News Roundup, Week of 22 January, 2021

This week saw a shocking twin suicide bombing attacks in central Baghdad, Iraq, which may signal the potential return of Daesh. Meanwhile, Malaysia saw a drop in terrorism-related activities due to the nationwide Covid-19 Controlled Movement Order (MCO). An arrested terrorist suspect in the Philippines claimed that she was pressured by her parents to commit violence. The Maute Group continued to target security forces out in the Southern Mindanao.


The Counterterrorism Division of the Royal Malaysian Police’s Special Branch revealed that they made a total of seven arrests in 2020 on individuals suspected to have links with terrorism activities, including Daesh. This was a drastic reduction in arrests when compared to the previous years, where 83 and 72 arrests were made in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The drop in arrests was largely due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) that was introduced last March as a national lockdown response to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. The MCO had limited people’s movements, which led to a decline in terrorism-related activities.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the United States military prosecutors finally filed charges in a military tribunal against members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Riduan ISamuddin (aka Hambali) along with two other Malaysians who aided him, Mohammed Nazir Lep and Mohammed Farik Amin. The three men are faced with various serious charges, including conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, destruction of property, and accessory after the fact, all in violation of the law of war. They were captured in Thailand in 2003, and are currently being held in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At present, it is estimated that there are 40 Malaysian prisoners in Guantanamo.

In the Philippines, Rezky Fantasya Rullie (aka Cici and Nini Isaran) admitted that her involvement in terrorism activities was due to parental pressure. Her parents, Rullie Rian Zeke and Umi (aka Ulfah Andayani Saleh) were suicide bombers who were responsible for the 2019 attack on the Our Lady of Mont Carment Church in Jolo. Cici was also the wife to the Indonesian terrorist and facilitator, Andi Baso, who played a key role in transporting her along with her family to Jolo. Cici was arrested in October 2020 for plotting a suicide attack in Jolo. Cici’s case highlighted a worrying trend of family pressure in committing acts of terror.

Meanwhile, three members of the Philippine security forces were killed by the Maute group in Poona Piagapo, Lanao del Norte in the Southern Mindanao. The three men were on their way to the market in Baloi on motorcycles when they were ambushed by the Maute. This incident highlighted the group’s potential threat in the Lanao del Norte area, despite being reduced to less than 50 members.


Two Daesh members launched a twin suicide bombing attack in a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, Iraq. The attack killed 32 people and injured 110 others. The attack targeted a market in the central Tayanan Square, Baghdad. The first attack occurred when the attacker entered the market and feigned a stomach pain to draw in the crowd before detonating his explosives. Following this, the second attacker pretended he was injured from the explosion and triggered his explosives when a concerned crowd of people clustered around him. Daesh released a statement to claim both attacks. This was the worst Daesh-related attack in Baghdad since the group’s 2017 territorial defeat in Iraq. The incident demonstrated the group’s operational capabilities in regrouping to launch attacks in a major city once again. Prior to this, Daesh was only capable of provoking pockets of violence around the city edges, checkpoint areas and remote infrastructures in the desert and mountain areas, particularly in Northern Iraq.

Quarterly Report: Analysis On Terrorism Trends and Developments During The Covid-19 Global Pandemic

This report examines the latest events and developments on terror-related incidents that occurred across the globe between October and December 2020. Military actions in Iraq and Syria have reduced the impact of Daesh-related terrorism around the world. Participating governments continue to target prominent violent groups such as Daesh, Taliban and AQ. The COVID-19 health crisis has led to a decline in violence and remain at low levels. Lockdowns in Indonesia have caused pro-Daesh militants to suffer from income loss. Other groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) remain resilient. Meanwhile, the Philippines security forces continue to target militant groups in the Southern Philippines. Groups like Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have lost ground, but they are still able to evolve and relaunch themselves.

News Roundup, Week of 11 December, 2020

This week, more militants in the Philippines gave themselves up to the Philippines security forces, while a Saudi national who allegedly acted as a facilitator for both Daesh and the Bangsomoro Islamic Fighters (BIFF) was arrested. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Afghan army managed to impede an attack on yet another military in Ghazni. Air strike operations were carried out in Iraq and Egypt to target Daesh militants. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on two oil wells in Iraq.


