Long War Journal & Threat Matrix

CENTCOM: Three senior Islamic State foreign fighters killed

CENTCOM announced today that "three senior foreign fighters" in the Islamic State were killed in recent weeks. Two of them were reportedly involved in the group's "external operations" and one of them was a trainer in the "Cubs of the Caliphate" program, which indoctrinates youth. The third jihadist helped oversee the Islamic State's use of small drones. Read more →

Taliban assaults Afghan Army bases in Kandahar

Taliban fighters overran a large military base earlier this week, and launched attacks on other installations throughout the province. The fighting in Kandahar takes place as the Taliban remains on the offensive on several fronts throughout the country as part of Operation Mansouri. Read more →

Analysis: UK investigating possible ‘network’ behind Manchester attack

International authorities are investigating the possibility that a "network" assisted Salman Abedi in the Manchester Arena bombing earlier this week. The investigation stretches from the UK to Libya, where Abedi's younger brother and father have been detained. His brother, Hashim, has allegedly admitted prior knowledge of the plot and that the siblings were Islamic State members. Read more →

Al Qaeda criticizes Saudi relations with West during President Trump’s visit

Al Qaeda released an audio message from Hamza bin Laden and a news bulletin during President Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Hamza does not mention the American delegation, but he does criticize the Saudi family's historical dealings with the British. The one-page newsletter specifically addresses Trump's visit and claims that a new center for combating extremism in Riyadh will really be used "to fight faith, purity, and commitment." Read more →

The Revolutionary Guard’s long shadow over Iran’s presidential election

Iranians head to the polls today to choose between “bad and worse” in yet another unfair-and-unfree presidential election. The primary challenger, Ebrahim Raisi – who is considered a frontrunner to succeed Khamenei - has received the support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - the protector of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution who have long cast a dark shadow over the country. Read more →

Kenyan soldier held hostage since Jan. 2016 appears in Shabaab video

Shabaab, al Qaeda's branch in Somalia, has released a video of a Kenyan soldier who was captured during a Jan. 15, 2016 raid on an AMISOM base in El Adde. The UN found that approximately 150 Kenyan soldiers were killed in the attack and another 11 were taken hostage. The jihadists' attack in El Adde was "the largest military defeat in Kenyan history," according to the UN. Read more →

Tabqah, Syria liberated from the Islamic State

The city of Tabqah and the surrounding area have fallen to US-backed forces. The Islamic State had controlled the city, the Tabqah dam, and a military airbase in the area since 2013-2014. The battle for Tabqah, which began with a surprise attack on Mar. 22, is a key part of the strategy to capture the self-declared caliphate's capital of Raqqa. Read more →

AQAP leader calls for ‘simple’ attacks in the West

In a short video released yesterday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) leader, Qasim al Raymi, reiterated his group's call for "lone mujahid" attacks in the West. AQAP was an early innovator of the concept of "individual jihad," but has been eclipsed by its rivals in the Islamic State in recent years. Raymi is attempting to move AQAP back to the fore of the "lone mujahid" effort. Read more →

Islamic State suicide bomber strikes NATO convoy in Kabul

The Islamic State's Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan "province") has claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed at least eight civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier today. The suicide attack targeted a NATO convoy that was driving near the US Embassy in Afghanistan's capital. Three American servicemen were wounded in the blast. Read more →

AQAP leader discusses complex war in Yemen

AQAP released a lengthy "dialogue" with its emir, Qasim al Raymi, on April 30. Raymi discusses the complex war inside Yemen, AQAP's desire to focus on the Houthis and his group's general approach to waging jihad. He also cites a text written by Ayman al Zawahiri to explain why AQAP cooperates with other Islamists inside Yemen. Read more →

Taliban and Islamic State clash in eastern Afghanistan

The Islamic State's Wilayah Khorasan and the Taliban clashed in the Chaparhar district of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province earlier today. The two sides have battled each other in the area since 2015. Late last month, the Islamic State also fought with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and assassinated a Taliban figure in Peshawar. Read more →

Taliban announces start of ‘Operation Mansouri’

This year's "spring offensive" is named after Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the previous emir who was killed by the US in a drone strike in Pakistan in May 2016. As in previous years, the Taliban said the main focus of its operation is the targeting of both foreign and local forces. Read more →