Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Constant attrition

The ability of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis to launch terror attacks is being undermined by successful operations by security personnel. Ahmed Morsy reports

Constant attrition
Constant attrition
Al-Ahram Weekly

Army spokesman Mohamed Samir announced on Friday that a leading member of the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist group had been killed during a raid in Rafah. Shahtah Farhan, Samir wrote in a post on his official Facebook page, was “a key leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis… and had been involved in attacks that targeted the army and the police”.
 
Farhan is thought to have been Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis’s commander in the Sadat area of Rafah. Samir posted a picture of Farhan’s corpse - a bearded man who appeared to have been shot twice in the chest.

Twenty-one terrorists were killed during security operations in North Sinai last week.

“During the period from October 3-9,” wrote Samir, “the continued crackdown by security bodies on terrorist hideouts in North Sinai, Ismailia, Port Said and Daqahliya resulted in the elimination of 21 terrorist elements.”
 
A further 36 terror suspects were arrested and six cars used in terrorist operations destroyed.
 
Last week’s confrontations are part of the ongoing security campaign in the Sinai Peninsula where attacks against security forces escalated following the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Dozens of militant extremists have been killed and hundreds more arrested.

Four senior members of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis were arrested and 16 more killed on just one day, 7 October, a security source told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“Army tanks shelled three four-wheeled vehicles and a motor bike raising the Al-Qaeda flag in clashes in the Northern Sinai villages of Al-Muqataa, Al-Agra and Al-Goura,” the source said. Weapons and explosives were seized in a security operation that is still ongoing.

Militant attacks have claimed the lives of more than 500 security personnel since July 2013. The Al-Qaeda inspired group Beit Al-Maqdis has been at the forefront of militant groups launching attacks against security targets. It has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Cairo and Sinai, including a failed assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in September 2013.

On 5 October the group released a video showing the execution of four men accused of spying for the Egyptian army and for Israel’s Mossad intelligence service. Three of the accused were beheaded. On 28 August Beit Al-Maqdis released gruesome footage showing the decapitation of four other Sinai citizens.

The latest video, released on Twitter, featured excerpts from a September speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Mohamed Al-Adnani urging Sinai jihadists to kill Egyptian security personnel. The film moved to the recorded “confessions” of four men and then their executions. One was shot dead after saying he had provided the Egyptian army with information. The three remaining were beheaded after confessing to working for Mossad. Before being killed the men called on other “spies” to repent publicly, saying the group knew who they were.

The need to post such gruesome images, says security expert Major General Talaat Mosallam, is evidence not of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis’s strength but its weakness.  
 
“The situation in Sinai is stable,” says Mosallam, adding that the state had adopted a transparent policy regarding events in Sinai. “If the state believes that the situation in Sinai is serious it will announce it to the public.”
 
Khaled Okasha, another security expert, warns of the possible consequences of the return home of Egyptian Islamic State members who might reinforce Beit Al-Maqdis’ cells Cairo and Alexandria.

“Cooperation between Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and ISIS could lead to an intensification of terrorist attacks, despite the success of the army and security forces in Sinai in dealing painful blows to the jihadists,” he said.

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