Beyond the Wire - 14 JUL 17
July 14, 2017
Your daily briefing on the state of the world and the state of the art for all things Transnational Threats.
The future of the Islamic State diaspora.
In testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, FDD’s Thomas Joscelyn discussed the threat posed by foreign fighters returning to the United States and Europe. Per Joscelyn, efforts to counter the Islamic State must consider that it is already an international organization that is actively seeking to improve the interconnectedness of its various affiliates. (TNT Comment: With the growing diaspora of Islamic State fighters, the U.S. will continue to rely on Special Operations Forces to limit the spread of the Islamic State diaspora, something the U.S. may struggle to do with its strained deployment tempo.)'
U.S. strikes at al Shabaab in Somalia.
In a joint heliborne raid against two al Shabaab positions, Somali commandos and U.S. forces freed several detainees from an al Shabaab detention facility in southern Somalia. The raid, which killed an unknown number of al Shabaab fighters, comes after the terrorist group vowed to continue its attacks against the newly-elected Somali government. (TNT Comment: This is the second raid under the new authorities approved under the Trump administration, with the hope of limiting the impact of al Shabaab until Somalia’s military is capable of assuming responsibility for the entire country’s security.)
The Islamic State’s potential shift towards Philippines.
The Rajaratnam School of International Studies’ monthly publication, Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, looks at the various indications that the Islamic State is shifting its operations towards its affiliates outside of Syria and Iraq. Covering the recent attacks in Marawi and the evolution of online extremism and Malaysia, the publication addresses how the Islamic State plans to remain a viable jihadist organization after the fall of the caliphate, using southeast Asia as a potential hub for operations. (TNT Comment: The evolution of jihadist organizations and the Islamic State in Southeast Asia were discussed in recent testimony by TNT Director Thomas Sanderson before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.)
Attacker kills two Ukrainians at Egyptian resort. An attacker wielding a knife killed two tourists and injured four at the Egyptian Red Sea holiday resort in Hurghada. (Reuters)
British authorities foil five attacks in recent months. Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick stated that some of the attacks were “within minutes” of being carried out. (BBC)
Cafarella on the global al Qaeda threat. ISW’s Jennifer Cafarella asserts in her testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee that al Qaeda’s main effort is in Syria where the group is “dedicating resources to restructuring the Syrian armed opposition under the leadership of its Syrian affiliate and groups that adhere to a similar ideology.” (HHSC)
Problems in Turkey’s de-facto safe zone in Syria. A report by the Atlantic Council asserts that the security situation in the area seized by Turkey in operation Euphrates Shield is severely unstable and that Turkey has been unable to “create effective governing institutions that can provide services in the territory.” (Atlantic Council)
U.S. cannot confirm Baghdadi’s death. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that “we assume he's alive until it's proven otherwise, and right now I can't prove it otherwise.” (Daily Star)
A different type of foreign fighter. The LA Times’ Molly Hennessy-Fiske explains that the many of the freelance U.S. citizens fighting for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) —a lot of whom are former military— believe they “had left a job unfinished” and are lured by the concept of “combat in a faraway land.” (LA Times)
A close look at the Islamic State’s VBIEDs. Meduza provides a compilation of pictures detailing the different styles of Islamic State VBIEDs that are regularly painted to look like Iraqi military vehicles from afar. (Medusa, Russian Language)
U.S, Afghan forces escalate against Islamic State in Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan forces are now conducting rocket attacks on Islamic State targets from Jalalabad airfield. (VOA)
Gunmen kill two Israeli policemen near Temple Mount. The three Arab-Israeli gunmen, previously unknown to authorities, were killed by Israeli authorities after a chase. (Reuters)
Saudi soldiers killed, wounded in ambush. The soldiers’ patrol vehicle came under attack in Saudi’s oil-rich Qatif province, which is home to a large Shia population. (Reuters)
Militants kill five Egyptian policemen. Three gunmen on a motorbike ambushed a security checkpoint in the al Badrasheen area south of Cairo. (Reuters)
Islamic State has lost 70% of territory once controlled in Iraq, 51% in Syria. The Global Coalition provides a detailed control of terrain map outlining the Islamic State’s losses since 2014. (@coalition)
In the Weeds
More on Iraq
Iraq faces pockets of Islamic State resistance in Mosul's Old City (Reuters)
Video Shows Mosul Civilians Trapped in a Fight Clearly Not Over (NYT)
ISIS Dealt Significant Blow After Iraq Retakes Mosul, Official Says (CENTCOM)