2016 Ramadan attacks

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File:2016 Medina bombing.jpg
A bomb attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina killed four people. The attack was part of a spate of ISIL bombings.

In 2016, several terrorist attacks occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (June 6 to July 5 in 2016; year 1437 in the Islamic calendar).[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Ramadan 2016 has been "the bloodiest on record since the Islamic State declared its caliphate in June 2014,"[8] or, with less specificity, "the bloodiest" in recent memory, or in modern history.[9][10][11][12] The attacks culminated in a bombing of the car park of The Prophet's Mosque, the second-holiest site in Islam.[13]

A number of security analysts predicted that millitant attacks by Islamist groups would increase during the month of Ramadan, largely due to propaganda promoting violence during the month. Analysts interpreted the attacks made by Wahhabist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are an attempt to divert attention from territorial losses and battlefield defeats in Syria and Iraq.[14][15]

Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has a history of increasing sectarian violence in Iraq during Ramadan, including the 2003 Ramadan Offensive, and the 2006 Ramadan Offensive.[16] ISIL, which declared itself as a state in June 2014, orchestrated attacks in June 2015. Security analysts predicted that ISIL would carry out further attacks during Ramadan in 2016 to consolidate power in their territory.[17] ISIL propaganda in the lead-up to Ramadan described promoted a "month of conquest and jihad" for their fighters,[18][19] calling on them to create "a month of pain for infidels everywhere."[2][10][20][21][22] Another online Islamist "distributed a manual for using poisons", adding, "Don't forget Ramadan is close, the month of victories."[2]


An article in 7 June 2015 by the Institute for the Study of War argued that Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had a history of elevating sectarian violence during Ramadan.[16][23] The article argued that the movement of religious pilgrims during Ramadan makes it easier for groups like ISIL to infiltrate Shiite areas, and carry out bombings of packed Shiite shrines. ISIL killed 142 people in the 2015 Sana'a mosque bombings in Yemen on the first day of Ramadan in 2015,[24] and the 2015 Ramadan attacks, which coincided with the anniversary of ISIL declaring statehood, including the 2015 Kuwait mosque bombing.

A report issued by the Institute for the Study of War before the start of Ramadan 2016 warned that ISIL was seeking to commit attacks during the Muslim holy month.[17][25] US intelligence officials say that ISIL has lost around 47% of its territory, but is still able to use terrorism on foreign soil as a recruitment and propaganda tactic.[3]

A Stratfor report highlights two Islamist uses the high regard in which Muslims hold Ramadan. The first is as a fund-raising opportunity by means both of direct donations and by the use of purported charities that funnel funds to violent militants. The second is by exploiting pious fervor to encourage recruits to carry our martyrdom operations.[26]

According to Rukmini Callimachi, "ISIS, like all jihadi groups, considers Ramadan to be a sacred time for doing jihad."[27]

According to Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, "Al-Qaida, its various affiliates and now ISIS use Ramadan as a... marker to inspire and motivate their followers and supporters worldwide."[2][28] Shiraz Maher of King's College London describes the Islamist perception of Ramadan as an, "opportune moment to double down on their millenarian war against civilisation and therefore launch more attacks than normal."[29]

According to Maajid Nawaz, jihadis, beginning with Hamas, have developed a teaching that Ramadan is an ordained "month of Jihad," basing this claim on their interpretation of the Battle of Badr, which occurred during Ramadan.[21] Shiraz Maher says that Abdullah Azzam popularized the concept that extremist violence is a form of religious worship.[30] News analyst Zev Chafets argues that attacking during Ramadan has become a tradition within contemporary Islamist militancy, but that Ramadan 2016 has been especially violent.[31] Juan Zarate told CBS News that the "coordinated attacks" on Saudi Arabia show the group has "developed an infrastructure" and is trying to "deepen its reach inside the kingdom".[32]

Adam Taylor, writing in The Washington Post, argued that "Ramadan is seen as time of action for the [Islamic State], which sees the month's religious importance as an added imperative for jihad, and its traditions as an opportunity to go on the offensive.[33]

Attacks by groups


"Most" of the attacks are "linked" to the Islamic State and regarded by observers as an effort to divert attention from defeats on the battlefield and territorial losses.[34] Notably, ISIL lost the strategically important city of Fallujah during June 2016. Political analysts say that the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wanted to completely capture Fallujah during the 2016 parliamentary break for Ramadan.[35]

The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence says it foiled a plan by an ISIL cell to conduct multiple bombings in the country during Ramadan.[36][37][38] Indonesian police say they foiled a plot to bomb civilians during Ramadan.[39]


Template:Main article On 2 July 2016, a refrigerator van packed with explosives exploded in a busy shopping center in Karrada, a majority Shia district within Iraq's capital Baghdad.[40] Another bomb exploded in the suburb of Baghdad; 292 people were killed,[41] and 225 people were injured, the city's deadliest attack in a decade.[5][42] The market was packed with shoppers buying goods for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr festival.[43]


Template:Main article ISIL claimed a June 21 suicide car bomb attack on a Jordanian army post near Rukban, a remote area on the borders with Syria.[6] Seven soldiers died and 14 were injured.[44][45]


