The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Monthly Summary of Events May 2016
During the month of May, there were continued attempts to carry out terrorist attacks in the form of stabbings, car rammings, and bombings in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. Two Israeli civilians were lightly injured in different stabbing attacks in Jerusalem (and in the Old City), and in one of the attacks the Palestinian terrorist was caught. In addition, a Palestinian terrorist was shot and killed by security forces as she attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at a police checkpoint in northern Jerusalem. In another stabbing attack, this time in the center of the country in Tel Aviv, an IDF soldier was lightly injured and the Palestinian terrorist was arrested. In other attacks that were carried out in Judea and Samaria, three soldiers were injured in a ramming attack in the Benyamin region and the terrorist was shot and killed. In another incident in eastern Jerusalem, an IDF offer was seriously injured by a bomb explosion at the Hizma checkpoint. During the month, the Shin Bet arrested a Hamas cell responsible for a series of terrorist attacks, including a suicide attack on a bus in April.
During the month of May, several mortar bombs were fired from the Gaza Strip at IDF forces searching for tunnels near the border fence with Gaza. These incident ended without IDF casualties. The Air Force responded by attacking several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Later, the Air Force struck additional Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip due to the claim of responsibility taken by the “Muhammad Abu Khdeir Martyrs Brigade” (which is affiliated with the Islamic State) for the firing of a rocket from Gaza into Israel. In another incident, security services thwarted an attempt to smuggle hundreds of metal pipes for manufacturing rockets into the Gaza Strip.
Later in the month, there were unverified reports that the IAF had attacked a shipment of advanced weaponry intended for Hezbollah on the Syrian side of the Syria-Lebanon border in the area of Majdal Anjar in Beqqa Governate.
During the month of May, the ceasefire between rebel forces, and Assad’s forces and Russia was extended several times, but as a result of the renewed fighting in Aleppo, the ceasefire collapsed after a very short time. Nevertheless, it was reported that Russia and the US had reached an agreement on the start of a 48-hour ceasefire in the area.
During the month, Syrian civilians continued to cope with terrorist attacks by the Islamic State as well as attacks by the Syrian regime. Dozens of civilians were killed in a series of air strikes carried out by the Syrian regime in Aleppo. In one of the attacks, which was aimed at a hospital, 27 patients and staff members were killed. It was also reported that six Kurdish security officers were killed in a suicide attack in the city of Qamishli in northern Syria. The Syrian Air Force attacked a refugee camp near the border with Turkey, killing at least 28 civilians. In another attack involving a suicide terrorist and a car bomb in Homs, at least ten civilians were killed and approximately 40 others injured in the explosion. In addition, several people were killed and injured in a car bombing explosion near a Shi’ite church in Idlib. During the month, approximately 20 people were killed and an unknown number of hostages were taken in a raid by the IS on a military hospital in Deir Ezzor. The IS also claimed responsibility for several combined and coordinated attacks in the coastal cities of Tartus and Jabla, in which over 130 civilians were killed and hundreds more were injured. The attacks, which targeted the Alawite minority, included the firing of rockets, car bombs and suicide terrorists.
During the month, the IS continued to conquer and annex territories for itself, including the gas field in Palmyra, and claimed responsibility for the explosion of a natural gas field near the city. Later, it was also reported that Al-Nusra Front fighters had captured the Alawite village of Al-Zahraa in Aleppo Province.
55 Islamic State supporters were killed in an artillery strike by the Turkish army north of Aleppo. The bombardment came in response to high-trajectory fire directed at the city of Kilis in Turkey.
Coalition air forces carried out 178 air strikes against targets in areas under IS and Al-Nusra Front control. The United States announced that it would increase the number of US Special Forces in the country. It was also reported that Kurdish forces, in cooperation with moderate rebels, had begun an operation to capture the IS capital, Al-Raqqah.
During the month, the Russian Air Force continued to attack jihadist rebel targets throughout Syria, with emphasis on Aleppo, to assist Syrian army forces.
