The Islamic State demolished the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri earlier today. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi delivered his first speech as “Caliph Ibrahim” at the mosque in July 2014. Just days earlier, the Islamic State declared itself a so-called caliphate, ruling over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Two American soldiers were killed during a raid against the Islamic State in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. A third American perished during combat earlier this month. The Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province has lost ground since the beginning of 2016, but is still able to engage in heavy fighting and launch significant attacks.
The UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has released its investigative report on the Aug. 21, 2015 drone strike that killed UK national Reyaad Khan. The bombing was “the first time outside participation in a military campaign that the UK had conducted a lethal drone strike against a terrorist target.” Khan was one of the Islamic State’s most prolific cyber planners.
The Islamic State has claimed credit for bombings at two Coptic churches in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria earlier today. The attacks killed dozens of people and wounded approximately 100 others. The so-called caliphate has a history of targeting Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Libya.
The eighth edition of the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine features a cover story on Ahmad Abousamra, who was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List in 2013. Abousamra was the “chief editor” of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, and also one of al Qaeda’s fiercest rhetorical opponents. He described al Qaeda’s leaders and pro-al Qaeda ideologues as the “Jews of Jihad.”
The US Treasury Department and the UN have added two senior jihadists to their terror sanctions lists. Both of them were leaders in the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Treasury’s announcement provides new details about al Qaeda’s operations in Syria, including the organization’s history and personnel.
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 1,112 suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria during 2016. Additional suicide bombers were deployed in Libya and elsewhere. If the group’s claims are accurate, then the so-called caliphate has been using “martyrs” at a historically high rate.
The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Although the group had long been reticent to claim operations inside Turkey, both Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his new spokesman called for such attacks in November and December.