[Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk(*) for the reader's awareness.]
Below are the takeaways from the week:
Iranian hardliners may refrain from organizing future anti-President Hassan Rouhani protests in order to avoid public backlash. The IRGC dismissed two senior commanders * tied to the staging of anti-Rouhani demonstrations in Qom in mid August. Public figures expressed * outrage due to implicit death threats levied against Rouhani during the protests. Regime hardliners may rely on less overt methods to undermine Rouhani and his reformist platform in the future. For more insight, read the CTP Iran File—a new weekly synthesis and forecast of political and economic developments in Iran. See the October 11 edition: “Forthcoming U.S. sanctions sound death knell for the Rouhani administration.”
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa, al Shabaab, has weathered intensified U.S. direct action operations to retain its area of operations in Somalia and eastern Kenya, as a new map by Analyst James Barnett demonstrates. Al Shabaab continues to undermine the Somali state, conducting twin suicide bombings this week to derail a contentious regional election in southern Somalia. The latest attacks come one year after the deadliest terror attack * in Somalia’s history, in which al Shabaab killed nearly 600 people in Mogadishu.
The Salafi-jihadi movement, which includes al Qaeda and ISIS, is growing in West Africa. The Mali-based branch of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is promoting its expansion into Burkina Faso, where attacks targeting security forces and the mining industry have escalated this year. Another group, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), has also expanded in Mali and Burkina Faso, as Senior Analyst Emily Estelle illustrates in a new graphic.
In the coming weeks, Research Fellow Katherine Zimmerman will release a report on how Salafi-jihadi groups have adapted to U.S. counterterrorism policy. Revisit Zimmerman’s work in “America’s Real Enemy: The Salafi-Jihadi Movement,” in which she argues that the U.S. has misdefined its enemy in the war on terror.