Update and Assessment: January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016

Key Takeaways:

  1. Libyan Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) cells demonstrated a high level of coordination by conducting a large-scale spectacular attack on security forces in support of an ongoing campaign to seize Libyan oil infrastructure. ISIS Wilayat Tarablus detonated a large suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at a police training camp in Zliten, Libya on January 7 and described the attack as part of the “Invasion of Abu al Mughira al Qahtani,” which is an operation focused on taking over Libya’s oil infrastructure. ISIS Wilayat Tarablus likely executed the Zliten attack to prevent or deter security forces from responding to ongoing offensive operations at the al Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil terminals, conducted by ISIS Wilayat Barqa. These concurrent actions demonstrate not only significant coordination between ISIS cells in Libya, but also the exportation of military knowledge, explosives expertise, and leadership capabilities from ISIS core to Libya.
  2. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is conducting media campaigns meant to both enhance the group’s local legitimacy in Yemen and reaffirm its status in the global jihadist community. The group released a video of operations in Taiz city, where AQAP militants are leveraging the al Houthi fight to build relationships with local militias, including tribal fighters and local Salafi groups. AQAP also released an audio statement from its chief bombmaker, Ibrahim al Asiri, likely in an effort to capitalize on al Asiri’s notoriety and highlight AQAP’s credentials as a leader of jihad against the West. 
  3. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its associates may be resurging in Mali. An intercepted letter from AQIM-linked Ansar al Din to an associated militant group, the Macina Liberation Front, called for increased attacks against isolated Malian army posts.