Weekly Analyst Review

BOTTOM LINE UPFRONT: TRAC Senior Analyst Daniel Lebowitz continues our monthly roll-up of Islamic States attacks world-wide. He notes that Islamic State affiliates in Africa were especially active in December. They conducted deadly raids on Christian areas in multiple countries with relative impunity last month- the on-camera execution of Christians abducted by the West African affiliate (ISWA) in Adamawa state, northeast Nigeria on 29 December is but one of the most glaring examples. The branch of Islamic State Central Africa (ISCA) that operates in northeast Congo (DRC) are running roughshod over Beni district in North Kivu province, raiding villages and burning barracks before security forces can respond. Claimed operations are in a sense but a snapshot of the overall carnage in Congo (DRC) and Mozambique, as little credible information and on-the-ground reportage is readily available. ISCA operations in Mozambique have been deemed so dangerously close to Total Gas Company's LNG construction site that the company issued a partial evacuation of employees in late December. Overall, officially claimed operations in both the Congo and northeast Nigeria rose this month and will most likely continue to do so.
In Afghanistan, Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) magnetic IED bombings in Kabul remain a near daily occurrence. Government employees traveling to work have had their vehicles destroyed by the 'sticky bombs,' and scores have been killed. In Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar and the other city where ISK are most active, a female journalist and activist was shot and killed, while a provincial councilor died when his car was destroyed by a yet another magnetic IED. Islamic State in Syria continues to utilize the desert region south of Deir ez-Zor in northeast Syria to conduct ambushes on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units charged with trying to secure the area. Two military convoys traveling on remote stretches of the Homs-Deir ez-Zor highway were ambushed by IS militants this month, and in one case at least forty soldiers were killed. Our complete report includes totals for Islamic State Claims of credit by region and is accessible through your account.
Top Incidents & Analysis
Images (top): Inaugural issue of Arakan Magazine; (below) New unofficial media house logo.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Arrukn Media Center (Islamic State Arakan / Katibat al-Mahdi Fi Bilad Arakan): Arkan Magazine Issue #1 "A Call To Hijrah" Myanmar
On 2 January, Arrukn Media center released the first issue of its new magazine 'Arkan'. Arkan is released in English and targets Westerners. It consists of several articles calling for jihad and Hijrah in Burma as part of Islamic State's new proxy Islamic State Arakan. Though expansion into Myanmar is completely consistent with Islamic State's motto ever 'remaining & expanding', it is unclear if Islamic State will recognize this new unofficial media house, Arrukn Media Center. From the original bayah in November 2020 to the issuing of the first edition magazine, it appears that Katibat al-Mahdi Fi Bilad Arakan is reaching out to Islamic State for approval. Opposed to the more traditional Islamic State approach of infiltrating a local group and declaring a new franchise created from an existing group. Equally unclear is the relationship between Myanmar's largest Muslim rebel group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Katibat al-Mahdi Fi Bilad Arakan, if any at all.
Based on the language used in the magazine, the target audience are English speakers and those who understand spoken Arabic but unable to read Arabic. The text of the magazine is written in traditional Arabic letters, horof, as well as written phonetically in English and an English translation is also provided.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: MILF Kill 7 BIFF Fighters After Abu Turaife's Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF-JMWA / ISEA) Faction Attacked Army Outpost in Barangay Tuka, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Philippines
On 30 December, around 05:00 local time, BIFF-JMWA attempted to take an army outpost with 30 motorcycles and light vehicles in the village of Tuka. Unsuccessful, the jihadists fled toward the towns of Shariff Saidona Mustapha and Shariff Aguak in a convoy of motorcycles and light vehicles. Samad Simpat-led MILF forces blocked their route and a fire fight ensued leaving seven BIFF-JMWA fighters dead. Given the location, the fighters likely were operating under the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF / ISEA) Unit known as Jamaah Mohajirin Wal Ansar (JMWA) led by Esmael Abdulmaguid aka Abu Turaipe aka Bongos. Police have been actively hunting Abu Turaipe in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak regions of Maguindanao since 11 July 2018. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been assisting the police in hostage negotiations with ISEA fighters as well as battling against ISEA intermittent attacks on MILF positions.
Photo (above): Area of attack; (below) map location.
Image: (Top) Execution. (Below) ISK Claim
TRAC Incident Report: Islamic State Khurasan (ISK/ ISP) kidnap and execute 11 coal miners of the Shia Hazara minority in Mach, Balochistan, Pakistan
On 2 January, at least eleven civilians were killed in a mass execution after being kidnapped on the way to work in the Mach region of Balochistan, Pakistan. 
The unfortunate coal miners were apparently members of the Hazara minority, which would explain why Islamic State would target them. In fact, the eleven Hazara were separated from their coworkers and taken to a nearby mountainous area and were shot en masse. At least six were confirmed killed while others were transported to the hospital with critical injuries. Though Baloch separatists often claim operations against the Pakistani military and Chinese interests in Balochistan, they do not target local workers. ISK-P, however, regularly target Shia; in November 2020 the Shia Hazara Community was also targeted by ISK in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. ISK in Afghanistan has consistently targeted people in Kabul on their way to work; ISK-P maybe adopting the same tactic.
On Our Radar:
TRAC's Weekly Analyst Review is a small curated list of many events.
For more events TRAC is monitoring click here
or click here to sign up for a demo.
Attend Weekly Analyst Briefing
As many of our clients know, we invite one organization a week to sit in on our Analyst Briefing. The briefings take place at 10 AM US eastern time and last an hour. We meet virtually in TRAC's online conference center.

If your organization is interested in attending, please schedule with the link below. We look forward to having you join us and ask questions.
2021 Past Newsletters