Sinai-base militants warn of increased activity

21 May 2015

Ansar Beit al-Magdis warn of more attacks on security forces

  • Egypt’s security forces have, so far, failed to tame Sinai-based militants as attacks continue to stifle investor confidence
  • Despite local opposition the group is becoming increasingly connected to Isis groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya

Despite local opposition, Sinai-based Islamist group Ansar Beit al-Magdis (ABM) is becoming increasingly connected to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya

Security remains a priority for a government desperately trying to restore stability and confidence for both citizens and international investors alike.

Despite attempts by Egypt’s President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi and his government to guarantee the international investment community a stable business environment, Islamist attacks have continued to dampen optimism with security likely to dictate how foreign investment fares.

Most assaults have been in northern Sinai, and while it is difficult to attribute the violence to a single group, many attacks have been claimed by ABM, which has pledged its allegiance to Isis. There have also been several smaller improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Cairo, the Nile delta and Upper Egypt.

Origins and key objectives

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) was created in 2011. In the beginning, the group was focused on Israel; bombing gas pipelines leading towards the country.

The group’s rhetoric

The group’s leadership stated that secular forces along with Christians, Jews and the military have undermined the rule of Islam.

Long-term ideological objectives

Ideological allegiance to Isis may suggest that it also have aims of creating a separate Islamic state in the peninsula.

Key areas

The group’s stronghold is in northern Sinai in areas such as Arish and Sheikh Zuweid.

Cross-border influence

The group has not mounted any cross-border attacks into Gaza or Israeli territory.

Foreign support

ABM swore its allegiance to Isis in November 2014. It aims to be a part of the greater neo-jihadist Isis Caliphate project.

Military capacity

The groups is in possession of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), Grad rockets and mortars, and Man-Portable Air-Defence systems (MANPADs).

Training and support

Recent affiliation with Isis can lead to great foreign fighter recruitment and technical operational support.

Key names

Ibrahim Mohammed Farag and Shadi al-Manaei: both killed in action during 2014. The group’s current leader is unknown.

Territorial dynamics

ABM does not have great control over territory and, therefore, is still considered a guerrilla force trying to fight rather than govern.

Non-ideological support

The local tribal population in Sinai has been marginalised by the central authorities for decades. As a result, the group has found a certain degree of support in the area. The possibility of support across the border in the Gaza Strip is likely due to the demolition of existing tunnels and the overthrow of Hamas affiliate Mohammed Morsi from power by the military.

Local opposition

Actions of the group have made them quite unpopular among some of the local residents.

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