Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

‘The path of jihad’

Revenge is the dominant theme in recently released videos by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and Ajnad Misr, writes Khaled Dawoud

Al-Ahram Weekly

The 16-minute video of Imam Marei, 41, aka Abu Mariam, who claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the police headquarters in Mansoura on 24 December, opens with pictures of two Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis members, who died in more recent operations, flanking an image of Marei.

“The Battle of Revenge for Egypt’s Muslims” has appeared four months after the attack which killed16 people. The video moves on to show Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in the midst of the wreckage while a voiceover reads a verse from the Quran warning “infidels” not to think their castles and fortifications will protect them.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which claims affiliation with Al-Qaeda, surfaced following the removal of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. The group has claimed responsibility for attacks in which scores of policemen and army personnel have been killed and wounded, including the assassination attempt on the interior minister in September and suicide attacks against the main police headquarters in Southern Sinai in October, Mansoura in December and Cairo on 24 January. It is also thought to be behind dozens of attacks on pipelines in Sinai providing gas to local factories, Israel and Jordan, and the assassination of the senior National Security officer in charge of the violent political Islamic groups file.

On 17 April Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt), another group unheard of under Morsi, released a 23-minute video claiming responsibility for eight attacks between November 2013 and mid-April 2014. On 22 April the same group murdered senior anti-riot police officer Brigadier Ahmed Zaki by affixing a bomb to an unidentified pickup truck he was riding. Ajnad Misr said they had used sophisticated monitoring techniques that allowed them to target Zaki. “We could have assassinated him at his home but feared we might then kill innocent women and children,” said the group. It also claimed to be behind the three explosive devices in front of Cairo University which killed a senior officer and severely wounded five others, including a major- general, early in April.

While Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis is reliant on suicide car bomb attacks that kill at random, Ajnad Misr has employed smaller remote controlled explosive devices that target police and army officers. In their statements, Ajnad Misr, which claims to possess a detailed list of police officers “involved in the killing and arrest of protesters over the past ten months”, has underlined its concern not to harm civilians.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis videos tend to reveal the identities of those who carried out the suicide attacks months after it happened. The only video released by Ajnad Misr so far focused on the consequences of their terror bomb attacks, using footage from private and state television channels in which officers explain the damage caused.

In all the videos released recently terrifying “the enemy”, exacting revenge and providing relief for the families and relatives of  “brothers” killed in clashes with police and army, or those held in prison and allegedly tortured and humiliated, have emerged as common themes. Anasr Beit Al-Maqdis and Ajnad Misr both quote verses from the Quran underlining that not only does God call for revenge but exacting revenge is a religious duty. The Ajnad Misr video added its bomb attacks came in the framework of a campaign — “In revenge there is life” —and dedicated the attacks to mothers whose sons have been wounded, killed or arrested in confrontations.

In an attempt to justify the terror attack that inflicted heavy damage on the Mansoura police headquarters and nearby buildings, the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis video includes a section of pictures of police and army soldiers firing on Islamist protesters opposed to what they describe as the “military coup” against Morsi. Ajnad Misr opted for a longer view, using videos of police brutality dating to the era of Hosni Mubarak, including the 25 January Revolution and ending with current clashes. Tellingly, the video skipped any incidents of demonstrators killed by police during Morsi’s year in the presidential palace.

Both groups made heavy use of footage of the bloody dispersal of the sit-ins held by Morsi supporters in Rabaa and Nahda Squares. The sequences, says expert on Islamic group Sameh Eid, are “the most influential mobilisation and propaganda tools the extremist terrorist groups use to recruit new members”.

The Abu Mariam video also charges security forces with “destroying the homes of innocent civilians in Sinai”, “violating the privacy of homes and women”, “terrifying children” and attacking “free Muslim women”. A former leader of the group who was killed in an earlier confrontation with police, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, could be heard saying, “Our blood is cheap in defence of religion and our honour”.

A pre-bomb attack image of the Mansoura police building appeared beneath the words: “Its task is to protect the man-made law which clashes with the rule of God, arrest Muslim men and women, raid the houses of the innocent, and commit massacres against demonstrators.” This was followed by pictures of hands using duct tape and wires to prepare the barrels filled with explosives which Abu Mariam used in blowing up the Mansoura police building.

The video then offered a short CV of Abu-Mariam, praising his commitment to religion and desire to die “by providing him with a vehicle that would dig into the bodies of the enemies of God, relieving his heart and those of the believers”. It revealed that he was involved in several confrontations battling the “infidel regime in Egypt”, fought in Syria, and was hit with a bullet during a demonstration following Morsi’s removal in July.

Six minutes into the video Abu Mariam delivers his martyrdom speech against a backdrop of two machine guns. He appeared hesitant, clearly not an expert in citing Quranic verses or hadith. His key argument was that, as a Muslim, it is not enough to preach religion and wait for the day people voluntarily accept the establishment of an Islamic state, one must practice Jihad against infidels who will not allow such a state to exist in the first place. “Our path is that of Prophet Mohamed: a book that guides us and a sword that brings us victory,” he said. “It is impossible that our enemies will allow us to implement Sharia, fight the Jews or to liberate Al-Aqsa mosque without resorting to our weapons.”

“Advice does not work with the army and police who kill us. We don’t speak with those who kill us; instead we must kill them so that this becomes a lesson for anyone who dares to kill a Muslim.”

He cites the charges against the Egyptian army and police common among extremist Islamic groups, including their “refusal to implement God’s law while imposing secular Western laws” and accepting normalisation of relations with Israel while killing Islamists who want to engage in jihad to liberate Palestine. Some of Abu-Mariam’s charges harked to the past. He accused the Egyptian army of allowing foreign troops to invade Iraq, which was 11 years ago, and that they protected “dirty infidel Jews in Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh who lie naked on our sands”.

In the final minutes of the video Abu Mariam appears in ill-lit sequences driving the vehicles used to blow up Al-Mansoura Police headquarters. With his beard shaved he intoned that everything he did was for the sake of God and asked his brothers “to prepare tens, if not hundreds, like me who are committed to the path of Jihad”.

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