Thirty-nine members of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered to the Philippines security forces in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu in the Philippines. Three of them were identified as Alsadi Hanain, Benaser Pae and Ugali Alimudin Alsadi who were based in Tawi-Tawi. Hanain, a follower of the ASG’s emir Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan, was involved in high-profile kidnappings and killings of foreign hostages. Thirty-six other members were followers of a senior member of ASG, Alhabsi Misaya, who was killed in a clash with the security forces in Sulu in 2017.

Meanwhile, a 47-year old Saudi national, Adel Sulaiman Alsuhibani, was arrested by the Philippines authorities in Cotabato City, Maguindanao. Alsuhibani was suspected for bringing in West Asia Daesh members into the country and acting as a facilitator for both Daesh and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. His Filipina wife, 36-year old Norhaya Silongan Lumanggal, was also taken into custody. While searching their home, the police discovered a homemade explosive along with travel documents and several passports.


The Taliban orchestrated yet another attack on another military base this month in the Andar District in Ghazni, Afghanistan. However, their planned suicide attack was foiled when the suicide bomber was shot by a sniper as he drove into the base. Two officers were killed while three other were wounded during the attack. This was the second attack that was successfully hampered by the Afghan army this week. Just the day before, the Afghan army thwarted a Taliban attack on a security checkpoint in Uruzgan. 


Five Daesh members were killed during a military air strike carried out by the US-led international coalition in Salahuddin, Iraq. The air raid had also completely destroyed their hideout. The success of this mission was the result of a joint cooperation with Iraq’s National Intelligence Service in targeting the location in Tal Thahab. Daesh militants frequently carry out attacks in the area known as the “Triangle of Death” between Kirkuk, Salajuddin and Diyala.

Iyad Mansour Al-Nimrawi, a Daesh commander, was killed during a security operation that was carried out by the Popular Mobilisation Unit (Hashd al Sha’abi) in Baiji District, Iraq. Al-Nimrawi was the senior logistics officer for the group who was responsible for data transfer for the Daesh network and providing them with logistics assistance including transportations.

In Kirkuk Province in Iraq, two Khabbaz oil wells were set ablaze by explosives but no loss of lives were reported. The technical team managed to isolate the burning wells before they could affect overall production that can generate over 25,000 barrels per day. In a statement shared on Telegram, Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack but provided no evidence to support their claim.

Meanwhile, 40 terrorists were killed in a clash with the Egyptian force in North Sinai, Egypt. Nine soldiers and two officers were also killed. The Egyptian air force destroyed 437 terrorist hideouts, during which 25 militants were killed. Another 15 terrorists were killed in a separate operation. The Egyptian forces destroyed 6 four-wheel drives, 32 motorcycles, 5 tunnels, dismantled 159 explosive devices, found weapons and wireless communications and arrested more than 20 suspected terrorists.

Global Decline In Terrorist Attacks Masks Rise In Right-Wing Extremism

The Institute of Economic Peace (IEP) recently compiled and published the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, using data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to study terrorism’s impact on 163 countries. The GTD dataset, maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, includes over 170,000 terrorist incidents from 1970 to 2019. The top 10 countries most affected by terrorism are Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines. However, according to the Index, deaths from terrorism have fallen globally for five straight years – with 2019 showing a 15 percent decrease from the previous year, even as instances of far-right terrorism have risen in many western countries. This decrease is attributed to the decline in the level of violence in the Middle East and the disintegration of Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The four groups primarily responsible for the most deaths in 2019 were the Taliban, Boko Haram, Daesh and Al-Shabaab.

The collapse of Daesh’s caliphate in 2017 and ongoing counter-terrorism operations in Iraq and Syria have reduced the impact of Daesh-related terrorism around the world. As a result, the number of fatalities caused by Daesh are at the lowest since 2013. Even so, countries are still struggling with the repatriation of their nationals who went to Syria to become foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) for Daesh. At the same time, IEP’s analysis found that terrorism-related deaths have decreased in most regions like the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Some regions experienced serious increases in terrorist activity such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Sri Lanka, for instance, saw a large increase in deaths from terrorist violence due to the Easter Sunday bombing attack perpetrated by Daesh-linked perpetrators which saw 266 people dead. Nevertheless, radical Islamist-related terrorism is declining globally.