Local elections throughout Lebanon came to a close, in the framework of which Hezbollah and its allies won the majority of votes in the eastern sector of the country. Hezbollah’s Chief Of Staff, Mustafa Badreddine, one of the five people wanted for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister, was killed in a mysterious explosion at a Hezbollah post in Damascus. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the bombing of Sunni jihadists operating in the area. According to reports, Badreddine’s son, Mustafa Mughniyeh, was appointed as his replacement.
During the month, new US legislation and sanctions imposed by law enforcement on banks that do business with Hezbollah created conflict between the banks and the organization. In addition, there were increased reports in western media that Hezbollah was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iran, the continued fighting in Syria, the thwarted illegal activities of Hezbollah and the sanctions imposed by the US on banks that work with the organization.
During the month, security forces raised the alert level in the capital of Beirut out of fear of an attack by the Islamic State. In addition, a gun battle was reported between Hezbollah and the IS in Ras Baalbek, which is located on the eastern border with Lebanon.
With regard to Lebanese-Israeli relations, during the month of May, the Lebanese army began setting up observation towers along the shared border between the two countries. In an article that was written for a Lebanese newspaper affiliated with Hezbollah, it was claimed that the organization continued to fortify its positions along the border with Israel and was even digging tunnels along the border.
During the month of May, the Egyptian government extended the state of emergency in the country for an additional three months. In addition, for the first time in several months, Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing connecting the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula for 48 hours. During the month, Egyptian airport authorities reported having identified attempts to disrupt flight and landing aids using technological measures.
During the month, Egypt continued to suffer many losses. Eight police officers were killed in a shooting attack in Cairo for which the IS claimed responsibility. In the Sinai Peninsula, several police officers were killed in the explosion of roadside bombs that were hidden in areas of Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid. In addition, a tribal leader was shot and killed by anonymous assassins outside of his home in Al-Arish.
As a result of the growing threat to foreign forces by the IS branch in the Sinai Peninsula, it was reported that 65 peacekeeping forces in Sinai from Fiji would be sent back to their home country. In addition, the Egyptian army reported that it had killed over 85 IS fighters during several days of battle in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
For the fourth time since the start of the year, damage was caused from shooting directed at the relay station in the Amman area. In addition, King Abdullah dissolved the government and appointed a new government, apparently in response to growing protest in the Kingdom against the backdrop of the difficult economic situation and price increases.
During the month of May, coalition air forces carried out 504 attacks against targets in areas under IS control. To combat the coalition air strikes, the IS used anti-aircraft and Igla shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. Later in the month, Iraq announced the launch of a military operation to liberate the city of Fallujah from IS forces with help from coalition air forces and Shi’ite militias. In addition, the Iraqi army liberated the western city of Rutbah from IS forces.
In addition, during the month of May, a US Special Forces soldier was killed in a gun battle between IS fighters and Peshmerga forces approximately 20 kilometers north of Mosul. In addition, 32 people were killed and over 75 others were injured when two car bombs exploded in the town of Samawah. The IS claimed responsibility for this and several other attacks that were carried out throughout Iraq, including: the explosion of a car bomb in a Shi’ite market in northern Baghdad, which killed 34 people and injured over 70 others; a shooting attack at a café in the city of Balad, which killed 11 people and injured over 30 others; and the killing of over 20 Iraqi soldiers near the city of Ramadi. It was also reported that 69 people were killed and close to 100 others injured in three bomb attacks that included suicide terrorists and a car bomb in the capital of Baghdad.
During the month, it was reported that the IS was performing experiments with chemical weapons, namely chlorine and mustard gas, on prisoners and animals.
During the month, approximately 50 Shi’ite protesters were injured in a protest dispersal as they tried to break into the Parliament to protest against government dysfunction. In addition, hundreds of protesters broke through the barrier protecting the “green zone” in the capital of Baghdad and gathered at the Iraqi Parliament. The protesters – supporters of Shi’ite cleric, Muktada al-Sadr – demanded the swearing-in of the Parliament.
During the month, the Turkish Air Force continued to attack PKK targets in the north of the country, killing 15 PKK fighters.
