Saturday,26 May, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1353, (20 - 26 July 2017)
Saturday,26 May, 2018
Issue 1353, (20 - 26 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Random terrorist attacks

Terrorist operations have grown in number in the face of pre-emptive security strikes, writes Ahmed Eleiba


# The aftermath of the Badrashin attack; Governor of the Red Sea Ahmed Abdallah visiting an injured tourist in Hurghada on Friday (photos: AFP) # The aftermath of the Badrashin attack; Governor of the Red Sea Ahmed Abdallah visiting an injured tourist in Hurghada on Friday (photos: AFP)
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Security forces have been targeted by a number of terrorist operations in recent months. The latest, in Badrashin, left five policemen dead. A day after the attack the Ministry of Interior announced two suspected perpetrators had been detained and are believed to be members of Hasm, a terrorist cell affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Badrashin attack, the sixth of its type since 2014, followed a different pattern than attacks on security forces in Sinai. Terrorist groups operating in the peninsula — particularly Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, local franchise of Islamic State — are better organised and funded.

There is “traditional terrorism”, says Ahmed Kamel Al-Beheiri, a researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies’ Security Studies Unit, “present in Egypt both before and after the 25 January Revolution and represented by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. And there is a new pattern of random terrorism, adopted by groups such as Hasm, Loaa Al-Thawra and Al-Eqab Al-Thawry, bent on political revenge.”

The latter, Al-Beheiri says, “are affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood and began by launching operations targeting infrastructure, destroying electricity and communications towers. They then moved on to targeting security personnel.”

“Random terrorism appeared in Egypt after the 30 June Revolution, as organised terrorist operations continued. The difference between them is the size of the organisations responsible, the weapons they use and the targets chosen. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has acquired sophisticated arms such as explosive devices and anti-tank weapons which are not available to Hasm.”

“There are doctrinal differences too. The smaller organisations prioritise immediate political goals over ideology unlike larger groups which use religious references to justify their actions. Another difference is that the larger terrorist groups are cross-border organisations and the smaller ones not.”

Al-Beheiri warns, however, that “small groups have recently begun to adopt a religious discourse similar to that of larger organisations and this could translate into closer cooperation between them”.

The Interior Ministry has begun to focus more closely on random terrorist groups, launching pre-emptive strikes against them in Ismailia, Dahshour and 6 October City.

Last week, in a sign that the terrorists’ tactics are converging, a police officer and four soldiers were killed in an attack targeting two tanks in Arish, North Sinai.

Brigadier General Khaled Okasha, head of the National Centre for Security Studies, told Al-Ahram Weekly that “a common factor between random and organised terrorist operations in the last few weeks is the increase in the number of operations in Sinai and elsewhere. This comes after a period in which attacks appeared to be decreasing following security clampdowns on terrorist camps and moving targets such as the 15 terrorist vehicles destroyed on Egypt’s western borders.”

“What has happened,” says Okasha, “is that those behind these groups have ordered more attacks. The cells appear to be prepared and armed to execute operations on demand. The aim appears to be to stretch the security forces on multiple fronts, in the east, west and centre of the country.”

“The increase in terrorist attacks is occurring as Qatar has moved to a point of no-return in its regional policy and is facing mounting pressure over its funding of terrorists and as pre-emptive strikes on the part of security forces, some of which do not make the news, are being intensified,” says military expert Major General Mohamed Qashqoush.

“Pre-emptive security strikes have targeted terrorist elements in Rafah and Sheikh Zweid and organisations with links in Libya, and security operations in the Western Desert have been intensified. All of which suggests the recent spate of terrorist attacks are motivated by revenge.”

Okasha expects a spike in random attacks and more organised attacks in Sinai in response to Cairo’s persistence in combating terrorism and facing down its state sponsors. It is an analysis with which all sources contacted by the Weekly agree.

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