New trends are emerging with the rise of far-right and white supremacist movements. Several western countries are facing a serious increase of far-right terrorism, by as much as 250% in the last five years. There were 49 far-right terrorist incidents with 89 deaths in 2019 – of which the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand accounted for 51. While much of Western counter-terrorism efforts are focused on jihadi terrorism, far-right terrorism is proving to be a growing threat in recent years due to the shifting political landscape, with increased polarisation and divisive populist movements encouraging the use of violence to achieve political ends.

Although terrorism-related deaths have declined in Afghanistan, this remains the country most affected by terrorism, followed by Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Somalia. The Afghan economy is severely affected by terrorism. The imminent withdrawal of US troops suggests that the threat of violent Islamist terrorism will not subside. Multiple ongoing insurgencies fuel the terror. The growing presence of Daesh’s chapter in the Khorasan – the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) – looms over the peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Qatar. As Daesh Central struggles to recover itself in Iraq and Syria, many of its fighters have decamped to join ISKP. ISKP has been responsible for most of the terrorism-related fatalities in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, including an attack in Kabul University this year which left 22 students dead and 22 others wounded.

According to IEP’s findings, Malaysia ranked 76 out of 163 nations listed in order of those most affected by terrorism, while the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia ranked 10, 21, 25 and 37 respectively. Religious extremism remains the main driver of political violence in the Philippines and Indonesia. The three deadliest terrorist groups in the Philippines are the communist New People’s Army (NPA), Daesh, and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). ASG, which is also recognised as the Islamic State of East Asia Province, was responsible for this year’s deadliest incident in the Philippines which saw twin bomb attacks detonated in Jolo, in the southern Philippines province of Sulu, killing 14 people and wounding 25 others. Even as the Philippines security forces are actively carrying out anti-terrorism operations throughout the south of the country, Daesh-affiliated radical groups remain active in recruiting and training new members to carry out more operations and launch attacks.

The Covid-19 pandemic was expected to provide terrorist groups with an opportunity to regroup, plot attacks, drive narratives that encourage divisiveness, and increase recruitment. However, the pandemic has also proven to be disruptive and presented operational challenges. For instance, lockdowns in Indonesia have caused Daesh supporters and sympathisers to suffer a severe loss of income, which resulted in declining revenues for pro-Daesh cells in the country, making it difficult to carry out operations. The lockdowns have also reduced crowds, making them less attractive as attack targets.

But some primary drivers of terrorist activity remain unchanged. Grievance and weak rule of law are associated with terrorism across the board, with growing socio-economic and political instability a reflection of social disenfranchisement and exclusion. Therefore, countries engaging in counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation efforts must still consider improving social and economic conditions to diminish motivations for joining any violent political movements. A key challenge for developing countries remains addressing existing schisms in the communal fault lines concerning racial or religious tensions, and tackling corruption, all of which fuel sympathies for terrorist movements.

News Roundup, Week of 4 December, 2020

As Afghan government and Taliban representatives resumed their peace negotiations in Qatar, violence continue to unfold in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the wake of a deadly attack unleashed by the East Indonesian Mujahideen (MIT) in Sulawesi, Indonesia is on alert.


Earlier this week, the MIT orchestrated an attack against a village in the sleepy Lembantongoa hamlet in Sigi, Central Sulawesi, which caused hundreds of residents to flee their homes. The pro-Daesh militants torched homes and killed four farmers who were members of the local Salvation Army Church – one of them was decapitated while another was immolated. This latest episode was one of the most violent incidents ever launched by the MIT under Ali Kalora’s leadership. The presence of MIT in Sigi may also be an indication that MIT is moving out of Palu and Poso areas due to the active counterterrorism operations conducted in the two areas. In response to the spate of MIT violence in the region, the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) sent a reinforcement of 30 people to Poso to aid the ongoing counterterrorism operation, Operation Tinombala.


Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a suicide car bomber struck an army commando base in Ghazni, killing 31 people and injuring 24 others. All of them were security personnels. The attacker, who was later identified as Asmatullah Hamid, had detonated a Humvee filled with explosives. The attack was believed to have been masterminded by Hamza Waziristani, a Taliban militant. That very evening, the Afghanistan army succeeded in hunting and killing Waziristani in eastern Ghazni. Seven other terrorists were also killed during the air strike. In a separate incident on the same day, another suicide bomber detonated a vehicle in Qalat in the southern region of Zabul, targeting the provincial council chief, Atta Jan Haqbayan, who survived the attempted assassination.

News Roundup, Week of 27 November, 2020

This week saw Philippines security forces continue to sustain pressure on militants in the Southern Philippines. Meanwhile, Singaporean authorities made several terrorism-related arrests under the country’s Internal Security Act (ISA). Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) announced their new commander, five months after the death of their previous emir.


There were two separate clashes involving the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Philippines’ Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 in the Barangay Area, Sulu earlier this week. The first gun battle resulted in the death of Hatib Munap Binda, an ASG subleader who operated in Kalingalan Caluang and Panamo. Binda who joined ASG in 2002 was responsible for a series of kidnap-for-ransom (KSR) activities in the area. In a separate location, a second confrontation ensued between the security forces with another group led by Sansibar Bensio, also an ASG subleader active in KFR based in Panamao. During this encounter, Sansibar’s father Bensio Barahama was killed. Meanwhile in Singapore, 26-year old Bangladeshi labourer, Ahmed Faysal, was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for his involvement in terrorism activities. Faysal, who arrived in Singapore in 2017, became acquainted with Daesh materials online in 2018, which he translated into Bengali for dissemination. Faysal had planned to go to Syria to join Daesh. In 2019, Faysal had expressed his support for Hayat Tahrir al-Syam and donated money to the group. He also expressed his support for Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. 


Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a video announcement of their new chief, Abu Ubaidan Yusef al-Annabi to replace their first leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel (alias Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud). Droukdel was killed in a clash with the French forces during a counterterrorism operation by last June. Al-Annabi, who came from Annaba, Algeria, is AQIM’s senior member. He once led AQIM’s Council of Notables since 2010 and played a key role in AQ’s messaging. In July 2011, Al-Annabi was the first AQIM member to pledge bay’ah to Ayman al-Zawahiri soon after Osama bin Laden’s death. Al-Annabi came to prominence in 2013 over his call to Muslims to revolt against French interference in Mali. Al-Annabi’s appointment signals AQIM’s continued interest in driving out French influence and interests from Algeria, Maghreb, Sahara, Sahel, Mali, Libya, and Tunisia. Although Al-Annabi has a strong influence amongst AQIM followers, he will be facing various challenges. AQIM’s position in Algeria has weakened as the group has to compete with other armed movements, including Daesh. AQIM’s wing, namely Jama’a Nusrat aul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), recently clashed with Daesh network. This appointment of AQIM’s new leader is significant to AQIM in defending its position in Algeria through JNIM.

News Roundup, Week of 20 November, 2020

In a startling report, The New York Times revealed that intelligence officials have confirmed that Al-Qaeda’s deputy Emir, Abdullah Ahmed Abdulla aka Abu Muhammad al-Masri, had been slain in Iran on 7 August 2020 – exactly twenty-two years after he allegedly orchestrated the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Al-Masri, who was anticipated to replace Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s reclusive chief, was driving along the streets of Tehran with his daughter, Maryam, next to him when he was gunned down by two assassins riding on a motorcycle. Various reports suggested that Maryam, who was the widow to Osama bin Laden’s late son Hamza bin Laden, was no mere unfortunate casualty in the shooting but was also herself a target of high value because she was being groomed for a leadership role in al-Qaeda, and intelligence suggested she was involved in operational planning. The assassination was kept a secret until recently. Simultaneously, credible news are circulating that al-Zawahiri himself has passed away last month from natural causes in his domicile in an undisclosed location. Al-Zawahiri, who stepped up to lead Al-Qaeda after bin Laden’s death in 2011, was reportedly to have been suffering from ailing health. While these claims have been unverified, nevertheless they pose some serious questions about the organisation’s future. With Al-Masri’s untimely demise, their deaths could potentially underscore a serious blow to Al-Qaeda and their operations. The last remaining old guard, Saif Al-Adel who is reportedly living in Iran, is rumoured to be next in line. 


