Situation Report Threat Update

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The Editors

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Threat Update Situation Report

Authors

The Editors

Latest Edition

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The Critical Threats Project releases a weekly update and assessment on the al Qaeda network.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The loss of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham’s (ISIS) stronghold in Sirte may not significantly reduce the group’s threat to European targets. U.S.-backed forces allied with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) seized ISIS’s headquarters in Sirte on August 10. ISIS will survive the loss of Sirte. The group may already have plans to conduct attacks in Italy and ties to a cell in Milan, Italy, according to documents recovered in Sirte. CIA director John Brennan assessed in June 2016 that ISIS in Libya has the capability and intent to attack beyond Libya’s borders, including across the Mediterranean Sea. [See Frederick W. Kagan and Emily Estelle’s “ISIS Loses Headquarters in Sirte, Libya.” Keep up with CTP’s Libya work here.]
  2. A U.S.-supported Somali special forces raid may have killed al Shabaab emir Ahmad Umar. The pace of operations to degrade al Shabaab’s leadership may not be rapid enough to disrupt al Shabaab’s activities. The death of Umar, who had suppressed pro-ISIS sentiment in al Shabaab, may facilitate the integration of some al Shabaab factions into ISIS’s network. [Read CTP’s backgrounder on Ahmad Umar.]
  3. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) withdrawal from population centers in southern Yemen is a short-term setback that will not weaken the group in the long term. Yemeni government and Saudi-led coalition forces drove AQAP from Azzan, Shabwah governorate on August 9 and Zinjibar, Ja’ar, and al Shaqra in Abyan governorate on August 14. AQAP withdrew to preserve its capabilities in Abyan governorate in 2012. The group will again maintain its ties to the local population and set conditions to resurge in the future. [See Katherine Zimmerman’s post on AQAP’s retreat from al Mukalla in April 2016. Keep up to date on Yemen with CTP’s Situation Reports.]