During the month of May, heavy gun battles continued between various forces throughout the country, including the city of Zella in central Libya. Libya was coping with incessant attempts by the IS to capture parts of the country, expand and impose its will on the country. In this framework, five Libyan soldiers were killed in an attack by IS fighters against several villages between Sirte and Misurata. The IS also claimed responsibility for firing mortar bombs in Benghazi, which killed five people and injured over 20 others.
In the framework of the struggle, Libyan security forces recaptured two coastal towns near the city of Sirte from the IS in an effort to prevent the organization’s access to oil facilities in the region. In addition, the Libyan Air Force attacked terrorist targets in Derna and Sirte.
During the month, western countries considered the possibility of removing the military embargo that was placed on the Libyan government and re-arming the country in its battle against the IS.
During previous months, elections were held for Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was appointed Head of the Assembly in May.
During the month, it was reported that Russia intended to provide Iran with several more S-300 ground-to-air missile brigades until the end of the civil year. In addition, the Iranian Parliament approved a plan for improving and developing the country’s ballistic missiles. In the meantime, a report by the Atomic Energy Council determined that Iran still meets the terms of the agreement that it reached with the world powers.
During the month of May, the battle continued along the southern border of the Kingdom against Houthi rebel forces in Yemen. In addition, Saudi Air Defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile that was launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabian territory. Saudi security forces killed four members of an IS cell in the suburbs of Mecca.
The US Senate passed legislation allowing victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia. The legislation is still awaiting approval by the House of Representatives and the US President.
During the month of May, direct peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels in Kuwait stopped due to frequent violations of the truce. However, indirect talks continued between the sides.
During the month, most of the terrorist attacks took place in the city of Aden. A car bomb explosion was reported outside the home of the security chief in the city, injuring two civilians. Later, five soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in an assassination attempt of Aden’s police chief. It was also reported that a senior officer in the Yemeni army and two of his bodyguards were killed by assassins in the city. Another terrorist attack that took place in Aden was carried out by two suicide terrorists who came to the army recruitment center in the city and blew themselves up among the crowd, killing 48 people. The airports in the cities of Aden and Al-Mukalla returned to partial operation.
Also in May, six suspected AQAP members were killed in a US drone strike near the village of Amudiya. In addition, Yemeni army forces recaptured Lahij Province from AQAP, and liberated the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar from the organization’s control. Thirteen AQAP fighters were killed during incursions into the city of Al-Mukalla by Yemeni security forces.
During the month, the IS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in which 31 police cadets were killed in a car bomb explosion at a training camp in Al-Mukalla. It was also reported that a suicide attack was carried out in the city of Marib that killed five people and injured 17 others.
North and West Africa
During the month of May, AQIM claimed responsibility for firing Grad rockets at a uranium mine in Niger. The organization announced that it would continue to act against those who rob Muslim lands.
During the month, two police officers from Burkina Faso were injured in an armed raid on a police station on the border with Mali. The raid was also apparently carried out by AQIM fighters.
During the month of May, Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen continued to carry out several terrorist attacks throughout the country. The attacks included a car bomb explosion near the police headquarters in the capital of Mogadishu, which killed five police officers. 22 Somali soldiers were also killed in an attack by Al-Shabaab fighters in the town of Ruun Nirgood.
In addition, it was reported that an unknown number of Al-Shabaab fighters were killed or captured in a helicopter raid by Somali and US Special Forces on an Al-Shabaab training camp near the village of Toratorow, which is located approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu.
During the month of May, Kenyan security forces arrested several medical students who were planning to carry out biological attacks in the country for the Islamic State.
During the month of May, Boko Haram continued its terrorist activities against civilians in northern Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger. In the village of Alau, which is located in Borno State, approximately 30 cattle herders were killed in a Boko Haram raid on their village, and 11 civilians were killed in raids by the organization on five other villages in Borno State. It was also reported that over 20 people were injured in a suicide attack at the entrance to a mosque in Borno State, for which Boko Haram also claimed responsibility. Six more civilians were also reported killed in a Boko Haram raid on a village in Niger.
