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2018 04-03 CTP Update and Assessment


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CTP's Threat Update series is a weekly update and assessment of Iran and the al Qaeda network and its affiliates in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and the Maghreb and Sahel.

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2018 04-03 CTP Update and Assessment

  1. 1. 1 Threat Update: April 3, 2018 Ongoing protests in southwestern Khuzestan province over the regime’s discrimination and marginalization of Iran’s Arab communities may pose a threat to regime security if they continue to spread. Demonstrations began in Ahvaz on March 29 and later spread to surrounding towns and cities. Social media reporting indicates hundreds participated in the protests. Security forces deployed to disperse protesters quickly. Iran Al Shabaab used advanced tactical capabilities to exploit the security vacuum created by a political standoff in the Somali parliament. Al Shabaab conducted five coordinated operations, including complex explosive attacks, outside of Mogadishu. The political crisis has drawn security forces into Mogadishu and will likely stall counter-al Shabaab operations outside of the capital, further limiting the federal government’s reach into southern and central Somalia. Somalia Al Qaeda leader Hamza Bin Laden introduced a new argument for the overthrow of the Saudi ruling family. Hamza argued that the Saudi regime’s inability to defend Islam’s holiest sites disqualifies it from ruling the peninsula. He also provided examples accusing the House of al Saud of neglecting Islam. Hamza has increased his media presence since 2017 as he attempts to unite the Salafi-jihadi movement under al Qaeda and retake his father's mantle. Al Qaeda Network
  2. 2. 2 Threat Update: April 3, 2018 The al Houthi movement is engaging with UN representatives after demonstrating its ballistic missile capabilities and state-building capacity. Al Houthi leadership restarted meetings with the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen after refusing to negotiate with the former envoy. The al Houthi movement announced efforts to establish state institutions to bolster its legitimacy. The al Houthi movement will continue ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia to strengthen its negotiating position. Yemen Salafi-jihadi groups are undermining security in central and northern Mali as political stakeholders seek to make deals in the lead-up to presidential elections. Likely al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a hotel popular with foreign aid workers and continued a campaign of attacks on security targets. ISIS-linked militants resumed offensive operations in the Malian-Nigerien border region, signaling the retention of capabilities despite recent counterterrorism efforts in the area. Sahel Libya An ISIS attack campaign may disrupt oil exports from northeastern Libya. ISIS Wilayat Barqah conducted three attacks targeting Libyan National Army (LNA) checkpoints near key oil infrastructure in the past six months. ISIS seeks to disrupt Libya’s economic recovery and prevent the formation of a functioning state.
  3. 3. Al Qaeda Network 3Matthew Cassidy Hamza bin Laden presents new argument to overthrow the Saudi regime 13 AUG 2015: Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri introduced Hamza bin Laden for the first time. 16 AUG 2016: Hamza began a series calling on the people of the Arabian Peninsula to rise up against the House of al Saud. 2 31 MAR 2018: Hamza presented a new argument for overthrowing the House of al Saud. He accused Saudi leaders of betraying Islam and failing to defend Islam’s holiest sites. 3 1 1 3 5 2 2015 2016 2017 2018 Hamza releasing more statements per year present
  4. 4. Horn of Africa 4Peter Cialone Al Shabaab exploits security vacuum amid Somali political crisis 1. 25-26 MAR: Al Shabaab IED attacks targeted Somali security forces in Mogadishu. 2. 28 MAR: An al Shabaab car bomb killed an aid worker in Mogadishu. 3. 01 APR: An al Shabaab double- SVBIED targeted an AMISOM base in Bulo Marer, Lower Shabelle. 4. 01 APR: An al Shabaab SVBIED targeted an AMISOM military outpost in Golweyn. 5. 01 APR: Al Shabaab militants attacked SNA and AMISOM forces in Qoryoley and Mashallay. 6. 01 APR: Al Shabaab militants fired mortars targeting AMISOM and SNA forces in Barawe. 3 5 4 2 1 Mogadishu 6 Qoryoley Mashallay Bulo Marer Golweyn Barawe 14-16 MAR: Somali security forces deployed to the parliament building in response to a standoff between Lower House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
  5. 5. Sahel 5Bryan Gilday Al Qaeda and ISIS threaten stability in central and northern Mali 1. 22 MAR: JNIM militants shelled the MINUSMA base in Kidal, Mali during the Malian prime minister’s visit to the region. 2. 22 MAR: Representatives of the Malian government and Tuareg factions signed an agreement to implement in the 2015 Algiers Accords in Bamako, Mali. 3. 28 MAR: Suspected JNIM militants attacked the Hotel la Falaise near Bandiagara, Mali. 4. 29 MAR: Suspected ISGS militants ambushed a GATIA patrol near Indelimane, Mali. 5. 01 APR: ISGS militants clashed with the GATIA-MSA coalition and French forces near Akabar, Mali and Banibangou, Niger. Niger Burkina Faso Kidal Banibangou Indelimane Akabar 1 2 3 4 Bamako 5 Bandiagara Mali
  6. 6. Libya 6 ISIS Wilayat Barqah seeks to weaken LNA control in Ajdabiya city Theresa Fellner Salama Checkpoint Checkpoint 60 09 MAR 2018: SVBIED attack 2 30 MAR 2018: SVBIED attack 25 OCT 2017: Raid 1 3 Ajdabiya Refinery & Port Port
  7. 7. Yemen 7 28 MAR: The new UN envoy met with al Houthi movement leader Abdel Malik al Houthi in Sana’a to discuss peace talks. Al Houthi called for the end of the partial blockade and air campaign. Tomás Padgett Perez Al Houthi movement attempts to strengthen negotiating position 26 MAR: Al Houthi Supreme Political Council President Saleh al Samad announced a state-building project aimed at creating state institutions governed by national law in al Houthi-controlled territory. 25 MAR: The al Houthi movement launched seven ballistic missiles targeting four Saudi cities on the third anniversary of the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen. 1 2 3 present
  8. 8. Acronym List AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia AQAP: al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQIM: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIS: al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent BDB: Benghazi Defense Brigades BRSC: Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council CJA: Congress for Justice in Azawad CMA: Coordination for the Movement of the Azawad GATIA: Imghad Tuareg and Allies Self-Defense Group ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham JNIM: Jama’a Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen GNA: Libyan Government of National Accord LNA: Libyan National Army MAA: Arab Movement of Azawad MINUSMA: United National Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali MNLA: National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad MSCD: Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna MUJAO: Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa SNA: Somalia National Army TTP: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan 8
  9. 9. For more information about AEI’s Critical Threats Project, visit Contact us at or (202) 888-6575. Frederick W. Kagan Director Critical Threats Project Team Katherine Zimmerman Research Manager Caroline Goodson Program Manager 9 al Qaeda Analysts Emily Estelle Maher Farrukh Iran Analysts Marie Donovan Mike Saidi Digital Content Associate Katie Donnelly