Salafi insurgency fermenting in northern Sinai

100053125-least-egyptianBY :

Northern Sinai has long played host to a variety of smuggling networks and jihadi organizations. Since General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s military coup of July 3rd, 2013 in Egypt, however, there has been an exponential increase in attacks emanating from this area.

sinai2This increasingly lawless region is now the home ground for an emergent Islamist insurgency against the Egyptian authorities. Since July, 2013, more than 300 reported attacks have taken place in Sinai. The violence is also spreading into the Egyptian mainland, with attacks in recent weeks on a security facility in Cairo, and the killing of an Interior Ministry official in the capital.

Some of the groups engaged in the fighting are linked to global jihadi networks, including al-Qaeda. Others have connections to elements in Hamas-controlled Gaza. The precise links between the various organizations engaged are difficult to trace.

This emergent reality in northern Sinai has serious implications for Israel. While the main focus of the jihadi activity is directed against Sisi’s administration in Cairo, some of the groups centrally involved have a track record of attacks against Israeli targets. In al-Qaeda’s official propaganda channels, the north Sinai area is described as a new front in the war against ‘the Jews and the Americans.’

The most significant group operating in northern Sinai today is the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) organization. This organization has been active since 2011. It originated in Gaza, and made its way to Sinai following the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The group’s name will raise a wry smile for Israeli and Jewish readers. The Arabic term ‘Beit al-Maqdis’ (House of the Holy) for Jerusalem derives from the older Hebrew name for the Jewish Temple – Beit Hamikdash, with the same meaning.

Contemporary Islamists and jihadis, of course, would fiercely deny that any Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem.

But this absence of logical consistency appears to have little impact on the organization’s energy for violent activity.

But this absence of logical consistency appears to have little impact on the organization’s energy for violent activity.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was responsible for repeated attacks on the El-Arish-Ashkelon gas pipeline in 2011-12, which eventually led to the suspension of supplies via this route.

The group also carried out the cross-border terror attack on August 18, 2011, in which eight Israelis were murdered, and an additional strike into Israel on September 21, 2012, which took the life of an IDF soldier.

More recently, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Eilat on January 20, 2014. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The organization’s main focus in recent weeks has been on increasingly high-profile attacks against Egyptian targets. These have included an attempt on the life of Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim on September 5, 2013, and a series of bomb attacks in Cairo in January,2014. On January 25, 2014, the group claimed responsibility for downing a military helicopter over northern Sinai.

The weapon used in this attack, a Russian Igla air-defense system, was reportedly smuggled out from Gaza, where the group maintains links with Salafi Jihadi elements.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

So what exactly is Ansar Beit al-Maqdis?

According to a former militant of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, Nabil al-Naeim, the group is funded by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, following a deal brokered with powerful Brotherhood strongman Khairet al-Shater.

Naeim suggested that Ansar Beit al Maqdis is supplied with weapons by the Brotherhood via the Gaza tunnels and Libya. He maintains that the Hamas authorities in Gaza are aware of the deal.

The alleged Brotherhood links were also asserted by Sameh Eid, described in an al-Arabiyya article as an ‘expert on Islamist groups.’ Eid referred to the group as the ‘military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood,’ and said that Shater had threatened the Egyptian authorities with ‘escalation in Sinai and the targeting of the Egyptian Army.’

Read more at Gloria Center

ALLARD: Perilous dalliance with Egyptian extremists

106_2013_b1-allard-ohanian8201_s640x740By Ken Allard:

“No way!” sniffed the money-honey at Washington Dulles International Airport as she refused to exchange my stack of Egyptian pound notes. “That currency is so unstable, we can’t even establish an exchange rate in real money. It’s worthless paper.” Badly jet-lagged, I testily replied that some humility might be in order since the American government, backer of the aforementioned “real money,” was at that very moment, technically insolvent. While I won the debate on points, those Egyptian pounds are still with me as rueful souvenirs of last week’s whirlwind fact-finding trip to Egypt.

Organized by the Westminster Institute, a McLean-based think tank, our small delegation of media and military analysts was given extraordinary access to Egypt’s top decision-makers, the first such private visit since last summer’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our principal interlocutors included the minister of defense, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-SissiTheodoros II, pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and Amr Moussa, drafter-in-chief of the new Egyptian Constitution. We also interviewed business leaders, journalists and student revolutionaries, street-wise veterans of the back-to-back uprisings that toppled the authoritarian regimes of Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi.