Two members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) were shot dead by Indonesian counterterrorism unit Densus 88 during Operation Tinombala, a joint police and military task force, in West Desa Bolano, Palu in Sulawesi. Both suspects were wanted for their involvement in terrorist activities in Sulawesi. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, 19-year old Faharuden Hadji Sapilin (aka Abu Abbas), a member of Dawlah Islamiyah (DI), had surrendered himself to the 5th Infantry Battalion in Lanao del Sur, Southern Philippines. Previously, Faharuden had been involved in clashes with the security forces in Pagayawan, Marogong dan Tubaran di Lanao del Sur. Separately, in Parang Town, Maguindanao, three members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) had surrendered to the security forces as well. They were part of BIFF’s cell, Kagi Karialan, and had acted as couriers for the BIFF network operating in Maguindanao.


Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has been removed from the country’s terror list as there is no credible evidence to support that ETIM poses a threat, a move welcomed by the The Uighur Human Rights Project based in Washington, DC. ETIM was listed in UN’s list of global terrorist organisation in 2002 and US’ terror list in 2004 during the George W. Bush administration following the War on Terror campaign at the time.

News Roundup, Week of 13 November, 2020

Against the backdrop of escalating violence in Afghanistan due to the failed peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Democrat Joe Biden has won the 2020 United States (US) election to become the 46th US President after an intense week of vote tallying as the country grapples with an ever-rising Covid-19 death toll. President Donald Trump has refused to concede and is seeking to challenge the results. Undaunted, President-elect Biden is pushing forward with transition despite the incumbent President Trump blocking government officials from cooperating with Biden’s team and preventing him from accessing State Department resources and communiqués with foreign governments. Earlier this week, a defiant Biden unveiled his Covid-19 response task force that promises to harness the power of science to battle the pandemic. On the global stage, the Biden administration can be expected to reestablish US credibility and rebuild trust with allied countries. Afghan officials are hopeful that Biden would review the Afghan peace process and adopt a tougher stance on the militant group to “encourage” them to negotiate fairly and reduce their violence.


Meanwhile, earlier this week, Indonesia’s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 arrested seven terror suspects at separate locations in a series of raids. Five of them are members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cell, while the remaining two are suspected members of the Daesh-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). Among those who were arrested was Ahmad Zaini (alias Ahyar/Epson), a suspected leader of JI. While these arrests suggest that JI and JAD members have been active in pursuing funds and arming themselves, however Indonesian government’s strict Covid-19 lockdown has also posed some restrictions on their day jobs and activities. A recent research by Indonesian NGO, PAKAR, these lockdowns have caused IS supporters and sympathisers to suffer from a severe loss of income. In turn, this has resulted in declining revenues for Jamaah Ansharud Daulah, Jamaah Ansharul Khilafah, and other pro-Daesh cells in Indonesia. This lack of funds have impacted these organisations’ capabilities. Previously, many experts predicted that pro-Daesh groups would attempt to exploit Covid-19 to regroup and plot attacks against their enemies, but as the year goes by, it appears that Daesh adherents are also people who are beleaguered by the challenges of the “new normal” imposed by the pandemic.


Two prominent Afghanistan journalists were killed within one week apart from each other. Former TV presenter Yama Siawash and two others were killed when a bomb attached to his car exploded near his home in Kabul earlier this week. Days later, radio journalist Elyas Dayee was killed in a targeted bomb blast in Helmand. No one has claimed responsibility for both attacks, though it is suspected that the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network was responsible for Siawash’s death. Meanwhile, four people were killed and 40 others were injured when a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting a police headquarters in Maiwand district, south of Kandahar province exploded. Separately, Mohammad Hanif, a key member of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was killed in a security operation organised by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in the Bakwa district of Farah province located in the western part of the country. Hanif, who was originally from Karachi, Pakistan, was a bomb-maker for the group. Initially, Hanif was a Taliban member who trained Taliban fighters in building bombs and IEDs before switching membership and joined Al-Qaeda in 2010. Hanif was also the vice Emir and a close aide to Asim Omar who led AQIS before he was killed in 2019 during a joint operation by the US and Afghanistan. Hanif’s death occurred just two weeks after another high-ranking AQ member, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, was killed by security operatives. While his passing would suggest that AQ is experiencing a strategic loss that may impact their leadership, nevertheless AQ as a group can be expected to remain resilient.