During the month, the Nigerian army liberated seven villages in Borno State from Boko Haram. In addition, the army captured several Boko Haram training camps in the Sambisa Forest area.
Later in the month, 12 Boko Haram fighters were killed in a battle with Niger army soldiers.
Two young girls wearing explosive belts were killed when they were stopped at a checkpoint on the border with Cameroon. In addition, seven people were killed in a suicide blast at a government office in the city of Maiduguri, and five other people were reported killed in a bomb explosion near a military checkpoint in northern Nigeria.
During the month of May, the Afghan army, with help from the US army, continued to attack terrorist organizations in the country, including the IS, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, mainly using drones. The leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a US drone strike near the border with Pakistan. Reports indicated that the attack was carried out on the Pakistani side of the border. In addition, approximately 41 Taliban fighters were killed and 42 others were injured during Afghan army operations in Kandahar Province. It was also reported that at least 20 Taliban fighters were killed in a drone strike by NATO forces in northern Kunduz Province. During the month, five Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in a US drone strike in Zabul Province. In addition, approximately six suspected IS members were killed in a US drone strike in Nangarhar Province.
During the month, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the downing of a US drone as well as several terrorist attacks. 57 police officers were killed and 37 others were injured during an attack on police stations in Helmand Province. In addition, 16 civilians were killed and dozens more were captured in several shooting attacks at buses in Kunduz Province.
During the month, 16 people were also reported killed in two different explosions in Badghis Province in northwest Afghanistan. At least ten people were killed and seven other injured in a car bomb explosion near a vehicle carrying court employees in Kabul, and approximately four people were killed and 12 others injured in a car bomb explosion at the entrance to a police training camp in Helmand Province.
In an incident that was not attributed to any specific organization, an Australian aid worker was kidnapped near the city of Jalalabad. In addition, two Romanian soldiers from NATO forces were shot and killed by an Afghan soldier in an incident that was described as a “green on blue” shooting.
During the month of May, three suspected Al-Qaeda members were killed in Karachi in a gun battle with security forces. In addition, three people were injured in a roadside bomb explosion in the city, including a Chinese engineer. A Pakistani police officer was killed and ten others were injured in the explosion of two roadside bombs near a police convoy in the southern suburbs of Peshawar.
During the month of May, the Prime Minister of Turkey resigned from his position as a result of severe disagreements with President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
During the month, clashes continued between security forces and Kurds, both in Turkey and outside of its borders. Security forces continued to battle against the PKK in the Iraqi border area, where eight Turkish soldiers were killed. In addition, it was reported that a Turkish Air Force COBRA attack helicopter was downed by an anti-aircraft missile (apparently a Strela shoulder-fired missile) launched by Kurdish rebels.
During the month, Turkey also suffered two car bomb explosions, one in the southern city of Gaziantep in the framework of which two police officers were killed and 23 others were injured, and the other in Diyarbakir in which three people were killed and close to 50 others were injured. It was also reported that 13 people were injured in a suicide blast in the city of Bursa.
The Indian Subcontinent
During the month of May, the IS published a threat against India in revenge for the killing of Muslims in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar. In addition, the organization and its supporters claimed responsibility for several stabbing attacks that were carried out in various locations in India. In Bangladesh, a Hindi tailor was stabbed to death by IS supporters. In addition, a doctor was killed and a university lecturer was stabbed by members of the organization. In the city of Rajshahi, the Sufi spiritual leader was stabbed to death by IS supporters. Two police officers were also reported killed in a shooting attack at a police station in Srinagar.
During the month of May, the US State Department issued a travel warning to Europe, with emphasis on the summer months during the EURO 2016 soccer tournament.
During the month, European countries continued to thwart terrorist attacks throughout the continent. In this framework, Italian security forces arrested three IS operatives who were planning to attack the Vatican and the Israeli Embassy in Rome. In addition, Belgian police arrested four people suspected of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in the country.
During the month, Ugandan police received information regarding the Somali Al-Shabaab’s intention to carry out terrorist attacks in airports, government facilities and crowded places in Entebbe and Kampala.