Bottom-line impression: While Egypt struggles valiantly, this key regional ally remains in serious trouble. With tourism down by 85 percent and the average Egyptian existing on $2 a day, foreign investment is a desperate, immediate need. Egyptian elites also worry that the strategic stakes (the largest Arab population and most powerful military) are being obscured by a Washington media muddle obsessed with Syria. From graduate students — many of them unemployed — to their executive-suite elders, the recurring nightmare is that the deposed Muslim Brotherhood will fight to regain control of Egypt, the capstone of the longed-for Islamist caliphate. Given the Brotherhood’s 80-year track record, such fears are not unreasonable.

This also explains why ordinary Egyptians reserve a special measure of loathing for Barack Obama, arguing passionately that he is the Muslim Brotherhood’s silent partner. Some of the most troubling comments:

• “Why does the American government under President Obama continue to back the terrorism of the Muslim Brotherhood — including the kind of terrorism that singles out women?”

• “Why does Washington keep demeaning our revolution by calling it a coup? With more than 20 million signatures on recall petitions and 30 million Egyptians in the streets, what else could the Egyptian army do but carry out the will of the people? Especially when the alternative was civil war?”

• “Egypt has been a loyal friend of the United States since Anwar Sadat and a military partner from Desert Storm to the War on Terrorism. So why are you criticizing your friends and seeing Egyptian problems only through American eyes?”

While no one was crude enough to mention Vladimir Putin as a substitute quarterback, the Egyptian military is palpably angry about the Obama administration’s slow-roll on modernization. Critical equipment, like the F-16 aircraft and the Apache AH-64 attack helicopter, is being delayed. The latter is an especially useful counterinsurgency weapon. Gen. el-Sissi told us flatly that he would not allow theMuslim Brotherhood or anyone else to mount attacks on other countries from Egyptian soil. By that, he meant control over Gaza and the Sinai while continuing to protect the economic “lifeblood” of the Suez Canal. Known threats in those places now include a copious flow of weapons spawned by the fall of longtime Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Knowledgeable Egyptians charge that “the U.S. just walked away from Libya once it was over” — ensuring that future military disasters were not left to chance.

Read more at Washington Times

Coptic Christians March on White House, Washington Post

1176164_381903781936483_1016611046_nBY: :

A group of Egyptians protested in front of the White House Thursday afternoon to “expose” what they say is “the clear bias of the Obama administration and the American media in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist ideology.”

Hundreds of Egyptians, who travelled to Washington, D.C. from around the United States, gathered in front of the White House before marching to the offices of the Washington Post, news network CNN, and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group that protestors called the Brotherhood’s “embassy.”

Protest organizers called on “all Egyptians” living in the U.S. to join their march, which took place as violence in Egypt continues to rage between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular military forces.

The marchers’ final stop was the Egyptian military attaché’s D.C. office, where the activists chanted their support for “the Egyptian army for its heroic stand against [Muslim Brotherhood] terrorism.”

“We are against the Muslim Brotherhood,” protestor Ramez Mossed told theFree Beacon. “He [Obama] supports the Muslim Brotherhood. He has a big hand in Egypt and the mess in Egypt. We’re trying to tell him, ‘Don’t support the terrorists. Please be fair.’”

Many of those who participated in the march are Coptic Christians, a religious group that has been systematically targeted with violence by pro-Brotherhood protestors, some of whom have been desecrating and sieging churches in Egypt.

The protestors gathered on the curb outside of the White House lofting signs that read, “We support the Egyptian Army,” and “The Muslim Brotherhood never renounced terrorism.”

“You can burn down our churches but you can never touch our faith,” read another sign.

“I love this sign,” said one passerby who saw the sign referring to the churches. “I believe it too.”

1185018_10201706805454897_316079278_n

Read more at Free Beacon

Egypt MB Protests Underscore Hypocrisy of America’s Islamists

by John Rossomando
IPT News
July 31, 2013

Six Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood highups flee to Gaza, set up command post for uprising

Gaza Beach Hotel: Muslim Brotherhood uprising command post

Gaza Beach Hotel: Muslim Brotherhood uprising command post

DEBKAfile:

A group of six Muslim Brotherhood officials escaped from Egypt after their president was overthrown in a military coup July 3 and smuggled themselves into the Gaza Strip to lead an uprising against the military in Cairo,DEBKAfile’s exclusive intelligence sources disclose. Headed by Mahmud Izzat Ibrahim, a senior deputy of the Supreme Guide, the group has established a command post at the Gaza Beach Hotel, to organize operations against Egyptian military and security targets, in conjunction with Hamas and armed Al Qaeda-linked Salafist Bedouin in Sinai.

