The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Monthly Summary of Events: April 2016
During the month of April, several terrorist attacks were carried out against Israeli civilians. In this framework, an Israeli civilian was lightly injured in a stabbing attack in Rosh Ha’ayin that was carried out by an Israeli-Arab from Kfrar Kasem. In addition, over 20 people were injured in a suicide bombing on a bus in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
In the beginning of the month, a Hamas attack tunnel was discovered that measured 1.2 kilometers and was dug from the southern Gaza Strip into Kisufim. In addition, Hamas reported that it would increase its forces along the Egyptian border in order to improve its relations with the Egyptian government.
The Jordanian government announced its intention to stop the camera-installation project on the Temple Mount.
Coalition air forces continued to attack targets in areas under the control of the Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front. Coalition forces reported 150 attacks throughout the country. In this framework, at least 20 Al-Nusra Front fighters were killed in an attack by the US Air Force on a village northwest of Idlib. According to the reports, Abu Firas al-Suri, spokesman for the organization and former senior member of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, was killed. The US announced that it would increase the number of US Special Forces in the country. In addition, the Russian Air Force continued to attack jihadist rebel targets throughout Syria in order to help Syrian army forces, with the majority of attacks centered on Aleppo. In one such attack by the Syrian Air Force on the city of Idlib, 44 civilians were killed.
The international ceasefire continued despite several violations by the warring sides. Nevertheless, there were increasing reports and assessments that the ceasefire was on the brink of collapse. Against the backdrop of this, UN-brokered peace talks were renewed in Geneva, Switzerland.
During the month of April, the Syrian army and Hezbollah forces fended off an attack by the IS against their posts in the village of Jarjir, which is located on the Syria-Lebanon border near the city of Arsal. In addition, a senior officer in Ahrar al-Sham was killed in a suicide attack in the city of Aleppo.
The battle continued throughout Syria, in the framework of which an attack was reportedly carried out against the air base in Deir Ezzor by IS fighters using chemical warfare substances composed of mustard gas. The IS also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 300 employees from a concrete plant located northeast of Damascus. In addition, the organization claimed responsibility for the downing of a Sukhoi SU-22 fighter aircraft south of Aleppo.
During the month of April, heavy gun battles were reported between Hezbollah and IS forces nearal-Zueitina.In addition, a member of the Fatah leadership was killed in Ain al-Hilwehrefugee camp as a result of an explosive device that was detonated under his car.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which held a summit in Turkey, declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Against the backdrop of this, the Egyptian satellite company, NileSat, announced that it would stop broadcasting Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel.
During the month of April, the battle in Sinai continued, in the framework of which police officers and civilians were killed and many others were injured in several incidents. Most of the incidents, which were characterized by roadside explosions and rocket fire, took place in Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and along the road connecting Sheikh Zuweid to Egyptian Rafah. The Islamic State’s branch in Sinai claimed responsibility for the attacks. As a result, there were renewed reports about the US intention to withdraw its soldiers from the peace force in Sinai in light of the IS threat.
Against the backdrop of this, the Egyptian army reported that over 66 IS fighters had been killed in an air and ground attack by the army in the area of Sheikh Zuweid and Egyptian Rafah. Approximately 30 additional suspected IS members were killed in another attack in the area that targeted weapons caches.
During the month of April, several political developments were noted in the Egyptian arena: The King of Saudi Arabia signed new trade agreements worth 20 billion dollars with the Egyptian government. Among other things, it was agreed to establish a free trade zone around the Suez Canal and to invest in the development of infrastructure and means of production in the Sinai Peninsula. As part of the agreement, Egypt transferred control over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. A wave of arrests continued in Cairo in an effort to prevent demonstrations and riots against the backdrop of the agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, including the transfer of the island in the Red Sea to the latter.
In response to the downing of a Russian plane in October 2015, Russian security officials carried out security checks at the airport in Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh prior to aloowing Russian airlines to fly in the area again.
The Jordanian government recalled its ambassador from Tehran in protest against the Iranian regime’s involvement in the internal affairs of Arab states. In addition, Jordanian authorities shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country.
During the month of April, the Islamic State again attacked Kurdish Peshmerga forces using rockets with chemical warheads in northern Iraq. In addition, at least 20 people were reported killed and 50 others injured in a series of explosions in the capital of Baghdad, which included a car bomb explosion at an army checkpoint in the northern part of the city. There were also reports that over 20 people were killed and 64 other injured in a series of suicide attacks and mortar bomb fire in Basra, Mishada and Al-Nasiriyah.
