Note: On September 30, 2021, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing titled, “To receive testimony on Afghanistan.” You can watch a recording of the hearing here, and you can read his full written testimony here. An excerpt, without footnotes, is below. Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Inhofe, members of the […]
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s assault on a memorial service held in honor of Abdul Ali Mazari, a Hazara political leader killed in 1995. The group’s Khorasan arm assaulted the same memorial rally last year.
On Sept. 19, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at a hearing titled, “The Trump Administration’s Afghanistan Policy.” His testimony focused on the close working relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
In a message released earlier this month, Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi, a US-designated terrorist, called for sharia governance in Algeria. Al-Anabi is a senior Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb religious figure and has led the group’s “Council of Notables.”
The State Department announced today that it is offering a $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden’s whereabouts. Hamza is the genetic and ideological heir of al Qaeda’s founder and he has been groomed for a leadership position within the organization.
Islamic State West Africa reportedly seized the town of Baga in northeastern Nigeria earlier this week. The Nigerian military downplayed the jihadis’ advances, but it appears that ISWA seized the town, at least temporarily. And ISWA documented its spoils in a series of images released today.
Al Qaeda’s As Sahab has released an essay blasting Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US. The essay’s author, identified as Sheikh Awab Bin Hasan al Hasni, portrays America as a declining power and touts the resurrection of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. AQAP also finally released the 58th issue of Al Masra newsletter, which focuses on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
The US State Department has designated Hajji ‘Abd al-Nasir, a senior Islamic State official, as a terrorist. The US government says al-Nasri has served in “several leadership positions,” including as the group’s military emir in Syria and the “chair” of the Islamic State’s delegated committee.
In October, a new military operations room, named “Incite the Believers,” began attacking Assad regime positions in a number of locations. The joint venture is comprised of at least three groups: “Guardians of Religion,” Ansar al-Din and Ansar al-Islam.
The Islamic State warns Shabaab that it will respond to the group’s campaign targeting Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists in Somalia. Shabaab has been executing and arresting defectors who join the Islamic State since 2015. But the al Qaeda branch has stepped up its anti-Islamic State operations again in recent weeks.
Since early September, the US has issued terrorist designations for Islamic State moneymen operating around the globe, from the Caribbean to East Africa. The designations highlight the diverse sources the so-called caliphate uses to fund its insurgency and terrorist operations.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), the most powerful jihadist organization in Idlib province, has finally issued a statement addressing the agreement reached between Turkey and Russia last month. HTS vows to continue waging jihad, and warns that it doesn’t trust Russia’s “intentions,” but does not directly repudiate the Sochi accord.
The US wants the Taliban to lay down its arms and recognize the legitimacy of the Afghan government. The State Department has even encouraged the group to “turn their bullets and bombs into ballots” and “vote.” But in a new statement, the Taliban again rejects Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections, saying it is a “demand of our faith” that they be “prevented from taking place.”
The Libyan National Army (LNA) claims to have captured Hisham al-Ashmawy, a former Egyptian officer who defected to the jihadists’ cause. Ashmawy has been accused of orchestrating jihadist operations in both Egypt and Libya. The Egyptian government alleges that he has been involved in a series of terrorist attacks targeting officials.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has released a new video that includes the testimony of several “spies” who have allegedly helped the Saudis and Americans hunt down the group’s members. There are reasons to be skeptical of AQAP’s claims, but the organization is clearly concerned that spies will do more damage to its hierarchy.
On Aug. 24, the US Treasury Department designated three Islamic State recruiters as terrorists. The trio appeared in a June 2016 beheading video that was used to recruit fighters from Southeast Asia. The new designation is the latest in a series of moves taken by the US government to target the Islamic State’s global network with financial sanctions and other measures.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on a school for midwives in Jalalabad, Afghanistan yesterday, saying the target was a headquarters for USAID. Despite a focused, US-led counterterrorism campaign against Wilayah Khorasan in Nangarhar, the group retains an operational footprint in eastern Afghanistan.
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) announced yesterday (July 24) that six Islamic State operatives were killed in targeted strikes since April. The jihadists had allegedly plotted attacks inside Saudi Arabia and Sweden, as well as against the US and American interests.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that struck near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul only minutes after Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum passed through the area.
The Islamic State has targeted key jihadist and Islamist leaders in Idlib province in recent weeks. The so-called caliphate’s assassination campaign has focused on prominent figures in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), as well as other groups.
Ansar al-Islam raided an Assad regime military position in the Latakia province yesterday, killing more than two dozen Assad loyalists. The attack was widely celebrated on Sunni jihadist social media channels. Ansar al-Islam is a small jihadist group that originated in Iraq, but has fought in Syria for years.
The Islamic State claimed a suicide bombing that targeted the Assad regime and Russian forces in southern Syria yesterday. The group claims that 50 people were killed or wounded, while a pro-regime source reported “scores” of casualties. The operation was conducted by a jihadist dispatched by a new Islamic State “province,” but the group has operated in the area for years under another brand.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in Afghanistan and Syria has long operated as part of the Taliban-al Qaeda axis. Earlier this year, however, the TIP’s Syrian branch sided with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) during its battles with other rebel groups. This infighting and related events have complicated the picture with respect to the TIP in Syria. One TIP-affiliated outlet claimed earlier this year that the group’s senior management had sent new leadership from Afghanistan to Syria.
The Islamic State announced today that Hudhayfah al-Badri, the son of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has been killed during a raid on Syrian and Russian forces in Homs province. Al-Badri’s death was announced via a graphic that is part of the Islamic State’s “Caravan of the Martyrs” series, which has featured deceased jihadists from around the globe. The so-called caliphate has offered few details concerning al-Badri’s purported death.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) and its jihadist rivals in the “Guardians of Religion” organization have called on all Muslims to resist the Assad regime’s new offensive in southern Syria. However, severe infighting has limited the jihadists’ ability to launch sustained operations against the Assad regime and its allies.
Combined Joint Force Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) announced today that four members of the Islamic State’s illicit gas and oil network were killed during “operations” on May 26. They were targeted in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. Separately, CJTF-OIR’s local partners seized and destroyed $1.4 million dollars worth of drugs from the so-called caliphate in southern Syria.
On May 23, Al-Badr Media Foundation announced its presence online, saying it will work to serve the interests of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its supporters in several ways. AQAP remains under pressure and its media output has been degraded by a US-led campaign. Al-Badr is AQAP’s latest attempt to improve the group’s security measures and boost fighter morale.
Al Qaeda has released a message from its leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, that is timed to coincide with the Trump administration’s relocation of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Zawahiri notes that the decision caused a “big uproar,” but he reminds listeners that Tel Aviv is also supposedly Muslim land. He calls for jihad to uproot the entire international system led by the US and the UN.
Since late April, the Islamic State has claimed a string of operations targeting elections in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The group’s spokesman, Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, threatened Iraq’s upcoming election on May 12 and the jihadists are carrying out operations accordingly.
Since mid-April, the Islamic State and the Assad regime have been engaged in an intense battle in the southern neighborhoods of Damascus. ISIS claims to have killed or wounded hundreds of Assad’s soldiers, but its figures cannot be independently verified. Meanwhile, the so-called caliphate continues to fight the Syrian government and its allies in other areas as well, including in eastern Syria.