The ousted Islamist leaders hope their revolt will quickly spread out from Sinai to Egypt proper and topple the provisional rulers in Cairo.
Mahmoud Izzat, a doctor of medicine, known as the Muslim Brotherhood’s “iron man,” ranks fourth after Supreme Guide Muhammed Badie in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy. He was a key figure in handing down the policy decisions of the Guidance Office, of which he has been a member since 1981, to the movement’s Freedom and Justice Party in government and parliament.
Married to a former supreme guide’s daughter, he was imprisoned in 1995 as leader of an illegal organization, and jailed again in January 2008 for participating in Cairo demonstrations against an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile: The MB leadership picked Mahmoud Izzat as the man best able to command the movement’s mutiny against its successors in Cairo.

Our sources reveal that the group escaped from Egypt using the Hamas networks which operated underground in Egypt during the Mubarak presidency. In February 2011, when Mubarak was on his way out, those networks came out of hiding to engineer the mass jailbreak of Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi himself.
To bypass Egyptian military and police roadblocks on Sinai roads, Hamas provided Izzat and his fellow Brethren with smugglers’ boats that ply the Mediterranean sea route between Alexandria and Gaza.

Saturday, July 20, the Egyptian army imposed a total blockade on sea craft traffic along the Mediterranean coasts of Gaza and Sinai and clamped down heavily on other means of access to the Gaza Strip. Army engineers are destroying the hundreds of smuggling tunnels linking Sinai and the Palestinian enclave, which were an integral part of Gaza’s economy under Hamas rule.

Last week, Egyptian Apache gun ships flew overhead to warn the Palestinian rulers that their movements was under surveillance.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that, in view of the Gaza Strip’s key role in abetting the uprising, the Egyptian army may decide to kick off its counter-terror operation in Sinai by dropping elite forces in Gaza by air or sea for commandeering the Beach Hotel and detaining the six Muslim Brotherhood leaders. They would be brought to Cairo and tried on charges of instigating revolt.

Read more

Bin Laden’s Doctor Terrorizing Egypt from Sinai Base

By Raymond Ibrahim:

New Egyptian intelligence confirms that Dr. Ramzi Mawafi—better known as the late terrorist Osama bin Laden’s physician—is the leader of the so-called “Free Egyptian Army” that consists primarily of Islamic terrorists clustered all throughout the Sinai, and who have been responsible for the recent attacks on Egyptian soldiers, police, Christian Copts, and other targets, including the gas pipes, all in response to the ousting of Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sources also confirm that Mawafi is trying to transform the Sinai Peninsula to an “Islamic emirate” and turning his “Free Egyptian Army” into its jihadi wing to launch attacks on Egypt proper. Accordingly, he has been, for two and a half years—since being released from prison—rallying thousands of fellow jihadis, from Egypt and other countries, to the Sinai to form bases.

Mawafi was released from the Wadi Natrun prison on January 29—the same day and prison that now ousted president Muhammad Morsi was released from at the hands of Hamas. Moreover, early reports had indicated that Morsi was summoning jihadis, foreign and domestic, to congregate in the Sinai so as to come to his aid whenever needed—just as they are now.

Following these revelations that Mawafi is behind the Sinai upsurge, Egypt’s General Commander Sisi called for Mawafi’s head—“dead or alive.”

Also see:

Report: Muslim Brotherhood to Form Rebel Egyptian Army (clarionproject.org)

Egyptian General: Hamas Smuggled Rockets to Muslim Brotherhood

Palestinians look at homemade rockets during a Palestinian heritage exhibition a festival marking the 61st anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) on April 27, 2009, in Gaza (photo credit: Abed Abed/Flash90)

Palestinians look at homemade rockets during a Palestinian heritage exhibition a festival marking the 61st anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) on April 27, 2009, in Gaza (photo credit: Abed Abed/Flash90)

by John Rossomando: