The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Monthly Summary of Events July 2016
During the month of July, there was a marked increase in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted terrorist attacks against Israelis. Two civilians were killed, and several civilians and soldiers were injured in several incidents, most of them in the West Bank. Most of the attacks involved stabbings but one attack involved gunfire at a passing car. In addition, there was a thwarted bombing attempt on the Light Rail in Jerusalem.
During the month, high trajectory fire directed at Israel resumed. One rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip to the city of Sderot, while the fighting in Syria spilled over to the Golan Heights area. In each incident, the IDF responded with air strikes against positions associated with the forces in control of the firing zones. In addition, a drone (probably Russian) penetrated the skies over the Golan Heights. Despite many attempts to down the drone, the aircraft returned to Syrian territory.
In the political arena, the Palestinian Authority broke off ties with the “Quartet” in response to a report accusing the PA of incitement against the State of Israel. In addition, in an unusual official visit, the Egyptian Foreign Minister arrived to discuss moving forward the political process between Israel and the PA.
During the month of July, air strikes continued throughout Syria. Coalition air forces, led by the US, attacked targets in areas under Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front control, with emphasis on northern and eastern Syria. Reported coalition strikes numbered 352, a lower number than June but higher than previous months. Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force also continued to attack rebels throughout Syria, with emphasis on Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and near the Jordanian border. In addition, the Syrian Air Force attacked in Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, as well Idlib Province. In contrast, IS fighters managed to down a Russian combat helicopter east of Palmyra and a Syrian combat plane near Deir Ezzor.
Alongside the continued siege on Aleppo by the Syrian army, aided by Shi’ite militias, battles were reported between the Kurdish YPG and Ahrar al-Sham in the city itself.
During the month, terrorist attacks continued in the country, the most significant of which took place in the city of Qamishli on the Syria-Turkey border, involving a truck bombing and a suicide terrorist. In addition, several mortar shells were fired at places of entertainment in the Old City of Damascus.
During the month, exchanges of fire and battles continued along the border with Syria. The Lebanese army and Hezbollah took action against Al-Nusra Front and IS positions and fighters in the areas of Ras Baalbek, Arsal and El Qaa.
During the month, the political crises in Lebanon also continued as a result of disagreement between the various camps regarding the identity of the Lebanese president.
During the month of July, Egyptian security forces continued to act against IS fighters in the Sinai Peninsula, with emphasis on the cities of Rafah and Al-Arish. For the first time in a while, roadside bombs were detonated next to a police patrol in Al-Munbatih in the central Sinai Peninsula.
In an unusual incident, several Egyptian soldiers were killed in clashes with smugglers near Farafra, which is located on the Egypt-Libya border.
During the month of July, coalition air forces continued to strike targets in IS-controlled areas. In contrast to the first six months of 2016, there was a significant decrease in the number of air strikes (332), the lowest number of attacks since March 2015. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army continued its activities to liberate the last sections of the city of Fallujah from IS control. In addition, the Iraqi army worked to liberate the Qayyarah military airfield, which is located near the city of Mosul, from IS control.
Despite its loss of control over additional sections of Iraqi territory, the IS continued to operate throughout the country. During the month, the IS carried out several “quality attacks” that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians. 250 people were killed in a car bomb explosion in the Karrada Quarter of Baghdad, while over 30 Shi’ite worshippers were killed in a combined attack that included a car bombing and small arms and mortar fire in the town of Balad, located north of the capital. The organization also acted against civilians fleeing from the battle zones under its control, including a series of suicide attacks in the city of Al-Shirqat in Saladdin Province. In addition, the organization attacked the Trebil border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.
During the month, a camp of Iranian exiles near the airport in Baghdad was attacked by a barrage of rockets. Despite the fact that no one claimed responsibility for the incident, it was suspected that the attack was carried out under the guidance of the Ayatollah regime in Tehran.
During the month, the Turkish Air Force continued to strike PKK targets in northern Iraq despite having stopped its attacks for several days against the backdrop of a failed military coup attempt in the country.
During the month of July, battles continued between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and IS fighters in and around the city of Sirte. Meanwhile, terrorist attacks continued against security forces in the city of Benghazi, including car bombs and the failed attempted assassination of Libya’s new Defense Minister.
In one incident, three French soldiers were killed in a Libyan army helicopter crash near Al-Maqrun in eastern Libya. According to the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), the helicopter was downed by the organization’s fighters using an SA-7 antiaircraft missile.
During the month of July, exchanges of fire continued between the Revolutionary Guards and Kurdish forces on the western border of Iran. As a result, Iran began to reinforce its military troops along the border.
On the Iran-Pakistan border, several Iranian border guard troops were killed during a gunfire exchange with militants. Meanwhile, Iranian security forces arrested dozens of suspects after discovering a terror tunnel connecting Pakistan and Iran.
In an apparent terrorist attack, theArab separatist group “Hawks of Ahvaz” claimed responsibility for setting fire to petrochemical factories in the city of Ahvaz.
