The US military announced today that a senior Islamic State propagandist, Ibrahim al-Ansari, was killed in an airstrike in Al-Qaim, Iraq on Mar. 25. Al-Ansari “was a leader in producing and disseminating propaganda to direct, encourage and instruct terror attacks, as well as to recruit foreign terrorist fighters,” a US military spokesman said. Al-Ansari also “promoted terror attacks against US and Turkish citizens” and was responsible for “the brainwashing of young children to perpetuate ISIS’s brutal message.”
The Pentagon’s desire to actively target Shabaab reflects the growing concern that al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa is gaining strength despite the presence of both AMISOM and US forces.
Anjem Choudary, the British Islamist who is directly linked to Omar Bakri Muhammad, and who has formed several radical Islamist organizations, such as Al Muhajiroun, Al Ghurabaa, and Islam4UK, is among the newly designated terrorists.
“With this important victory, the Mujahideen have opened up operational lines between Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces and can throw its brunt at a time and place of its choosing,” the Taliban claimed.
An ethnic Nogai group from the North Caucasus recently showed some of its fighters training in northern Syria. A group of the same name exists in the Caucasus Emirate, but it remains to be seen if this the same unit.
Iranian authorities have confirmed that at least two Iranians were killed in combat in Syria’s Hama province. Pro-Assad regime forces have been fighting a major insurgent offensive that was launched by a number of groups in Hama earlier this month.
While the report may be seen as a propaganda designed to bolster its claims of controlling territory, it does not inflate the Taliban’s control of districts centers and contested areas throughout the country. The Taliban also admits that there are large areas in Afghanistan where it has only a minimal presence.
The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, al Qaeda’s newly formed entity in West Africa, claimed a series of attacks today. One claim discussed its role in the recent communal violence between Fulani herders and Bambara farmers in central Mali.
The US Treasury Department designated Muhammad Hadi al-‘Anizi as an al Qaeda terrorist earlier this month. He was detained in Afghanistan in late 2001 at the age of 15. Al-‘Anizi was freed and thanked Kuwait’s leadership for his repatriation. He is now based in Kuwait.
The US military said Qari Yasin was responsible for the deaths of two US Marines in the Sept. 2008 suicide assault on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, and confirmed he was killed in Paktika province.
The Tehran-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba announced today that it is joining pro-Syrian regime forces in Hama province. Insurgents launched a massive offensive in the northern countryside of Hama earlier in the week.
Jihadists, Islamists and rebel groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a new offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in northern Hama province earlier this week. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria, is playing a prominent role in the fighting, dispatching several suicide bombers and its “special forces.” Upwards of 10 or more FSA-branded groups are participating as well.
The Tehran-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba has announced its participation in a battle raging east of Damascus, joining regime forces in the Jobar and Abbasin districts.
Last night, the Taliban, after months of heavy fighting in Sangin in Helmand province, took control of the district center. Yet, Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, is attempting to claim victory.
Amaq News Agency claims that the terrorist who launched an attack in London yesterday was the Islamic State’s “soldier.” The UK Metropolitan Police have identified him as Khalid Masood, a 52 year-old man who was born in Kent.
Skeptics scoffed. But al Qaeda has been devising ingenious ways to blow up planes for years.
Afghan forces withdrew from Sangin’s district center, then bombs government buildings, military bases, and the police headquarters. Seven of Helmand’s 14 districts are now under Taliban control.
Commander Yusuf Wazir, the slain Taliban leader, also lost a father and a brother in previous US drone strikes, according to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Three Taliban commanders are reported to have been killed in US drone strikes along the Afghan-Pakistani border since the beginning of March.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
The suicide bombing, which killed at least 10 people, occurred just 150 meters from Villa Somalia, Somalia’s presidential palace in Mogadishu.
The U.S. State Department on Friday announced the designation of two Bahraini nationals affiliated with Iran-backed militant group the Ashtar Brigades. The designation of the two individuals comes amidst repeated attempts by Tehran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to foment an insurgency against the rulers of the tiny island, who have launched a widespread crackdown on all Shiite opposition. Friday’s announcement signals a new tone in US policy towards Iran’s malign activities in the region.
The death of Qari Muhammad Yasin, an experienced Pakistani jihadist, has not been confirmed by the US or jihadists operating in the region. He was targeted in an area of Afghanistan known to serve as an al Qaeda safe haven.
Israel forcefully redraws its blurred red lines on Hezbollah weapons transfers via Syria.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), Ahrar al Sham, and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Faylaq al Rahman launched a surprise offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in Damascus yesterday. HTS, an al Qaeda front group, has been stepping up its attacks in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
One of the training facilities is in a contested district in Faryab province. The Taliban has publicized 12 camps since late 2014.
The shooting, which took place as US troops were training their Afghan counterparts on a base in Helmand province, is the first recorded insider attack since Oct. 2016.
Abu Jaber (also known as Hashem al Sheikh), the leader of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), has released a message commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Syrian revolution. He portrays HTS as a popular revolutionary force and calls on other rebel groups to join it for the sake of “unity.” He also promises to “escalate” operations against Bashar al Assad’s regime.
The Islamic State’s Ninawa province has released a video highlighting its use of improvised weapons of war in the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The weapons include: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) with armor attached, modified drones, and a remote-controlled rocket launcher. Children or young adolescents used as “martyrdom” bombers are also featured in the propaganda production.
Earlier this month, four al Qaeda groups in West Africa merged to form the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims.” Its constituent organizations launched more than 250 attacks across the region in 2016, a significant increase in the jihadists’ operational tempo from the previous year.
Hezbollah may have begun receiving weapons shipments at Palmyra’s T-4 airport in an attempt to avoid Israeli detection.