A group of militants attacked an Iraqi lookout point maintained by the Hashd al-Shaabi in Al-Radwaniyah, southwest of Baghdad earlier this week. The attackers used grenades and automatic weapons, which left eleven people dead and eight wounded during the clash. This incident was reportedly the deadliest attack on Iraqi security forces in months. Since Daesh’s defeat by the end of 2017, the US-led military coalition has reduced their presence in the country. Nevertheless, the group still poses a significant threat in the area. Daesh sleeper cells have been waging guerilla-style attacks on local military and security forces. Meanwhile, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, three people were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded during a World War I remembrance ceremony at the city’s non-Muslim cemetery. The French consulate had organised the commemoration event, which was attended by staffers from foreign diplomatic missions, including Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and the US. The attack occurred at a time when tension between France and a number of Islamic countries is at an all-time high, stemming from French President Emmanuel Macron’s defiant defense of Charlie Hebdo’s republication of Prophet Muhammad’s SAW’s offensive caricatures. Daesh has claimed responsibility for both of these attacks. Given that the verdict from the Charlie Hebdo 2015 trial will be reached sometime this month, there are some concerns that more violence can be anticipated in the horizon from both Islamist and the Far Right supporters who are looking to exploit the current political friction.


Oil and gas rich-Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique witnessed a particularly gruesome week when the Daesh-linked Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWJ) attacked Nanjaba Village and Muatide Village. The militants burned down homes and abducted women and children. The insurgents also herded more than 50 people to a football pitch in Muatide Village before beheading and dismembering them. Authorities only learned about the massacre accounts of individuals who discovered the scattered remains. In 2019, Daesh declared that ASWJ was part of its branch of the Central Africa Province (ISCAP), which also includes the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) jihadists. ASWJ has been responsible for most of the increasing aggression and instability in Mozambique, and has been escalating violence the area in recent months.

News Roundup, Week of 5 November, 2020


This week had a particularly violent start, with what appeared to be a coordinated terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria as the city was about to enter COVID-19 lockdown on Monday, 2 November, 2020 . Early reports suggested that the shooting occurred in six different locations across the city centre. The shooting began at 2000 hrs local time close to the Seitenstettengasse Temple, which is the city’s main synagogue. Four people were killed and 23 others were wounded during the attack. The gunman was shot dead by police. Since then, the authorities have determined that the gunman was acting alone. He was later identified as 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai, who had both Austrian and Macedonian citizenship. He was previously convicted and jailed for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS. He was released early on parole last December.


Earlier on the same day, Kabul University was stormed by gunmen. At least 22 were killed and 22 others were injured during the siege which lasted for several hours. Most of those killed were students of the university. The attack started when government officials were arriving for the opening of an Iranian book fair organised on campus, which was attended by several dignitaries at the time of the shooting. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) has since claimed the attack which rocked the Afghanistan capital.


On 3rd November, the Philippine military successfully intercepted the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the midst of their plannings to carry out kidnapping activities in mainland Mindanao. Seven suspected members of ASG were killed following the encounter at sea. Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan, one of ASG’s top leaders and the designated Daesh emir in Mindanao, was one of the confirmed deaths during the clash. Three other deaths were identified as Mannul Sawadjaan, Mujapar Sawadjaan, and Madsmar Sawadjaan. Mannul and Mujapar were cousins of ASG bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan, who is believed to have masterminded last August’s twin-suicide bombing in Jolo, while Madsmar was Mundi’s brother. The Jolo attack saw 14 dead and 75 wounded.