Salafi-Jihadi Global Tracker
The Salafi-Jihadi Global Tracker provides analysis and assessments of major developments related to the Salafi-jihadi movement.
Salafi-Jihadi Global Tracker: Islamic State Media Exaggerates Strength and Cohesion in Revenge Campaign
Key Takeaway: The Islamic State (IS) announced a global attack campaign to exaggerate its strength and cohesion following senior leaders’ deaths, continuing a pattern from prior years. This attack campaign is an effort to brand ongoing IS affiliate activity as a coordinated effort and does not indicate a noteworthy change in IS global capabilities. Some participating affiliates expanded the scope of their attacks during the campaign. These inflections likely reflect the affiliates’ preexisting objectives rather than new IS leadership guidance, however.
IS continued a trend of promoting a global named operation in the aftermath of a senior leadership change. The IS spokesperson, Abu Umar al Muhajir, announced the “Revenge Battle for the Two Sheikhs” campaign on April 17 and called on supporters to conduct attacks to avenge the deaths of late IS leader Abu Ibrahim al Qurayshi and late IS spokesperson Abu Hamza al Qurayshi. Abu Ibrahim al Qurayshi killed himself during a US raid in February 2022. The new IS spokesperson confirmed on March 10 that the late spokesperson died. IS affiliates in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, India, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and Syria have claimed attacks under the campaign as of April 29, 2022.
IS previously promoted a revenge campaign from December 22 to December 31, 2019, after the death of former IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. IS affiliates in Iraq, Nigeria, and Syria escalated attacks during this period. IS Sinai Province and IS Yemen Province also claimed attacks under this 2019 campaign. More than double the number of affiliates have participated in the 2022 campaign compared to the 2019 campaign, rising from five to 11.
The Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWA) continued to expand its area of operations during the Revenge Battle campaign. ISWA fighters detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) purportedly targeting Christian civilians in northern Taraba state, eastern Nigeria, on April 20. This attack claim is the group’s first in Taraba state, indicating a southeastward shift in its area of operations from neighboring Adamawa state. ISWA also began claiming attacks in Kogi state, central Nigeria, targeting Nigerian police on April 23. IS reporting on April 29 claimed that ISWA conducted prior attacks in Taraba in January and February 2022 and in Kogi in March 2022. These attacks extend preexisting ISWA campaigns targeting Christians and security forces into new areas of Nigeria.
ISWA has claimed several routine attacks under the Revenge Battle campaign, likely to benefit from increased media attention and demonstrate its continued allegiance to IS. ISWA activity is concentrated in northeastern Nigeria in Borno and Yobe states. The recent claimed attacks include assaults on Nigerian soldiers and Christian civilians in Borno on April 20 and April 23, an IED attack targeting Nigerian soldiers and Christian civilians in Yobe state on April 24, and four attacks targeting Christians just across Nigeria’s border in Diffa, southeastern Niger between April 22 and April 26.
Figure 1. Islamic State Affiliates in Africa Claim Attacks for Revenge Campaign: April 2022
The Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacked into Uzbekistan for the first time. ISKP fired 10 rockets at an Uzbek military base in Termez, southern Uzbekistan on April 18. ISKP has escalated its activities in Afghanistan since US forces withdrew in August 2021. ISKP did not participate in the 2019 IS revenge campaign. The April 18 attack may advance ISKP’s goal to attract more recruits from Central Asia. ISKP may be also expanding attacks during the spring and summer fighting season.
ISKP has continued targeting Afghanistan’s Shia minority and the Afghan Taliban in attacks claimed under the Revenge Battle campaign. This activity includes IED attacks on April 21, one targeting a Shia mosque in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan and another targeting airport workers on a bus in Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan. ISKP conducted two more IED attacks targeting Shia in Mazar-e Sharif on April 28. ISKP also struck the Taliban several times, including attacks in Kabul, Kunar, and Nangarhar provinces in eastern Afghanistan on April 18 and April 19.
Figure 2. Islamic State Affiliates in the Middle East and Asia Claim Attacks for Revenge Campaign: April 2022
Four weak IS affiliates claimed attacks under the April 2022 campaign to demonstrate their continued belonging to the IS network. These groups did not claim attacks under the December 2019 IS revenge campaign. The 2022 claims by IS affiliates in India, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya show continued communications between these groups and IS’s media network but do not indicate inflections in their capabilities, which are limited to intermittent attacks in remote areas. IS Hind Province (ISHP) conducted a grenade attack on an Indian police post in Srinagar in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir on April 18. ISHP has conducted approximately six minor attacks per year since its formation in 2019. The IS affiliate in Pakistan continued targeting religious minorities in Pakistan and shot a “polytheist” under the campaign on April 28 in western Pakistan. IS-Pakistan has conducted approximately eight small-scale attacks per year since 2019, similar to ISHP. The IS branch in Somalia detonated an IED and claimed to kill three Somali police officers in the capital Mogadishu on April 20. IS-Somalia has run an assassination campaign targeting Mogadishu police since 2020, and also attacks security and political personnel in northern Somalia. IS fighters in Libya detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) targeting a Libyan militia outpost near Sebha in southwestern Libya on April 18, claiming to kill one militiaman. IS-Libya debuted a VBIED capability in southwestern Libya in June 2021 but has attacked only sporadically since.
More IS affiliates will likely claim attacks under the campaign, which will likely conclude at the end of Ramadan in early May. IS Central Africa Province’s Mozambique branch, IS Sahel Province, and IS Yemen Province have not yet claimed attacks. Of these, the group most likely to participate in the Revenge Battle campaign is IS-Sahel. IS media recently began promoting IS-Sahel attacks under this name, distinguishing it from ISWA, in March 2022.
Correction on October 21, 2022: This article previously stated that ISHP and IS-Pakistan Province have only conducted approximately one to two small-scale attacks per year since 2019. It has been updated to indicate a higher number of attacks for each group.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “IS Spokesman Announces New Military Campaign, Urges Lone Wolves Exploit Ukraine War and Draw Inspiration from Recent Attacks in Israel,” April 17, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “IS Confirms Death of Leader and Announces Passing of Spokesman,” March 10, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “IS Launches Revenge Campaign for Killing of Former Leaders, Claims Attack on Russian Soldiers in Daraa,” December 22, 2019, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and SITE Intelligence Group, “Weekly inSITE on the Islamic State for December 18-24, 2019,” December 26, 2019, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “Marking Another 1st During Military Campaign, IS Claims Attack in Taraba that Targeted Bar of Nigerian Christians,” April 20, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISWAP Claims Bombing at 2nd Bar in Taraba, Expands Operations in Nigeria to Kogi State,” April 23, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISWAP Claims Attack on Nigerian Priest's House, Reveals Responsibility for Attacks in Past Months in Kogi and Taraba,” April 29, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISWAP Photo Reports Document Attacks in Bijibiji and Molai, Claims 2 Suicide Bombings in Arege and Banki,” April 22, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and SITE Intelligence Group, “Amaq Video Shows Aftermath of ISWAP Attack on Nigerian Troops in Mallam Fatori,” April 28, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISWAP Claims Bomb Blast at 3rd Bar in Nigeria in a Week,” April 25, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISWAP Claims Executing 11 Christians After Capturing Them in Niger, Concentrating Activity in Diffa,” April 26, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “In First for Group, ISKP Claims Rocket Strike in Uzbekistan and Provides Video Documentation of Launch,” April 18, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISKP Claims Blast Inside Shi'a Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif, Reports Over 100 Casualties,” April 21, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com; and SITE Intelligence Group, “After Major Attack in Mazar-e Sharif, ISKP Reports 20 Casualties in Bomb Blast on Kunduz Airport Staff,” April 21, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “ISKP Claims Blasts on Buses Carrying Shi'a Hazara in Mazar-e Sharif, Reports 30 Casualties,” April 28, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “Amaq Video Shows IS Petrol Bomb Attack on Police Post in Srinagar (Kashmir),” April 20, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “IS' Libya Province Claims Car Bombing at LNA Camp in Sabha,” April 19, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.
 SITE Intelligence Group, “Using New "Sahel Province" Designation, IS Claims Attack on Malian Army Base in Gao,” March 22, 2022, available by subscription at www.siteintelgroup.com.