- Iran continues to provide sanctuary to senior al Qaeda operatives. The U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on three senior al Qaeda members operating from Iran, describing one of the operatives, al Qaeda military committee chief Faisal Jassim Mohammed al Amri al Khalidi, as “part of a new generation of al Qaeda operatives,” in the press release. Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi served as a mediator between al Qaeda and Iranian authorities, and Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn held financial, communications, and logistical roles in the group. Iran has facilitated al Qaeda activities in the Middle East since 2005 and al Qaeda is able to move money, facilitators, and operatives through Iran.
- Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the emir of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliate al Murabitoun, denounced French intervention in Libya and called for Libyan Muslims to fight against the West. The release of the written statement by al Murabitoun’s media arm strengthens CTP’s assessment that Belmokhtar survived the June 2015 U.S. airstrike targeting a meeting of Islamist leaders in Ajdabiya, Libya. France confirmed its military presence in Libya on July 20 after three French soldiers died during a counterterrorism operation in Benghazi. [See CTP’s “Backgrounder: Fighting Forces in Libya” and “GNA-Allied Forces Seize Momentum against ISIS in Sirte” for more.]
- Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab, targeted the primary African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping base in Mogadishu on July 26. A militant detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) near the entrance of Halane Base Camp, killing at least 13 security contractors and civilians, before a second suicide bomber attempted to storm the compound. The assessed target was UN and African Union personnel. Al Shabaab attempted an SVBIED attack targeting a gathering of Somali politicians at a Mogadishu hotel on July 14, and Somali security forces disrupted an SVBIED attack on July 24.