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Global Islamism Monitor - No. 38

Edited by Ilan Berman and Rebekah Burgweger
May 28, 2017


THE AIR CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE HEATS UP...
Members of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition are stepping up their aerial sorties, hoping to capitalize on the momentum of ground forces in the fight against the terrorist group. According to official statistics released by U.S. Air Forces Central Command, 14,192 rockets, bombs and other munitions were dropped by U.S. and allied planes in the first four months of 2017 - an increase of nearly 50 percent from the same period in 2016. (
USA Today, May 23, 2017)

...AS ISIS FOCUSES ON UNCONVENTIONAL DEFENSE

For the Islamic State, meanwhile, necessity appears to be the mother of invention. After being slowly squeezed out of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the terror group has shifted its emphasis to the development of unconventional capabilities. U.S. officials say that the group has established a new "chemical weapons cell" made up of Syrian and Iraqi specialists. The unit, located in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, is viewed as part of a bid by ISIS to better defend its remaining strategic positions and strongholds against coalition forces.

The news is causing consternation among U.S. military officials. "[W]e have seen ISIS use low-grade chemical agents in the past. We know ISIS is willing to use chemical weapons. This is not something we want to see them get good at," Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led military coalition, has told reporters. (
CNN, May 17, 2017)

ISIS REARS ITS HEAD IN THE PHILIPPINES

The government of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is grappling with an upsurge in ISIS-linked violence. Militants affiliated with Maute, a rebel group that has been linked to ISIS, have taken to the streets in Marawi City, in the country's south, leading to a mass military mobilization and the declaration of martial law in that part of the country. Maute, which is also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, is said to be made up of guerrillas formerly affiliated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamic separatist organization based in the southern island of Mindanao, as well as a number of foreign fighters. (London
Independent, May 24, 2017)

AN AL-QAEDA CALL TO ARMS...

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden may be dead, but his ideology - and his animus against the West - lives on. Bin Laden's 28-year-old son, Hamza, has stepped into the spotlight vacated by his father, issuing a video in which the budding jihadi calls for Muslim radicals to carry out "lone wolf" attacks against Western targets. Hamza, previously a largely unknown quantity, is believed by experts to be seeking the leadership of al-Qaeda, which had been taken up by the group's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, following Bin Laden's death back in 2011. (London
Mail on Sunday, May 13, 2017)

...AND THE QUIET CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE BIN LADEN NETWORK

The lion's share of official attention has long been paid to the Islamic State terrorist group, but the United States is quietly focusing on other threat actors as well. Prominent among them is the Islamic State's progenitor, al-Qaeda. A recent raid by U.S. special forces operators in Yemen targeted a stronghold of AQAP, al-Qaeda's Gulf franchise, with notable results. According to U.S. Central Command, seven AQAP members were killed as a result of the raid, which also netted valuable information regarding the status of the movement. "Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP's disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP," CENTCOM said in an official statement. (
Long War Journal, May 23, 2017)

A MEDIA CLAMPDOWN IN CAIRO

The government of Egyptian president Abdel Fateh al-Sisi is cracking down on what it deems to be "terrorism supporting" media. Egyptian authorities are said to have banned 21 separate websites because of controversial content - most prominently, that of Qatar's official al-Jazeera television channel. According to local security sources, the websites have been blocked for their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt, or for their ties to the Gulf kingdom of Qatar, which has come under fire of late for its role in supporting an assortment of regional radical groups. Egypt's decision follows similar moves by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (
Reuters, May 24, 2017)


Related Categories: Middle East; Africa; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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