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Hydra Report

Hydra Report

As the eyes of the entire world are turned to the war in Ukraine, jihadi groups are also reacting to the situation from their relevant perspectives. The Afghan Taliban mainly focused on expressing its concern about Afghan citizens and students in Ukraine. In Syria, religious leaders associated with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham took a clearly anti-Russia stance, resulting from the Russian military intervention in Syria on the side of the Syrian regime, and against HTS. The Islamic State, unsurprisingly views both sides in the conflict as Crusaders and infidels, and the current phase as the beginning of an era of wars between the Crusaders. And of course the Chechen issue is specifically of interest, as the Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, allied with Putin, has moblizied his forces to fight alongside the Russian Army, a move viewed as apostate by jihadi leaders in Syria and the Caucasus.

In an another corner of the world, where fighting never ceases for a moment, the Sahel region has experienced an uptick in jihadist activity in recent months. In light of the upcoming withdrawal of French forces deployed in Mali, two of the prominent jihadi groups in the arena – JNIM and ISGS – are operating against the armies of Mali and Nigeria, and against each other. While JNIM is preparing for the post-France era, IS continues its jihadi endeavors in its African provinces; both trends will accelerate as the French withdrawal draws closer.

From IS in Africa to IS in the Philippines, and one of its affiliates known as the Maute Group, who has not succeeded thus far in matching the battle for the city of Marawi in May 2017, which resulted in a five-month long takeover of the city. Nonetheless, the Maute Group has maintained an ongoing insurgency, currently under the leadership of Abu Zacharia, the emir of the Islamic State East Asia Province. A recent Philippine Army intelligence report revealed the Maute Group is reorganizing in Lanao del Sur, recruiting additional members and plotting attacks, and on March 1, 2022, the military carried out a two-day operation in Maguing.

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