During the month, the Iranian army carried out its fourth ballistic missile test since the nuclear deal with the world powers came into effect.
During the month of July, several terrorist attacks were carried out, seemingly by IS supporters, including suicide bombings near the US Consulate in Jeddah and near the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina. In addition, a suicide terrorist blew himself up near a Shi’ite mosque in the city of Qatif, on the eastern coast of the country.
In the framework of the battle against Houthi rebels in Yemen, several ballistic missiles fired from Yemen towards cities in southern Saudi Arabia were intercepted. In addition, an attempted penetration by Houthi rebels into the country was thwarted.
During the month of July, the civil war in Yemen continued despite Kuwait’s efforts to mediate between the warring sides, in the framework of which the Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia continued to attack Houthi rebel targets throughout the country. In contrast, Houthi rebel forces successfully downed a Saudi Apache combat helicopter.
Despite continued targeted drone attacks against AQAP targets by the US, with emphasis on Abyan and Shabwa Provinces, and despite coalition plane attacks against AQAP strongholds in southern Yemen, the latter managed to execute several terrorist attacks throughout the country. Most of the attacks, which involved car bombings and suicide terrorists, took place within and around the city of Aden and in the city of Al-Mukalla against security forces. In addition, the governor of Aden Province escaped an assassination attempt by AQAP.
Persian Gulf States
During the month of July, security forces in Bahrain arrested a terror cell trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi Hezbollah.
During the month, militants attacked a Malian army base in the south of the country. In addition to casualties, the attackers fled with many weapons that they stole from the base.
During the month, Al-Shabab continued to carry out terrorist attacks against targets in the capital of Mogadishu. In a combined attack involving a car bomb and a ground forces, several soldiers were killed next to a UN base near the city’s airport. In addition, Al-Shabab gunmen a Somali army base in Lanta Buro, southwest of the capital.
During the month, the Somali Al-Shabab carried out actions in Kenya. Several civilians were killed in a shooting attack in Mandera, northern Kenya, while a large force of Al-Shabab fighters stormed a police station in Wajir in order to steal weapons and ammunition.
During the month, the Nigerian army continued to carry out air and ground operations against pockets of resistance by Boko Haram in Borno State in northern Nigeria.
During the month of July, the Taliban continued to carry out operations throughout Afghanistan, with emphasis on Kunduz and Nangarhar Provinces. Meanwhile, the organization continued to act against security forces in the capital of Kabul using car bombs and suicide terrorists. The IS also carried out attacks in the capital, including a double suicide attack in which over 80 civilians were killed.
During the month, the US government declared its intention to leave a greater number of soldiers in the country than originally planned. Meanwhile, the US continued its policy of targeted killings and killed a senior TTP commander.
During the month, several terrorist attacks were carried out against security forces, including in the city of Karachi. In at least one attack, the terrorists were identified as TTP militants.
During the month of July, there was a failed attempted military coup in Turkey. During the attempted coup, which was initiated by a rebel group within the Turkish army, 194 people were killed and over 1,150 others were injured. Approximately 2,800 army soldiers were arrested and over 2,700 judges were dismissed by President Erdogan’s government. In total, over 7,500 people were arrested and thousands were dismissed or laid off. Among those dismissed were 21,000 teachers and all the deans of the universities in the country.
In southeast Turkey, security operations continued against Kurdish rebels alongside terrorist attacks using car bombs and attacks against security officials. Meanwhile, the Turkish army continued to shell IS targets along the Turkey-Syria border.
During the month, stabbing attacks against local foreigners continued in Bangladesh. In a stabbing attack at a café in the capital of Dhaka, 20 foreign civilians were killed as well as a Hindu temple worker. In other stabbing attacks, Suffi Muslims were injured. The IS claimed responsibility for the attacks and the Bangladesh police responded with counter operations throughout the country, especially in the capital.
During the month, several terrorist attacks took place in other Asian cities. In Solo, Indonesia, a suicide terrorist blew himself up outside a police station, and several people were injured in a grenade explosion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for which the IS claimed responsibility.
During the month of July, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) called for the execution of terrorist attacks in India by “lone wolves”.
During the month of July, a wave of terrorism befell the European continent, with emphasis on France and Germany. During Bastille Day celebrations on the boardwalk in the coastal city of Nice, in southern France, a Tunisian-born Frenchman carried out a ramming attack in which over 80 partygoers were killed and over 200 others were injured. In addition, in the town of Saint Etienne, a pastor was beheaded by two militants with knives. The IS claimed responsibility in both incidents. In the city of Wurzburg, Germany, several people were injured in an axe attack carried out by an Afghan refugee, and over 15 partygoers were injured when a suicide terrorist, identified as a Syrian refugee from Aleppo, blew himself up in the city of Ansbach. The IS also claimed responsibility for these two incidents.
During the month, and before the start of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian security forces arrested several suspects who intended to carry out terrorist attacks during the Olympic Games. Prior to their arrests, the suspects – members of a group calling itself “Supporters of the Caliphate in Brazil” (Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil) – swore allegiance to the Islamic State.