In the framework of its battle against the IS, the Iraqi army lifted the siege on the western city of Hit, which had been under the organization’s control. Meanwhile, reports continued about the worsening humanitarian situation in the city of Fallujah, which is under IS control, as a result of the siege placed on the city by the Iraqi army. Against the backdrop of this, the US planned to increase its ground forces and attack helicopters ahead of the battle to capture Mosul from the hands of the organization.
As part of the aerial battle, coalition forces continued to attack targets in IS-controlled areas, and the Turkish Air Force continued to attack PKK targets in northern Iraq. According to official Pentagon reports, western coalition forces attacked IS targets 523 times during the last month.
In the political realm, the political crisis gripping the Iraqi Parliament deepened. According to some reports, Nouri al-Maliki, the former Prime Minister, was responsible for the crisis.
During the month of April, bombings continued to be carried out against security forces throughout Libya. The IS attacked military targets in the cities of Misrata and Benghazi using car bombs and suicide bombers. In another IS attack, a guard was killed and four others were injured in an attack on an oil terminal in Al-Baraqa, and two guards were killed in an attempted attack on Al-Baida oil field in eastern Libya. As a result, the alert level was raised in several oil fields northwest of the city of Sirte out of fear of an IS attack.
In the aerial arena, the Libyan Air Force continued to attack IS targets in Benghazi and rebel targets in Derna.
During the month of April, Libyan authorities closed the Ras Jedir border crossing connecting Libya and Tunisia. Against the backdrop of this, the head of the unity government arrived in Tripoli dispite the protest of some Libya Dawn supporters. Nevertheless, the head of the opposition resigned from her position.
During the month of April, it was reported that Russia had transported the initial parts of the S-300 air defense system to the Iranian regime. In addition, it was reported in the US and Russia that Iran had carried out a test of a rocket propulsion system for launching satellites as a cover for a missile with intercontinental capabilities.
In the framework of its economic reform plan, “Vision 2030”, aimed at gaining independence from oil, authorities in the Kingdom announced that it would establish an investment fund worth two trillion dollars to this purpose.
During the month of April, a senior police officer was killed by assassin fire in Al-Dawadmi, east of Riyadh. The IS claimed responsibility for the shooting.
During the month of April, the battle against AQAP continued, in the framework of which at least 20 soldiers were killed in an ambush by the organization in Abyan Province. In addition, several officers and local government officials in the city of Aden were assassinated by members of the organization. In response, Arab coalition forces carried out attacks in the framework of which several of the organization’s facilities were damaged in Zinjibar and at least 25 AQAP fighters were killed in an attack on the city of Al-Kawd in southern Abyan Province.
In addition, the battle continued between army forces and Houthi rebels in the country. In this framework, intense battles took place between forces loyal to the Yemeni army and Houthi rebels in the city of Midi. In addition, approximately 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush set by the rebels near the capital of Sana’a despite the UN-brokered ceasefire. As a result of repeated ceasefire violations between the warring parties, there was a delay in the start of reconciliation talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels. However, despite the delay, reconciliation talks finally began in Kuwait. At the same time, the US Navy and the French Navy stopped two shipments of weapons from Iran that were intended for Houthi forces in the country.
The President of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, appointed a new Prime Minister and new Vice President.
Persian Gulf States
During the month of April, reports surfaced about the establishment of a Hezbollah cell in the United Emirates by Iran, designed to gather political and security information about development in the country.
North and West Africa
During the month of April, the head of the counterterrorism agency in Morocco reported that its officials had arrested an IS cell that was planning to carry out chemical attacks in four cities in the country in preparation for a similar attack in Europe. According to the report, the cell was in the advanced stages of preparing mustard gas and epsilon poison.
In addition, reports surfaced that Ghana had raised its alert level as a result of information indicating that AQAP intended to carry out acts within the country’s borders.
During the month of April, Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen carried out several terrorist attacks throughout the country, including a suicide bombing at a hotel in the city of Galkayo, which is located in the center of the country, in which at least nine people were killed and ten others were injured. In addition, at least five people were killed a car bomb explosion near the government offices, and three people were killed in another car bomb explosion in the capital, Mogadishu. Against the backdrop of this, six Al-Shabab fighters were killed when an explosive belt in their possession detonated after army forces imposed a siege on their safe house in a village near the city of Baidoa.
In the framework of the battle against Al-Shabab, the US Department of Defense reported that the leader of the organization had been killed in a drone strike south of Jilib, located near the Kenyan border. In addition, 12 Al-Shabab fighters were killed in US air strikes. Against the backdrop of this, Somali and African Union troops recaptured the town of Janaale from Al-Shabab.
The IS published a video file supporting its presence in the country.
