Weekly Analyst Review
BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: PBS Frontline has released two videos teasing a much anticipated interview with Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham's (HTS) Leader, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani. It should be noted that despite Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham's attempt to present itself as the leader of the people and the representative of the revolution in this Frontline interview, HTS appears to be resented by the people. Locals have repeatedly spoken of the group's many injustices and offering testimony of kidnappings, looting and murder that is in direct contrast to Joulani's statements in the interview. In a recently released controversial video, HTS is said to have also created a new Children's brigade, Jaish al-Fatihin, which is a violation of international law and punishable as a war crime. However, while some claim that the released video was meant to only to be circulated within HTS, others who defend HTS assert that the Assad regime circulated an old video to hinder HTS' efforts to be recognized internationally.
Images (Above): Owerri Prison entrance after bombing.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Unknown Gunmen Free At Least 1,800 Inmates and Set Facility on Fire in Massive Break in Owerri Prison in Imo State, Southern Nigeria
In the pre-dawn hours of 05 April 2021, at least 30 gunmen stormed the Owerri Prison, detonating a bomb at the entrance. The gunmen remained unchallenged for at least 75 minutes as inmates flowed out of the prison compound, with early estimates of 1,800-3,000 escapees. The Imo Governor blames the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the Owerri Prison break, but IPOB immediately issued a statement denying that they took any part of the prison break. There are several other separatist groups that represent the Igbo indigenous people, like the IPOB that operate in Imo State. In 2020, Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) attempted to reach out to the Igbo peoples by translating claims and propaganda into their language and Boko Haram has been known to recruit Igbo into their rank and file since 2014. While quite capable of executing a prison break of this scale, it would be novel if either ISWA or Boko Haram helped with the Owerri Prison break because it is completely out of their areas of operation.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Boko Haram (Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad) Releases Video Downing Aircraft in What Appears to be Newly Acquired Guided Air Defense Systems in Sambisa Forest, Borno, Northern Nigeria
On 01 April 2021 the Nigerian Air Force announced it had lost contact with an Alpha Jet flying over the Sambisa forest in Northern Nigeria. On 02 April 2021, Boko Haram released a video showing the downing of a Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet; it is possible this is the same aircraft that went missing. Dr. Obadiah Mailafia states that Boko Haram, bandits and Fulani Herdsmen all are acquiring more sophisticated weapons. Based on this video, it seems that Boko Haram has recently acquired Guided Air Defense Systems. However, after video analysis, the Nigerian military declared that Boko Haram's video was doctored. The thin smoke trail directly above the aircraft after its explosion does not coincide with the trajectory of the aircraft. However, the explosion and smoke trail are identical to a video of the explosion of a helicopter over the Syrian city of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, near Idlib, in 2012.
Images Above: Screenshots from Boko Haram Video
Images: (Above) Screenshots from video taken during the armed assault.
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Suspected Primeiro Commando de Capital (PCC) Armed Assault on At Least Three Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco Mercantil do Brasil Banking Institutions in Mococa, São Paulo, Brazil 
On 07 April 2021, an unknown number of hooded men began shooting out the windows and doors with machine guns on at least three separate banking institutions (some reports have the number as high as seven banks) across Mococa City within the State of São Paulo, Brazil. There were further reports that IEDs were used on ATM machines at the banks as well. After taking an unknown amount of cash from the banks, the gunmen circled the city shooting at random businesses at will. The assailants escaped in at least 8-10 vehicles on a road that leads to Igaraí district, also in Mococa. The bank raids come on the same day that employers pay their staff; the banks being full of new cash was likely the motivation for a Wednesday to have been chosen. The perpetrators are suspected to be Primeiro Commando de Capital (PCC) because of the recent crackdown against the group in international arms smuggling and narcotics operations.
On Our Radar:
TRAC INCIDENT REPORT: Serial Arsonist Razes Three Masonic Lodges in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
TRAC Incident Report: Deliberate Vehicle Attack on US Capitol Police at Access Point on Constitution Avenue, US Capitol Building, Washington DC, United States
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2021 Past Newsletters