What to look for when looking at today's terror attacks

June 26th, 2015 - This is going to be a brief blog post. Because we know way too little for any kind of sustainable analysis yet. But there are few points that can be made and which can help in directing and informing our understanding of what happened today.

1.- The attack in Kuwait was an IS attack - and it may be connected to the attack in Tunisia. 

The claim of responsibility published a few hours ago fits the bill. I believe it to be authentic and I consider the attack on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City an IS attack for the time being.

As for the attack in Tunisia's tourist paradise in Sousse: In this case IS sympathizers, or people who would call themselves actual members of the IS, are the most likely perpetrators. The IS has called for attacks in Tunisia on several occasion, destabilizing the only country that actually made a democratic turn after the events of 2011 is a prime target for the group. There are several thousands of Tunisians who are fighting on behalf of the IS in Syria and Iraq; they have ab extensive networks of supporters and sympathizers in the country; and the IS has struck there before - in March, in the capital Tunis.

It is not unlikely that the Kuwait attack and the Sousse attack have been co-ordinated, at least roughly. We saw a similar thing in March, when a mosque in Sanaa in Yemen and a museum in Tunis were struck within 48 hours - and, intriguingly, the respective IS claims of responsibility bore a very high degree of similarity. In the case of the Sousse attack, we don't have a claim of responsibility yet. So let's wait and see.

2.- The attack in France resembles other plots and attacks by self-recurites sympathizers

It seems to have been rather amateurish (the perpetrator did not manage to instigate the massive explosion he probably had in mind); it seems to have been executed by a single person; it seems to have had a personal dimension untypical of attacks planned by networks in that the murdered and decapitated victim appears to have been the alleged perpetrator's boss.

As Thomas Hegghammer and others have pointed out, most attacks and plots executed and hatched in the West in the past few years go back originated with self-recuited sympathizers. Right now, this seems to be the most likely scenario. It would also mean that there is likely no connection to the attacks in Sousse and Kuwait.

3.- The attacks in Kobane are separate from these other attacks 

I don't know this for a fact, it is just an assumption. But I am rather sure that even if the IS leadership in Syria/Iraq did have prior knowledge of the fact that something was planned in Tunisis and Kuwait, they would not have chosen to stage an offensive in Kobane just to amplify that signal. My reading is that the IS in the theatre can't really afford to coordinate his attacks inside the theatre with what people may be planning in the larger region. Other criteria for plotting apply, synchronization is not relay of importance.

4.- Please bear in mind the following 

It is still very early. Findings may soon change the hypothesis I have laid out here. If that happens, I will re-calibrate accordingly. 

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