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Joshua Kurlantzick (Bloomberg) — In the wake of last week's attacks in Jakarta, which killed seven people, fears are growing that the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world is going to be hit by a wave of Islamic State-linked bombings and shootings.
The potential for mayhem seems obvious. Indonesia’s open society and high social media penetration make it easy for young Indonesians to access Islamist sites and Facebook pages, and the Sunni Muslim insurgency has released several videos in Indonesian in an apparent recruiting effort.
Indonesia is a country of thousands of islands, with porous borders and many soft targets: The militants launched bombs and opened fire in broad daylight in one of the busiest neighborhoods in Jakarta.
Robin Simcox (Foreign Affairs) — The recent attacks in Brussels show that terrorists’ ability to strike at the heart of Europe remains apparently undiminished. Early reports suggest a death toll of around 31, with more than 100 injured. The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Belgium may seem an unlikely hub of jihadism, but despite being a small and peaceful nation, Belgian connections to militancy are long established.
In the 1990s, bullets and guns made their way from local jihadi crooks in Brussels to the Groupe Islamique Armé, Algerian terrorists aiming to establish an Islamic state in Algeria. Throughout that decade, a smattering of Belgian residents headed off to fight in various foreign conflicts, including the one in Chechnya.
Stratfor — For the Islamist government in Tripoli, the arrival of a new unity government in the Libyan capital spells the beginning of the end of its hold on power. The General National Congress, or GNC, has controlled Tripoli since the violent Libya Dawn uprising in 2014.
Now a newly formed unity government is ready to take over the country, and the GNC is more or less powerless to oppose it. After months of organizing in Tunis, the unity Government of National Accord (GNA) entered Libya's capital March 30.
Less than 48 hours later, the prime minister of the GNC, Khalifa Ghwell, finally rescinded his threats to violently force the new government out and fled to his hometown, the coastal city of Misrata.
Stratfor — A string of unusual attacks by al Qaeda's North African branch could shed some light on the jihadist group's latest predicament. Pressure is mounting on al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to counter the Islamic State's growing encroachment on its territory, resources and pool of recruits.
The rise of an effective rival for the helm of global jihadism has forced al Qaeda to step up its game, especially in areas where it has been weakened. Northern Africa — and particularly Mali, where France's military intervention has significantly degraded AQIM's capabilities over the past few years — is one such place.
The reversal of AQIM's fortunes by both the Islamic State and France may be the motive behind the group's latest spate of attacks against soft targets in African cities.
Scott Stewart (Stratfor) — Bombs used in the March 22 attacks in Brussels displayed a degree of tradecraft not before shown by the Islamic State outside its core areas of operation.
The bombings at the Zaventem airport and at a metro station in Brussels killed 35 and wounded more than 300, making them the deadliest jihadist bombing attack in the West in more than a decade.
The Brussels attacks broke the recent trend of moving toward armed assaults from bombings. The Brussels cell was able to conduct such a large bombing operation because one of its key members, identified by Belgian authorities as Najim Laachraoui, possessed advanced bombmaking tradecraft acquired from Islamic State trainers while he was in Syria. Laachraoui is also thought to have constructed the bombs used in the November 2015 Paris attacks.