New jihadist chatter focuses on the vulnerability of United Nations personnel in Syria and Lebanon, as well as Westerners in Saudi Arabia. The online discussion is over whether opening a new jihad front against "Crusaders" in relatively peaceful Muslim countries is advisable at this time.
According to a report released Monday by the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), the communications discussed targeting options regarding the U.N. troops on peacekeeping missions in Syria and Lebanon. The jihadists pointed out that the U.N. personnel move about freely in Syria, in the region of the Golan Heights and the Lebanon-Israel border, and that they are easily identifiable by their uniforms and marked vehicles. The communications also discussed "Crusader" military personnel "spread throughout" Saudi Arabia, probably in reference to foreign contractors.
ITRR analysts noted that the "targeting communications," ostensibly asking for input as to which targets are best, are not new. This type of communication is sometimes used to elicit useful targeting details from responsive jihad supporters on the ground, as well as to gauge support for certain attacks.
In this case, ITRR said, the terrorists are in a position to act on any intelligence shared privately in the wake of a discussion and that they are battle-tested and have military-level armaments. Aside from the named U.N. forces, ITRR said that Lebanese government facilities, Western organizations and NGOs are likely to be targets of terror.
In late July, it was noted, Al-Qaeda of Al-Sham (an area known as "Greater Syria" and encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan) called for the unification of all jihadist groups in the region under the command of Osama Bin-Laden. The overarching goal, the Al-Qaeda affiliate organization said, would be to fight Israel and the United Nations.
ITRR concluded that increased terror activity aimed at Western interests can be expected inside Lebanon specifically, in "Greater Syria" more generally, as well as in Saud Arabia.