganda arm and other outlets report that Syrian government forces suffered dozens of casualties. Bashar al Assad's men and their allies recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra in March. The two sides have repeatedly clashed in Homs, including near Palmyra, since then. Read more →

Pentagon: Islamic State has lost its safe haven in Sirte, Libya

The Pentagon announced today that the Islamic State no longer controls any part of Sirte, Libya. The ground campaign to liberate the city began more than six months ago and the US has launched 495 airstrikes in support of the operation. The Islamic State's "governor" in Libya vows to fight on, saying that his men have spread out across the country. Read more →

US Treasury continues to target AQAP’s financial network

The US Treasury Department announced the designations of two "key facilitators" for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) today. A charity that is really a "front organization" for AQAP and has collected funds from Gulf businessmen was also designated. Treasury has systematically targeted AQAP's support network throughout the year and today's announcement is part of a series of related moves. Read more →