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Hydra report – October 2023

This month’s In Focus analyzes the potential Global Jihad impact of Hamas’ wide-scale attack against Israeli towns and kibbutzim adjacent to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023, and the subsequent declaration of war by Israel against the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. These events received wide attention from the major Global Jihad groups, namely, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Amid the familiar calls to support the Palestinians, demonizing Israel, the Jews and their allies, Hamas’ literal mention was resoundingly absent, with both groups focusing on inciting Muslims to attack targets in the West. Both groups portrayed the solution of the Palestinian problem through the prism of Global Jihad. A more actively involved initiative from AQ was discernible in the form of a cyber-attack by an affiliated group that focused on France.

On October 16, 2023, a lone wolf attacker shot dead two Swedish nationals in the heart of Brussels, ahead of a football match between Belgium and Sweden. IS officially claimed the attack – the first in seven years in Belgium. The background of the assailant – an illegal immigrant from Tunisia – matches a generic profile of self-radicalized individuals who carried out attacks in the past. IS propaganda linked the attack to the war in the Gaza Strip, although the link to Sweden seems stronger against the backdrop of repeated Quran desecration incidents in the Scandinavian country in recent months.

In addition to the Global Jihad threat represented by IS and AQ, there is a mounting significant potential threat from the general increase in pro-Palestinian sentiment on social media, as well as among protestors in the West and elsewhere. The war situation in Gaza is being exploited by violent radicals and militant jihadi adherents, thus increasing the possibility of physical attacks, especially against Jewish targets, but not necessarily limited to them. There were examples immediately after the outbreak of the war that demonstrate this threat. These include violent attacks and intentions to carry out mass casualty attacks.

This month’s Who’s Who? analyzes a Facebook profile belonging to a Tunisian man who lives in Italy and supports the Islamic State. His profile was detected for investigation following his sympathetic reactions to posts pertaining to the IS terrorist who carried out the recent attack in Brussels.

In our Instant Messaging Applications Monitoring, using the Codex IMATM system, we investigated two phone numbers – one with a Lebanese prefix and the other with an Algerian prefix. Using the Codex IMATM system, the numbers were found to be participants of radical Palestinian WhatsApp groups affiliated with different terrorist organizations, with an emphasis on Hamas.

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