Weekly Analyst Review
BOTTOM LINE UPFRONT: On 02 February 2021, United States' Frontline PBS reporter, Martin Smith, posted a photo with Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham's (HTS) leader during his 3-days visit in Idlib, Syria. He mentioned that during his visit they talked about 9/11, AQ, Baghdadi and the United States. When Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham / HTS changed its name from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS /Conquest of al-Sham Front) / Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) / Nusra Front, it wanted to not only cut its ties to al-Qaeda but also wanted to be seen as a legitimate governing force. However, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani is a veteran jihadist with a history that is hard to separate from their desires for legitimacy. To this end, in September 2020, HTS told a Syrian Television station that it had intended to abandon suicide missions as a way to change the optics of the group. Even taking suicide bombings out of their war chest tools, they have remained a dangerous destabilizer in Idlib and the surrounding areas under their control with their battlefield operations, kidnappings and assassinations. Despite HTS's efforts to be considered by the international community as a legitimate actor, in November 2020, the United States Department of Justice offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham's (HTS) leader, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani. In addition, in a US report on International Religious Freedoms in December 2020, HTS was considered an 'entity of particular concern.' It is worth mentioning that although Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham tries to present itself as the leader of the people in Idlib and the surrounding areas, it is increasingly clear that the group is extremely resented by the people in the areas that they control and was recently targeted by a new group called Abu Bakr al-Sidiq Battalion who vowed to avenge for HTS's injustices and crimes in Idlib and its surroundings. It seems a slippery slope for a wanted man with a $10 million bounty on his head to be given an interview with an American journalist, in an effort to receive international recognition as a legitimate organization; however, what revelations come out during the interview remain to be seen.
Top Incidents & Analysis for
Image (Above): Items seized inside safe house near UAE embassy in Addis Ababa.
Image (Below): Map of Addis Ababa
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Security Forces Arrest 15 with Weapons and Explosives in Foreign Plot to Attack the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On 04 February 2021, Ethiopia's National Intelligence Service arrested a 15-member cell of an unspecified 'terrorist group' plotting an attack on the UAE embassy in Addis Ababa. In the released statement the group had been under surveillance since November 2020, under the leadership of foreign operative operating out of Sweden. The local ringleader of the group was identified as 35-year-old Ali Ahmed Adaito. The arrests were prompted when the militants set up a safe house near the embassy; ​​arms, explosives and documents were seized from said safe house. Some of those arrested in Ethiopia were European citizens. Additionally, the released Ethiopian statement also indicated there is a second group of militants who were preparing an identical attack on the UAE embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The leader of both cells has been identified as Ahmed Ismael and has been arrested in Sweden where he is a permanent resident. According to Ethiopian security officials, at least 21 more members of the group may remain at large though it is unclear where. There have been no arrests made in Sudan or the UAE at the time of this writing. Motivations are unclear at this time; however, the purported dual plot on UAE Embassies could have the common thread of UAE's normalization with Israel in the Abraham Accords,signed on 6 January 2021 by Sudan. Indeed, Israeli intelligence immediately claimed Iran was behind the two cells, since Iran vowed revenge after General Qassem Soleimani and top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh were killed in 2020.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) Responsible for Targeted Assassination of Appeals Court Judge, Hafizullah, in Jalalabad, Nangarhar, Afghanistan
On the morning of 03 February 2021, an appeals court judge, Judge Hafizullah, was assassinated while traveling to work in a rickshaw in urban PD 4, Jalalabad, Nangarhar, Afghanistan. Given the target, tactic and location, it is not surprising that Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) claimed credit for this operation. This is the fifth Judge to have been assassinated since the beginning of 2021. ISK fighters often pick the busy morning rush hour to target their victims. Waves of sticky bombs and assassinations while people are on their way to work have plagued the urban areas of both Jalalabad and Kabul for the past six months.
Image (above): The rickshaw the Judge was traveling in when he was assassinated.
Images: (Top) Proud Boys Chair Enrique Tarrio

(Below) Telegram Screenshot of Tarrio's response to the threat of being named a domestic terrorist organization.
Proud Boys Leader, Enrique Tarrio, Threatens to Sue if Designated a Terrorist Organization, United States
On 03 February 2021, Canada became the first nation in the world to officially designate The Proud Boys as a terrorist group. Indeed, The Proud Boys enjoy substantial support in Canada and Proud Boy rhetoric has increasingly become more violent as more arrests of its members have been made. After Enrique Tarrio's arrest in Washington, DC two days before the storming of the US Federal Capitol building, the group adopted the much more hard line stance "there is no political solution." The phrase "there is no political solution" is used by extreme far right circles to imply that the only solution is violence. The fallout from the recent revelation that Proud Boys Chair Enrique Tarrio was secretly a federal informant is likely the impetus for this brash announcement from Tarrio, indicating that he would sue the US federal government if The Proud Boys were labeled a domestic terrorist organization. To the best of our knowledge, if it comes to fruition, this would be the first lawsuit of its kind. It should be noted that in May 2020, in response to former President Trump's declaration that he would designate ANTIFA as terrorist group, experts were quick to point out that there was no legal way for Trump to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization under current law. The United States only has the authority to designate foreign groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) or Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.
On Our Radar:
Two Remote Controlled Ping-Pong Bombs Explode Outside Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand
(Cyber) Hackers Tried to Poison Water Supply of Oldsmar, Pinellas County, Florida, United States
New Militant Group MDCJ/RCA Declared in Northern Prefectures of Central African Republic
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