Knife Attacks in Germany and Belgium, and Islamic State (Khorasan Province) Attack on Afghan Interior Ministry, Kabul
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.
Knife Attack at Flensburg Central Train Station in Flensburg, Germany (05/30/18)
On 30 May 2018, at around 7 p.m. local time (17:00 UTC) a lone knife man attacked a 22-year-old female police officer on a train traveling to Flensburg via Cologne and Hamburg. Germany’s federal police confirmed that a knife attack had taken place near Flensburg’s central train station near the border with Demark. There has been at least one fatality and two injuries; initial reports suggested that the one dead was the assailant, and the two injured were the police officers confronting the assailant. Motivations for the attack remain unclear however.
Islamic State Khorasan Province Attack (Armed Assault and Bombing/VBIED) on Afghan Interior Ministry, Kabul, Afghanistan (05/30/18)
On 30 May 2018, two explosions detonated at the gates of the Afghan Interior Ministry Compound in Kabul. Eyewitness accounts vary on how many explosions occurred but at least one car bomb detonated at the first checkpoint leading to the ministry. Six to ten armed gunmen immediately stormed the building, and heavy firefight ensued with security forces that lasted for several hours. At least one police officer was killed in the assault and five other officers were wounded. The Afghan Interior Ministry is still conducting a security sweep around the compound but report that all six attackers were killed in the clashes to storm the building. Other eyewitness reports say that three attackers donated suicide vests and seven more were gunned down by the NATO compound security forces.
On the same day, police found an explosive-filled car and guns at Kabul’s international airport, which is near to the Interior Ministry.
The Afghan Interior Ministry is heavily fortified with “blast walls” and 24-hour guards operated by NATO forces. However, both ISK and Taliban/IEA have proven that no matter what security measures are in place inside the nation’s capital—even when security forces are already on high alert for the fighting season of Ramadan—these protected areas are still very much vulnerable to these sorts of attacks.
From the images of the dead attackers (see images below), it appears like many other ISK attacks, the attackers were disguised in Afghan Army standard camouflage issued uniforms. The Islamic State describes such special forces assault teams as Inghimasiyun.
U.S. forces issued a statement that they did not believe ISK was responsible for the attack on the MoI. Rather, the attack structure and careful planning was more likely the work of the Haqqani Network. However, it is possible for both to be true. The last attack in Kabul was unique in that though simultaneous attacks took place in different parts of the city, ISK claimed credit for one attack, and IEA for the other. Since it seemed a bit too coincidental that both would decide to attack within twenty minutes of each other on accident, TRAC speculated that perhaps the IEA claim was really on behalf of the Haqqani’s and that it was the Haqqani’s who coordinated with ISK. The Haqqani Network is well known for its complex attacks inside Kabul, and equally as well known for letting/allowing the IEA to claim credit for their attacks.
It is worth noting that the old Ministry of Interior (MoI) was targeted on 27 January 2018 by the Taliban/IEA. In August 2016, ISK claimed the deaths of four MoI employees with a sticky bomb in Kabul.
Islamic State (Khorasan Province) later released images of the ten Kabul Inghimasi assault team. Interestingly, based on the fighter’s Kunyas, the team was a combination of both Afghan (at least one from Pashtun i.e., Waziristani) and Pakistani nationals. Additionally, Islamic State’s official media outlet, Nashir, issued a claim of credit (see below).
- Abu Abdullah Waziristani
- Abad Al Kunduzi
- Abu Muhammad Herati
- Umar al Faruq
- Sadi Al Parwani
- Abu Hasam Farsi
- Abdullah Farsi
- Umar Bilal
- Qar’i Al Uzbeki
- Sayeed Muslim
Islamic State Knife Attack Leads to Gun Attack in Liège, Belgium (05/29/18)
On 29 May 2018, a lone attacker stabbed two police officers, stealing both their weapons. The gunmen then open fired in the middle of the city centre of Liège, Belgium. According to eyewitnesses, the man shouted “Allah Akbar” at the time of the attack. After shooting two police officers and one civilian, the suspect entered the nearby Waha High School taking a female custodian hostage. A standoff with the police ensued. The children at the school were evacuated to either the Botanical Gardens or quartered to the 4th floor of the building; none were harmed. The standoff ultimately ended with the suspect neutralized. At least four people, including the gunmen, are dead; two other police officers were wounded in the incident. The entire event lasted an hour; at least twenty rounds were fired by the attacker before he was killed.
The suspect was identified as Benjamin Herman, a 36-year-old male who was out on 48-hour parole from Lantin Prison in Juprelle, after being released the day before the attack. Known for robberies and drug dealing, the suspect was considered very violent as well as psychologically unstable. Though he was not previously known for extremism, he likely was radicalized in prison—a notorious recruitment ground for both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has since claimed credit for the attack.
Source in Islamic State Security to Amaq: The executor of the attack yesterday, Tuesday in #Liege city, Eastern #Belgium was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.”
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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.