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.
Weekly Summary of Islamic State Attacks in Iraq, and a Failed Suicide Bombing in Misr
Summary of Islamic State Attacks in Iraq: 01–09 August 2018
Islamic State released a video for the period of 01 August through 07 August covering the attacks below using their own graphs. The first 10 days of claimed attacks by the Islamic State overwhelmingly remained within the ‘Colonization Zone’, inhabited by rural Sunnis, namely Salahuddin, Kirkuk, and Diyala (refer to Michael Knights article “Predicting the Shape of Iraq’s Next Sunni Insurgencies” published in August 2017 in the Combating Terrorism Center weekly journal). Attacks in Baghdad remain high, showing persistent intent by the Islamic State to create further sectarian divides between the Sunnis and Shia.
Knights explains several key driving forces for a renewed support for violent Sunni insurgency, including increased support for the Islamic State, which gained initial Sunni support that enabled them previous control over a large part of Iraq. Knights all refers to demographic realities, which impact how Sunnis experience security, such as dominance, participation in local governance, ethno-sectarian balances, grievances, and local leadership. Thus, Knights coins the concept ‘Colonization Zone’, that includes Salahuddin, Kirkuk, and Diyala, where Sunnis fear Shia dominance via the Iraqi Security Forces coupled with the fear of ‘Kurdish colonization’ in areas such as Zummar, Kirkuk, and northern Diyala.
Knights’ analysis holds ground in assessing Islamic State claims to credit for the period of 01 to 09 August 2018. Though support for a violent Sunni insurgency culminating in renewed support for the Islamic State is less likely, fear and insecurity might give way for an evolutionary return of Sunni support for militant uprisings, a factor that the Islamic State is relying on to strengthen its current position. The Islamic State has shown that where security forces are weak or ineffective and where community divides exist, the group finds means to expand its presence.
The statistics are reliant on claims to credit by the Islamic State and therefore do not reflect all incidents during the reported period. A contradiction is noteworthy in an info graph distributed on 10 August 2018, showing “operations from 02 – 09 August 2018”:
Comparison with June/July 2018
Musings on Iraq blog statistics for June/July 2018 shows 214 incidents reported in Iraq for July 2018, a decline from 239 in June. A decline in attacks from June to July is noted by the author: Diyala (51 to 46), Kirkuk (56 to 37), and especially Salahaddin (42 to 23). Incidents continued to decline in Anbar and Babil as well. (For a more detailed analysis of incidents refer to Violence Slightly Down in Iraq July 2018).
Suicide Bomber Prematurely Detonated in Musturad, Cairo, Egypt (11 August 2018)
On 11 August 2018, a suicide bomber prematurely detonated himself in Musturad, Cairo, after being stopped by security forces who prevented him from accessing a nearby church. The suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest on the Musturad bridge, 200 meters away from the church. Based on the images of the aftermath, it appears that the bomb was incorrectly constructed as the impact of the explosion was too small for typical suicide vests.
Though no group has claimed credit, the tactics are similar to that of Islamic State’s Misr group, known for targeting Coptic churches throughout Egypt, and issuing fatwas permitting the indiscriminate killing of Coptic women and children. For instance, articles in Rumiyah (IS’ magazine publication, particularly issue 9) focus on continued IS persecutions of Coptic Christians, including a lengthy article from the Emir of the Islamic State Sinai calling for the killing, enslavement, and imprisonment of Coptic Christians in Egypt. With three high profile attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt already this year, the Emir has also called for attacks in the al Naba weekly newsletter.
Consider registering for a TRAC membership to receive full access to all original content.
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.