Authorities in Kuwait claimed to have foiled a series of planned by seven members of an ISIL cell.[46][47][48]


Template:Main article In the city of Al Mukalla, the site of battles in 2015, four suicide car bombs killed 42 people.[49] Gun-battles broke out throughout the city.[50][51]


The city of al-Qaa was targeted by suicide bombers that killed five people.[52]

Saudi Arabia

Template:Main article

A series of suicide bombings occurred at the parking lot of The Prophet's Mosque, Islam's second holiest site. Four civilians were killed and five others were injured.[10][13]


Template:Main article On 1 July 2016, seven gunmen entered Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, a diplomatic zone with high security in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They opened fire at customers and began taking hostages. The hostage crisis continued until 2 July, when Bangladesh army ended the siege and killed six gunmen; the seventh was arrested. 20 hostages were killed in the attack; all of them except two were foreigners. The attack occurred in the last 10 days of Ramadan, the holiest days in Ramadan. The home minister of Bangladesh, Asaduzzaman Khan, says that Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were responsible, though ISIL has asserted responsibility.[3][53]

The religious scholar Maulana Fariduddin Masoud, the head of Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama, had organized a statement (a fatwa) signed by 100,000 Islamic scholars that condemned "terrorism and militancy" on June 21,[54] and condemned the Dhaka attack on 2 July.[55] When Masoud attended prayers for Eid al-Fitr on July 7, gunmen attacked police officers at a checkpoint protecting the gathering.[56] Four people were killed including two police officers, and several others were injured. The attackers are believed to be part of the same group that carried out the café massacre.[57][58]

Israel and the Palestinian territories

In an article entitled "Ramadan – The Month of Jihad, Fighting and Victory over the Enemies," published on 7 June 2015, the Islamist militant organization Hamas called for "jihad for the sake of Allah," and described Ramadan as the month of "actualization of exceptional Islamic victories."[59]

Template:Main article On 8 June 2016, the second day of Ramadan, two Palestinian men indiscriminately shot patrons at a cafe in Tel Aviv, Israel. Four people were killed and seven others were injured. Hamas praised the attack, and vowed for more attacks during the holy month of Ramadan in statement that lauded the killings as, "the first signs of the holy month and first surprises that await the Zionists enemy during Ramadan."[2][21][60][61][62][63][64] In other attacks noted in press reports as marking a sudden uptick in violence during Ramadan, Mohammed Nasser Tarayra (19) stabbed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba, and a Palestinian from the occupied territories stabbed 2 people in Netanya.[60][65][66]


The Somali millitant group Al-Shabab said they were going to kill people in Somalia.[67] The June 2016 Mogadishu attacks killed 14 civilians in Mogadishu, Somalia.[68] Al-Shabab had threatened attacks in Kenya, due to the Kenyan support for the African Union Mission to Somalia.[69]

Unclear inspiration


Template:Main article On 28 June 2016, three gunmen with suicide belts killed 45 people and injured 238 others.[64] The attack occurred in the last 10 days of Ramadan, the holiest days in Ramadan. Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, said they had evidence that ISIL carried out the attack.[70][71] Some intelligence services said the attack was planned by Akhmed Chatayev, a Chechen extremist loyal to ISIL.[72][73]


A suicide bomber wounded one police officer in a bomb attack on a police station in Surakarta in Central Java.[51][74][75][76][77] Police in Indonesia say the attacker learnt to build bombs from ISIL manuals.[78] A police source told the Straits Times that the bomber had contact with Bahrun Naim, the suspected mastermind of the 2016 Jakarta attacks. A BNPT source told the Jakarta Post that the bomber was a suspected member of an ISIL cell.[79]


In Malaysia, a grenade attack on a Puchong night club left eight people injured. The security forces went on to investigate ISIL links among police officers who have ties to Malaysians fighting for ISIL in Syria.[80][81][82][83][84][85][86]

ISIL claimed attacks

The following attacks have been claimed by ISIL media,[87][88] though security services in the U.S. and France have not established direct links to millitant groups.

United States

Template:Main article On 12 June 2016 Omar Mateen killed 49 people during a shootout at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The ISIL propaganda radio station Al-Bayan asserted that Mateen was an ISIL "soldier" without indicating any foreknowledge of the shooting.[88] Commentators have argued that Mateen, who declared his support for ISIL, may have been motivated by online material promoting attacks during Ramadan.[2][10][20][21][31][87][89] Shiraz Maher of King's College London describes Mateen as a "lone wolf" who was "likely roused" by al-Adnani's "clarion call" to attack non-believer's during Ramadan.[29]


Template:Main article On 13 June 2016, the seventh day of Ramadan, Larossi Abballa stabbed a police officer and his wife to death in Magnanville, near the city of Paris. He later took their three-year-old son hostage. French police stormed the house, killed Aballa, and rescued the child. François Hollande called the attack a "terrorist act". ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack,[87] and commentators argued that it could have been catalysed by ISIL propaganda calling for attacks in Western countries.[89]

See also



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