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MIxTRAC: A Series of Islamic State Attacks

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The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.

A Series of Islamic State Attacks

Islamic State Attacks (Two Knife; One Vehicle; One Suicide) on Chechen Police Forces in Chechen Republic, Russia (20 August 2018)

On 22 August 2018, Islamic State claimed multiple separate attacks against police forces in Shali and Grozny resulting in at least one officer dead; three other officers and a female civilian were injured. Four attackers out of the five total were killed.

Around 10 a.m. (local time), two men stabbed two police officers inside a police station in Shali. The two officers and a civilian were wounded. One assailant was killed, and another attacker was detained. The last was transported to a local medical facility. He died on 21 August 2018.

Few moments after the first attack, a man wearing an explosive belt blew himself up next to a group of traffic police officers in Mesker Yurt—the Shalinsky district. No casualties were reported by police.

Around 10:30 a.m., armed shooters opened fire on police in northern Grozny. One officer was killed and some were wounded. Two of the militants were shot dead by police.

Around 11:20 a.m., a man drove a car into police officers, though this vehicle attack was not actually claimed (but is a part of the sequence of events). The police considered the event as not related to the previous attacks. However, the on-going investigation does not disregard possible connections with the other attacks.

THE ATTACKERS

According to local media, as well as Islamic State supporters on Telegram, all perpetrators were underage; the youngest being only 11 years old. The perpetrators of the first attack were related, natives of Shali. One of their family members is currently imprisoned on terrorism charges. The fourth attacker was identified as Elah Atmatkhamov, born in 2001, and was a resident of Chechnya. Police consider him as the mastermind behind the attacks. His 11-year-old brother was with him in the car and both were killed. Police are investigating Atmatkhamov’s other two brothers (Rustam, 1973 and Khizir, 1987) in the connection with the incidents.

On 21 August 2018, the day after the attack, Amaq News Agency released a video of the children pledging allegiance to Baghdadi with a cell phone image of the IS flag in the background.  The video confirms how young the attackers were.

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Claims:

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“Soldiers of the Islamic State carried out a series of attacks on officers and employees of the Chechen police in Grozny, Shali, and Mesker-Yurt.”

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Islamic State Claimed Knife Attack in Trappes, Southwest of Paris, France (23 August 2018)

On 23 August 2018, an assailant killed two people and injured another woman in a knife attack in Trappes, France. He was shot and killed by French police. According to France information, the deceased are the sister and mother of the perpetrator and are not ruling out the possibility of a family feud. Initial reports stated that the attacker was known to French authorities and was listed on the S List (the government database of suspected religious and political extremists).

‘Le Parisien’ identified the attacker as Kamel S. Born in either 1982 or 1986, he was employed as a bus driver. According to TRAC sources, the attacker’s full name is likely Kamel Salhi.

If it does pan out that the attacker was related to his targets, this would not be the first case where the attacker chose his family members in the name of Islamic State. In March 2016, six cousins plotted and executed a plan to kidnap and kill another cousin working in the KSA counterterrorism office.

One day prior, on 22 August 2018, al Furqan Foundation—the official Islamic State media outlet—released an audio message from IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi entitled “Give Glad Tidings to the Patient.” In the statement Baghdadi specifically referred to stabbings, bombings and vehicular assaults as preferred methods for spreading terror and praised recent attacks in the EU, Canada, and Jordan. He emphasized the importance of such attacks as equal to “thousands of attacks” executed by the Islamic State in areas they once controlled. He also conveyed a message that victory is neither in the territory nor in sophisticated weapons but in the willingness of sustained fighting.

Despite frequent media claims, however, the Islamic State does have a track record of opportunistic claims and failing to produce evidence of allegiance. Most notably, the 2017 Las Vegas attack claim was made without ever producing evidence of an association between the attacker and the group.

Claims:

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Islamic State in Sinai (ISS) Inghimasi Attack (with RPGs) on Kilo 17 Checkpoint West of al Arish, Sinai, Egypt (25 August 2018)

Early in the morning of 25 August 2018, an unknown number of armed gunmen (referred to as inghimasi) targeted a new security checkpoint named Kilo 17 located west of al Arish, Sinai. The attack began with launching RPGs from 4×4 vehicles stationed on Arish-Qantara International Road, hitting surveillance towers in front of the checkpoint. Even under heavy gunfire, the ISS fighters stormed the checkpoint wearing explosive vests (see images below of IEDs). Initial reports refer to four Central Security Force personnel killed, nine wounded, and four ISS ttackers killed. Media reports that several Egyptian army personnel are in critical condition in the hospital. Among the items found on the attackers were:

  • Suicide Belt
  • 4 different AK variants
  • RPG 7
  • Personal radio and other equipment

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Other than Rafah, Al Arish is one of Islamic State in Sinai’s primary areas of operations. Though ISS does not actually have territorial control over either area, it regularly claims credit for attacks. ISS relies on armed attacks and IEDs to maintain consistent presence. Stringent measures implemented as part of Operation Sinai 2018 have been eased since July 2018 due to the harsh restrictions on movement of goods and locals. ISS regularly highlights perceived governmental abuses in its propaganda as well as chatter on Telegram.

The Islamic State released photos of the attack:

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Claim:

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The above has been compiled by Ryan J. Anderson, an MA student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, specializing in Intelligence and International Affairs. He is a Junior Research Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS), a research analyst at the International Counter-Terrorism Youth Network (ICTYN), and was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), Queen’s University. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanandrson

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