Construction began of a defensive wall along the Somali border to prevent Al-Shabab fighters from flowing into the country.
During the month of April, Boko Haram continued to carry out terrorist attacks throughout the country, in the framework of which six Niger army soldiers were killed in an ambush set by the organization near the town of Diffa, which is located in Niger on the Nigerian border, and 30 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a raid by the organization on several villages in Yobe State. In the framework of the battle against Boko Haram, Nigerian security forces thwarted an attack by the organization in Borno State. During the operation, over 400 hostages were freed. In addition, 30 Boko Haram fighters were killed and 24 Nigerian soldiers were injured in a gun battle in Kareto, in Borno State.
During the month of April, terrorist attacks in the country continued, in the framework of which 12 recruits were killed and 38 others were injured in a motorcycle bomb explosion next to a bus on which they were traveling to Nangarhar. In addition, 13 jihadists and one soldier were killed in a gun battle in Kunar Province, and at least six people were killed in a car bomb explosion near a high school in Parwan Province.
The Taliban continued to carry out terrorist attacks in the country and announced the start of a spring offensive against Afghan security forces and foreign forces in the country. In this framework, at least 64 people were killed and over 300 others were injured in a truck bomb explosion near a government building in the capital of Kabul. After the truck explosion, Taliban fighters attacked government buildings in the area. In addition, 15 workers from a demining project were abducted, seemingly by Taliban gunmen in Herat Province. Against the backdrop of this, approximately 90 Taliban gunmen were killed and over 120 others were injured in the framework of an operation by the Afghan army in Kunduz Province.
During the month of April, the Islamic State sustained many dead and wounded in the framework of its battle against the Afghan and US armies. At least 39 IS fighters were killed in battles with the Afghan army and two others were killed in a US air strike in Nangarhar Province. Against the backdrop of this, 14 people were killed and over 20 others were injured in gun battles between the IS and the Taliban in the province.
The Pakistani army continued to battle against jihadists in the country, in the framework of which it launched a campaign to locate and arrest them in Punjab Province and over 30 fighters were killed in battles with the army in Balochistan Province. Against the backdrop of this, terrorist attacks in the country continued. Ten people were injured in a suicide bombing at a government building in Pesahawar and seven police officers who were guarding a team of polio vaccine workers were killed by fire from unknown assailants riding on motorcycles in the city of Karachi.
During the month of April, the US government issued a travel warning to the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
The wave of terrorist attacks throughout the country continued during the month of April, in the framework of which seven police officers were killed and tens of others were wounded in a car bomb explosion near the bus they were traveling on in Diyarbak?r, and over 24 others were injured in a car bomb explosion at the entrance to a military police station in southeast Turkey. In addition, at least four people were injured by rocket fire from Syria directed at the city of Kilis in southern Turkey. The Turkish army responded with artillery fire towards the sources of the rocket fire. Additional attacks were carried out against army forces in the framework of which four soldiers were killed, and two others were injured in an explosion in southeast Turkey in April that was carried out by the Kurdish PKK.
Travel warnings by Israel and the US to Turkey in general, and to Antalya and Istanbul in particular, were increased. According to the warning, there was reliable and valid information regarding the entire country. Against the backdrop of this, the leader of the Kurdish PKK resistance warned of an increased level of violence throughout Turkey.
During the month of April, the first wave of refugees to Turkey from the Greek Islands were returned as part of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union.
The Indian Subcontinent
In Bangladesh, the Islamic State continued to carry out terrorist attacks throughout the country, in the framework of which an English lecturer at the University of Rajshahi in northwest Bangladesh was stabbed after he preached atheism and criticized militant Islam in the country. In addition, the editor of an LGBT magazine in the country was murdered by the organization. Against the backdrop of this, the organization declared a new emir of the Bengal (Bangladesh) region.
In Thailand, a memo was leaked warning against bomb attacks at tourist centers in the country. According to the report, two organizations infiltrated the country through the island of Phuket in order to attack Chinese targets in the country, as well as two wanted Chechens who sought to attack Russian tourist targets. In addition, Thai security officials arrested a Pakistani man on suspicion of forging passports. At the time of his arrest, he was found in possession of several Israeli and French passports that he planned to give to an Iranian client.
In the Philippines, battles continued in the south of the country between the army and Abu Sayyaf, an organization affiliated with the Islamic State, in the framework of which 18 Philippine soldiers were killed and 56 others were injured. In addition, the organization claimed responsibility for the beheading of a Canadian captive since the demanded ransom payment for his release was not paid.
In India, the alert level was raised in Delhi, Goa and Mumbai for fear of a terrorist attack.